IMPLICATIONS OF THE ALLEGORY OF HONEYCOMB
The teacher treats Aditya (who is far away from the commoners) as the essence (madhu) of the order of nobility (deva). He visualizes this nobility as a cross beam from which the social world of the frontier society (antariksham) hangs like a honeycomb.
The benefit, madhu, accruing from the activities of this industrial and industrious society is enjoyed by the nobility (which is a leisure class not engaged in any economic activity).
The students seem to have wondered what the status of the Maruts was. The younger generation (putras, sons of Marici) of the Maruts was a product of the interaction that took place between the two social worlds, divam and antariksham. The teacher implies that hence, the Marut scould not be granted the status of nobles (3-1-1).
[The comment that the sun is treated as the object of meditation is unwarranted here and is irrelevant.]
The teacher used the above sketch to elucidate his stand on the functions of Aditya, the official of the Vedic polity, vis-a-vis the relation between the nobility and the industrial society.
[The transliteration of this passage as: Yonder sun is the honey of the gods. Of this the sky is the cross-beam; the atmosphere is the honeycomb; the particles of light are the brood does not bring out its import.]
The eastern portion of the honeycomb that is shaded with lines (rays) indicates the Rgveda hymns in which these beneficial interactions are traced. These hymns are compared to the flower from which the bees suck the juice that is transformed into honey (amrta apa, often translated as nectar).
The Rks, Rgveda hymns, are visualized as the bees. As the students of Rgveda followed its provisions intently, it emitted the benefits of fame (yasa, accruing on the fulfillment of their enterprises), splendour (tejas), vigour of the senses and organs, food and other requirements.
Acquisition of these benefits is the essence (rasa) mentioned.
It emerged from the study of Rgveda and the prayer for these benefits was addressed to Aditya and it reached him (that is, his ears). This eastern portion of the honeycomb was shaded red. (3-1-2 to 4) The southern portion of the honeycomb is compared to the formulae of the Yajur Veda and they give similar benefits. It is shaded white (3-2-1 to3). The western portion is correlated to the Samaveda chants. It too gives its followers similar benefits. It is shaded black (3-3-1 to 3). The northern portion of the honeycomb is shaded dark black. It pertains to the fourth Veda that is attributed to Atharvacharya and Angirasa and their followers.
It drew sustenance from the epics or chronicles (itihasa) and legends (puranas). These are described as flowers from which the bees extract honey. These too give similar benefits. The teacher notices that the epics and legends are interwoven with themes pertaining to Atharvaveda while Yajurveda and Samaveda have themes that are not different from those of the Rgveda. (3-4-1 to 3)
The rays (of the sun) going up are compared to the vessels that carry the honey upward. This honey has been extracted from the secret instructions of the Atharvaveda (Brahma). The latter is compared to the flower from which the bees suck the juice (amrta apa).
These secret instructions of the Atharvaveda benefit the officials in charge of the judiciary who are superior to those who follow one or the other of the four Vedas.
Their tasks are fulfilled (yasa). They obtain splendour, virility of organs, food and other requirements. This honey goes direct to the centre of Aditya.
The official, Aditya, trembles when he is pointed out the essence and spirit of the contents of Brahma, the socio-political constitution. Thus the teacher brings out the influence of the Vedas on the conduct of the Vedic officials (3-5-1 to 4).
[The interpretation that the term, Brahman, refers to aum (pranava) is not sound. Similarly the suggestion that the secret instructions refer to the Upanishads is not sound.]
A distinction is made between the rules of procedure incorporated in the four Vedas and the principles of socio-political constitution incorporated specifically in Atharvaveda or Brahma whose exponents the Brahmavadis were.
The Vasus are at the first stage of cultural (amrtam) life. Agni who is the official spokesman of the commonalty conveys their expectations to the Vasus.
As nobles the Vasus (owners of property, especially lands and cattle) do not seek food or drink. They do not even seek to partake of the best in life (amrtam).
They are satisfied only with seeing that the commoners offer these in oblations. They merge in this structured commonalty and emerge from it. The teacher implies that the Vasus are not different from the commonalty.
[The translation of this note as: They retire into this form (rupa) and come forth from this form (colour) is misleading and is unacceptable.]
One who knows this significance of the concept, amrtam, as high culture that is not connected with mundane needs of men can become a member of the cadre of Vasus. He is satisfied with watching from outside what a purely cultural life is. (3-6-1 to3)
For the duration of the day from when the sun (Aditya) rises in the east till it sets in the west, he will be able to enjoy the status of the Vasus who are autonomous (svarajyam) and dominate (adhipatya) others (4).
The teacher was explaining to his students who were being trained to officiate at sacrifices how the rich host at the sacrifice who respected high culture rather than seek mundane needs could attain the status of a Vasu. The red eastern section of the honeycomb is correlated to this approach.
[The translation of this passage as: As long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so long does he attain the worship and sovereignty of the Vasus misses this note.]
Aditya, the chief of the ruling aristocracy traverses the normal route, from the east to the west when the commonalty and their leaders, Vasus, benefit each other.
The second (southern) portion of the honeycomb, which is shaded white, is correlated with the nobility, especially the Rudras, and is represented by Indra. These nobles too (like the Vasus) are content with only seeing the oblation that is high culture (amrtam).
Here the nobles merge with the intelligentsia (who were warrior-technocrats) of the forests and mountains and then emerge from it as a distinct group. A sacrificer who recognizes this aspect and honours the Rudras as expected by them becomes eligible to join their cadre. [These Rudras had accepted Indra as their spokesman.]
As in the previous section, here too, the rich sacrificer exercises influence (adhipatya) over others and stays autonomous (svarajyam) like the Rudras. (3-7-1 to 4)
But the duration is twice that of the Vasus and it is correlated with the movement of the sun from south to north .
The western portion of the honeycomb, which is shaded black, is correlated with the nobility, especially the Adityas, and is represented by Varuna. They too like the previous two groups are content with only seeing the oblation that is high culture (amrtam). Here too the Adityas are shown as merging with the commonalty and then rising from it as a distinct group.
A sacrificer who recognizes this aspect and honours this group of administrators of the diffused state through Varuna (who is traditionally associated with the western province) as expected will be able to join this group. He too, like the Adityas, can exercise influence over others and stay autonomous. (3-8-1 to 4)
Here the movement is from west to east and the duration is twenty-four hours.
The northern portion of the honeycomb sketched, which is shaded dark black, is correlated with the nobility, especially the Maruts, and is represented by Soma. They too are content with only seeing the oblation that is high culture (amrtam) and not mundane needs like food.
Here the Maruts are shown as merging with the warriors who were also physicians of the commonalty of the open areas and emerging from it as a distinct group.
A sacrificer who recognizes this aspect and honours them through Soma (who is traditionally associated with the northern province of mountainous forests) will be able to join this group. He too like the other three groups of nobles can exercise lordship over others and stay autonomous. The movement is from north to south (3-9-1 to 4).
The teacher had in section (3-5) above drawn attention to the portion above the crossbeam from which the honeycomb was hanging. He correlated it with Brahma or Atharvaveda. Brahma was the head of the judiciary in the Atharvan polity.
The Saddhyas who had attained perfection in their high quests for social power through intellectual superiority could exercise their influence through this official. They too were content with high culture (amrtam) and were not interested in mundane offerings. The top portion of the honeycomb is correlated to this fifth section of the traditional Vedic nobility.
The best of all the four groups of administrators and social leaders were absorbed in this cadre of Saddhyas. On retirement they went back to those cadres of nobility and not to lower ranks as in the case of the other four cadres, Vasus, Rudras, Adityas and Maruts.
The jurist, Brahma, is shown to influence all, from the person above the top stratum of the society to the lowest social stratum and is similar to Soma who exercised such influence.
The Vedic Polity visualized Indra, Vaisravana, Varuna and Soma as the four officials representing the four directions. It also held the Adityas, Vasus, Rudras and Maruts as the four traditional cadres of nobles. The state was required to provide for the posts of Indra, Agni, Aditya and Brhaspati.
It did not have a separate judiciary headed by Brahma who would be superior to these cadres and officials. The role of Brahma was expected to be played by Soma who belonged to the cadre of Rudras. According to this Upanishad it had to be performed by an official belonging to the cadre of Saddhyas who were superior to all these cadres. (3-10-1 to 4)
The sacrificer (who performed his duties in the ideal manner) may hope to be influential like this jurist, Brahma, who belonged to the cadre of Saddhyas.
TRAITS OF THE JURIST, BRAHMA
The trainees sought to know more about the role of this influential jurist who belonged to the cadre of Saddhyas, the self-denying intellectual aristocrats who had emerged from the four groups of cultural aristocracy.
The sun that rises in the east sets in the west; the west is the east for those on the other side of the globe. What rises there is bound to set in what is east for those on this side of the globe. Similarly the sun moves from north to south and from south to north.
But what rises in the zenith will no more rise or set. It will seem to be in the centre of the sky and is visible to all whether in the east or west or south or north. The teacher implies that the jurist, Brahma, does not take sides. He is absolutely neutral. In this connection, he cites a verse that implies that the sun in the sky does not set; nor does it rise.
He prays to the nobles (devas) that he should not be deemed to have fallen from the grace of Brahma, the highest interpreter of the socio-political constitution, for he has only spoken this truth (satya) (3-11-1,2).
If the sacrificer who is an aspirant to the highest position understands the implication of this verse that says that the sun neither rises nor sets, he would have grasped the instructions about the role of Brahma who is to be ever awake. For him it is always day (3-11-3).
[The translation of the expression, Brahma-upanishad, as mystic doctrine of Brahma is unsatisfactory.]
The teacher tells his trainees that the highest judge, Brahma, had told this to the chief of the people, Prajapati. It is implicit that the chief realized that this highest position in the social polity is a permanent one and has jurisdiction over all sections of the population.
The Prajapati instructed Manu to take note of this requirement.
The Prajapati concerned must have been Kashyapa, the head of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Manu Vaivasvata. This Manu directed the subjects (prajas) to take note of this feature of the constitution that he recommended accordingly. The teacher told his trainees that Aruna taught his eldest son, Uddalaka, this socio-political constitution, Brahma (3-11-4).
[The transliteration of this passage as;Brahma told this to Prajapati; Prajapati to Manu; Manu to his descendants. To Uddalaka Aruni, the eldest son, his father declared this Brahma needs clarification as attempted above.]
The teacher told them that a father might teach the provisions of this constitution (that makes Brahma, the highest authority) to his eldest son or to a worthy pupil but to none else.
There is nothing mystic or secret about it. Even if one should offer the teacher of the constitution the whole of a rich island to interpret the constitution differently (and declare the king to be the highest authority) the teacher should not depart from this teaching.
The teacher takes the stand that there is nothing greater than the socio-political constitution, Brahma, and its interpreter and impartial upholder, Brahma. It should not be distorted. (3-11-5,6).
Gayatri and Brahma, Prayer of All Individuals
The students then seek to be enlightened on the relationship between Gayatri and the concept of Brahma. The teacher says that the Gayatri hymn expresses the prayer of all the unattached individuals (sarva bhuta) of the social periphery. It sings of and protects the interests of all these individuals who have not become members of organized groups.
The interests promoted by this concept, Gayatri are the same as those of the organized agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi). Everyone who belongs to this commonalty is securely placed on this pedestal, the concept of sarva bhuta, which covers the common interests of all individuals whether organized as groups or not.
This concept behind the Gayatri hymn does not go beyond the pursuit and protection of common interests of the commoners. It does not promote their personal ambitions or the causes of those who do not belong to the organized commonalty and the unorganized social periphery (3-12-1,2).
In fact, what this commonalty (prthvi) pursues is the same as what the leader (purusha) in the social body (sarira) does, that is, pursue common interests and not the personal interests of any particular member including those of the leader.
The individuals (pranas) who are at the subsistence level are firmly planted (pratishthita) in the soil or earth, that is, in the ways of life particular to the commonalty. These individuals do not have ambitions beyond securing subsistence and survival (3-12-3).
The teacher elucidates that the role of the leader (purusha) in a social group (sarira) is like that of the leader (purusha) in the core (hrdaya) of the society here. The individuals at the subsistence level (pranas) are planted firmly (pratishthita) in this core society. They have no expectations beyond bare survival (3-12-4).
The society of the commoners, which is visualized as cow and described as Gayatri, has four feet. Each foot of this metre has four syllables. [A Rgveda hymn is cited to indicate that speech, creatures, earth, body, heart and the breaths as the six facets of Gayatri. It is not sound to arrive at such a conclusion from the theme of this section.] (3-12-5).
The society of the commoners (manushyas) including the individuals (bhutas) in the periphery and those (pranis) at the subsistence level is great but its leader (purusha) is greater than it.
One fourth of the entire commonalty and which include (all) the individuals (sarva bhuta) is under the supervision of a leader (purusha).
The teacher implies that the other commoners are placed under nobles like Vasus, Rudras, Adityas and Maruts. These commoners who are organized groups form three-fourths of this society.
The discrete individuals (bhutas) are placed under independent leaders (purushas) (3-12-6).
The teacher explains that the people in the outer areas who are not led by such independent leaders are directly under the judiciary whose head is designated as Brahma (3-12-7).
[The translation of this passage as: What is called Brahman, that is, what the space outside of a person is fails to convey this note.]
The students had heard that the term akasa was used to indicate the space within the heart of a person. The teacher does not discard that concept.
He says that the personage (purusha) within the heart is called Brahma.
[Some would interpret that by the person in the external space, paramatma, the Great Soul, was meant and by the person in the heart, the teacher meant jivatma, the human soul.]
It is more apt to treat the conscience by which individuals in the core society too are guided as 'Brahma'. The teacher explains that the jurist (Brahma) who protects the interests of those people who are outside organized social groups through the socio-political constitution is a complete scholar and does not pursue personal or sectarian interests.
Most of the enlarged commonalty was governed by rules that were implemented by the four cadres of nobles, Adityas, Vasus, Rudras and Maruts, But one fourth of this commonalty was not organized on the basis of any set of rules and traditional practices.
Similarly the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery who had been freed from the influence of the feudal lords had no traditional practice to fall back upon. They were not controlled by the nobles either. They had to depend on their own conscience even as those members of the commonalty who were not governed by the cadres of aristocrats and by traditional practices were.
The constitution, Brahma, that was binding on them recognized that the individual whether in the organized sector or in the periphery might follow his own conscience, atma.
[The interpretation that the purusha is so called because it fills everything and lies in the body is not a convincing one.]
He adopts a holistic (purna) approach while performing his constant duties (apravarta). The inner conscience too is similarly impersonal while guiding the individual leader (3-12-8,9).
Devapura, the Zone of the Nobles and its Five Gates
The teacher compares the four chambers of the heart and its apex to the five entrances to the area of the nobles (devas).
He had earlier compared these with the honeycomb and its four chambers and apex with the areas under the influence of Vasus, Rudras, Adityas, Maruts and Saddhyas.
The eastern gate of the devapura is correlated with the in-breath (prana). It is also correlated with the eye (chakshu) and with the official designated as Aditya [Aditya headed the nobility.]
One should honour it as excellence (tejas) and as reflecting both mundane and cultural needs (annadhyam) beyond striving for bare subsistence (food, anna).
One who realizes this significance of the eastern entrance becomes a member of the upper stratum of the society that enjoys these benefits (3-13-1). The teacher was concerned with social polity.
[The transliteration, This heart here has five openings for the gods. Its eastern opening is the Prana (sun). (up-breath). That is the eye; that is the sun. One should meditate on this as glow and as health. He who knows this becomes glowing and healthy is not to the mark.]
The southern entrance is correlated to the diffused breath (vyana), the reporters (srotra, ear in common parlance) and the Vedic official designated as Chandra or Soma (moon). The latter represented the intelligentsia of the frontier society of the forests and mountains. While the chakshus reported to the nobles what they had observed, the srotris reported to the sages what they had heard.
The ruler should think deeply about these aspects in order to succeed in his enterprise (yasa) and gain wealth (sri). Any person who follows this directive is bound to succeed in his objects and become rich (3-13-2). Here the term, yasa, is used while in the previous passage the term, tejas, was used.
The western gate is correlated to the exhaled breath (apana) and (Vedic) utterances (vak) and the Vedic official designated as Agni. This official represented the commonalty of the core society and also its scholars. A scholar who carefully followed his directions would become qualified (varchas) to function as a jurist (Brahma). He would also gain material and cultural benefits (annadhyam). (3-13-3)
[The translation of this passage as: Its western opening is apana (downward breath). That is speech; that is fire. One should meditate on it as the lustre of sacred wisdom and health. He who knows this becomes possessed of the lustre of sacred wisdom and health is imperfect.]
The northern gate is correlated with the equalizing breath (samana), mind (manas) and the Vedic official designated as Parjanya (rain-cloud). This official was in charge of mental planning. One who follows the rules prescribed by this official will become famous and lead a comfortable life (vyushti) (3-13-4).
The teacher correlates the upper gate, that is, the opening at the apex (of the skull) to the upward breath (udana), the Vedic official designated as Vayu (air, in common parlance) and the vast open space (akasa, atmosphere). One who follows the rules prescribed by this official will gain vigour (ojas) and greatness (mahat) (3-13-5).
The teacher treats the five personages (purushas) designated as Aditya, Chandra, Agni, Parjanya and Vayu in accordance with the provisions of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, as the doorkeepers of the social world of nobles (svarga loka). [The translation of the expression, Brahma-purusha, as a Brahma-person, is inept.]
He says that in the family or clan (kula) of a person who has functioned as an official in one of these five posts and who admitted only eligible persons to the fold of the patriciate, a warrior (vira) would be born. He would be admitted as a member of the nobility. (3-13-6)
[Viras were a group of warriors close to the Rudras and were admitted to the fold of the patriciate during the tenure of the fourth Manu, Tamasa. Bharata, son of Dushyanta, was a Vira.][The interpretation that by controlling the eye, ear, speech, mind and breath through meditation one can reach the Brahma in his heart is unsound.]
Purushas and Jyotis, Leaders and Luminaries
The teacher says that the light (jyoti), which shines above this social world of nobles (divam), above the larger society (visva), above all, in the highest social worlds above which there is no social world (loka), is the same as the light (jyoti) in this personage (purusha).
In the paradigm of social stratification of the Vedic times, the patriciate (divam) was not the highest stratum. Jyotis (luminaries) who were intellectuals and guides were superior to all social cadres.
The social leader (purusha) who has functioned in all the five posts mentioned in the previous verse and has been declared to be eligible to be admitted to the cadre of nobles as a high officer of the judiciary (Brahma) has got the traits of such a learned guide (jyoti) (3-13-7).
[The concept that the supreme (God) exists within oneself is irrelevant in this context. It is misleading to introduce such a concept while interpreting this verse.]
Some students wondered whether it could be established through empirical studies, that is, through observation that a supreme intellectual guide (Brahma) did in fact exist.
The teacher says that just as the heat in the body of another can be sensed through touching it or a distant sound can be heard by half closing the ears or a blazing fire felt, that it is possible for one to experience the existence of such a high and ordinarily unapproachable and distant guide (jyoti).
These guides (jyotis) were superior to the Vedic scholars, nobles (devas) and sages (rshis). One who has reached this level becomes a charismatic figure and is seen and heard by all (3-13-8).
The status of an enlightener, jyoti was higher than those of all other social cadres but it was marginally lower than that of the chief of the judiciary, Brahma, who interpreted the socio-political constitution. This status was assigned to a personage (purusha) who was on the threshold of the cadre of these judges (Brahma).
This purusha had earlier got trained in the posts of all the five officials who selected and admitted the eligible aspirants to the fold of the cultural aristocracy. It may be also noted that the personage (purusha) who held the position of Agni, Aditya, Soma, Parjanya or Vayu was only at the threshold of the nobility (divam) and was not its full member. This personage had risen from the commonalty.
Purusha and the Concept,
Sarvam Idam Brahma
The teacher draws the attention of his students to the statement, All this is Brahma. He asks them to calmly meditate on it, think of the implications of this statement.
[Some commentators have interpreted that it means that the whole world is Brahma, the highest God (of creation) and that every thing has emerged from Him and that every thing later gets merged in Him.]
The teacher was dealing with the calibre of the members of the judiciary, Brahma. Why was a social leader, purusha, finding it difficult to gain entry to it despite his immense popularity?
A social leader (purusha) is a talented person and has a plan and purpose (kratu). He is committed to a cause and represents certain interests. But an intellectual who is a member of the judiciary (Brahma) has no such purpose and is not committed to any cause.
The teacher does not denounce the traits and limitations of the cadre of social leaders who have definite interests. He permits them to pursue those interests but cautions that such persons would not be eligible to enter other cadres on the completion of their present tenures as representatives and leaders.
He would advise the leader (purusha) to draw a plan of action that would help him to rise in the social ladder and not be merely a spokesman and promoter of the interests of the groups he is attached to. The enigma behind this verse and this section has to be thus resolved rationally. (3-14-1)
[The translation of this passage as: This whole world is Brahman, from which he comes forth, without which he will be dissolved and in which he breathes. Tranquil (santa), one should meditate (upasita) on it. Now a person (purusha) consists of purpose (kratu). According to the purpose a person has in this world (loka), so does he become on departing hence. So let him frame for himself a purpose fails to bring out its import.]
[It is noted that the commentators of medieval times and their adherents of modern times have proceeded under the assumption that this section deals with Saguna Brahman without a physical symbol.]
The teacher says that the soul (atma), which is said to be in the heart (hrdaya), is his individual identity. It is pervaded by mind (manas). It is life (prana), which is located in the body. Its form (rupa) is like that of light, that is, it is neither solid nor fluid though glowing.
The teacher was dealing with the calibre of the personage who had not left his social body but tried to be unattached to it and become eligible to enter the cadre of the high judiciary. This personage had resolved (samkalpa) to adhere to truth (satya).
[The laws of the later Vedic times were based on the principles of uncompromising truth (satya). The society had not yet come under the laws of the post-Vedic times which were based on Dharma and were a consensus arrived at by the different sectors.]
The individual (atma) who was getting ready to enter the ranks of the impartial jurists was not a member of the organized commonalty but was a member of the open areas (akasa) whose residents were more independent than the members of organized social groups of the commonalty.
He was an expert in all occupations and duties and had already experienced all desires and pleasures and tastes. In other words he was in the stage of a monk who had gone through all that worldly life (sarvam idam) as a married man offered.
He is not a spokesman of any group. He is not dependent on any group. The teacher agrees that the soul within one's heart is smaller than a grain of rice or barley or mustard or millet or even of its kernel.
But this minute soul is greater than all the social worlds (lokas) the commonalty (prthvi), the frontier society (antariksham) and the patriciate (divam). (3-14-2,3)
[The translation, This is myself within the heart, greater than the earth, greater than the atmosphere, greater than the sky, greater than these worlds fails to convey the message of the sage.]
The jurist (Brahma) is a social leader (purusha) who has performed all occupations, gone through all desires and experienced all pleasures and represents all. But he does not speak for them nor is he dependent on them. He goes by the conscience (atma) in his heart and he is hence fit to become the chief of the impartial judiciary, Brahman.
After his present tenure as a social leader he will enter that judiciary. The teacher says that one who believes this will have no more doubts. He says that this was what his teacher, Sandilya, used to say. [The sceptics were thus silenced.] (3-14-4)
Allegory of the Treasure-Chest
The teacher compares the industrial frontier society of the forests, mines and mountains (antariksham) to the inside of the treasure-box and the agro-pastoral commonalty (bhumi) to its bottom and the provinces in the (four) directions to its sides and the patriciate (divam) to its lid.
The treasury represents and contains the property (vasu) and the wealth (dhana) of this larger society (visva). Every sector of the larger society is subordinate to this rich treasury (3-15-1).
This treasure-chest is sanctified at the sacrifice performed by the ruler.The priest who sat on the eastern side of the sacrificial fire-pit was named juhu, the ladle used to lift the ghee and offer it in the sacrifice.
The priest who sat on the southern side was named sahamana, an arrogant person and the one who sat on the western side was called rajni, a person with the traits of a ruler. The priest who sat on the northern side was called subhuta, a good individual. [Correlating them with Agni, Yama, Varuna and Kubera is not warranted.]
The officials in charge of the four directions treated Vayu, the official in charge of the mobile population, as their protege (vatsa). The sacrificer who follows this Vedic tradition of treating this population on the move as having a godfather in Vayu does not weep for a son (to perform his last rites).
The teacher says that the sacrificer though childless did not weep for a son. He knew that the official designated as Vayu would protect his interests (3-15-2).
It may be remarked here that the trainee in this case was required to officiate as priest for a ruler who had no sons of his own. The teacher took succour in the wealth that never dwindled (arishta).
It was in the form of support that the three social worlds, bhu, bhuva and sva, commonalty, frontier society and patriciate gave the sacrificer. He implies that he does not regret that he has no sons of his own who would perform his last rites and inherit his wealth. He explains that he had said that he identified himself (that is, his soul) with breath (prana).
He had meant that he had identified himself with that invisible but vital breath which blew over all the areas, that is, which was common to all living beings, even to those who were just at the subsistence level and had no wealth of their own.
The teacher wanted his students to recognize that he was identifying himself with the individuals (bhutas) who were on the social periphery and who were at the subsistence level and who were not part of any of the three organized social worlds. But at the same time he belonged to all the three worlds.
One who went along with the commonalty attached to the soil (bhu) or with the frontier society (bhuva) or with the nobility (sva) was hence associated with the officials (Agni, Vayu and Aditya) who were in charge of them. He went along with the directions given in the Rgveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda (15-3 to 7).
Career and roles of the social leader, Purusha
The teacher told his students that the role and career of a social leader (purusha) could be correlated with the procedure that one who performs a sacrifice (yajna) has to follow.
His first twenty-four years is correlated to the morning oblation when the gayatri hymn, in which a metre has twenty-four syllables, is recited. It is addressed to the Vasus. The breaths (pranas) are compared to the Vasus as they enable everyone in the social world to reside in human settlements.
It is implicit that the social leader (purusha) has to take the initiative in this direction with respect to those who are at the bare survival level (3-16-1).
[The Purusha, a ruler whose status was superior to that of a Viraj, had a tenure of twenty-four years, twice that of the latter.]
If because of illness he was unable to perform all the duties expected of him during his tenure, he might continue to hold the post with the permission of the Vasus.
(It was like continuing the morning oblation into the midday oblation. The sacrifice (yajna) is not to be given up.)
The pranas, the individuals at the subsistence level, had to be placed under the care of the Vasus, the nobles who looked after landed property and were not to be abandoned. The social leader, purusha, must continue the process of settlement of these persons on lands with the consent of Vasus (16-2).
[The comment, While the previous section dealt with the long life of the son, this deals with ones own long life, is irrelevant and irrational. It shows that the modern commentators who have followed the scholars of the medieval times have no correct grasp of the features of the Vedic social polity.]
This process would be completed during the next twenty years. The tenure of the purusha is thereby extended to a total of forty-four years, (which is correlated to the Trishtubh hymns where the metre has forty-four syllables).
These hymns were prayers addressed mainly to Rudras, a group of nobles who were connected with the frontier society of the forests and mountains. The individuals at the bare subsistence level, who could not be brought under the jurisdiction of the Vasus and settled in agro-pastoral plains, had to stay in the forests. Of course this was painful and made them weep (3-16-3).
If the process of settling the individuals is not completed because of the illness of the social leader (purusha), he should seek the permission of the Rudras to continue to be in position even after the noon, that is, the peak of his career, is over.
He would continue to offer the oblations in the evening. He would recover from his illness and survive to be able to serve the pranas, the persons who had no settlements or occupations (3-16-4).
The period of forty-four years spent in this great service of the poor was extended by four years. That is, the social leader got two full tenures to complete his mission. This third period is correlated to the evening oblations and the jagati hymns where each metre has forty-eight syllables and is addressed to the Adityas.
The teacher implies that the full length of active life is forty-eight years. He would recover from his illness and survive to be able to serve the remaining pranas who would be settled in areas directly under the Adityas, that is, under the direct supervision of the ruling elite. (3-16-5,6).
[The last line in this section seems to be an unauthorized addendum. It claims that the total span of life is 24+44+48=116 years.]
Mahidasa who belonged to the clan (school) of Atri is said to have claimed that the spell of illness would not affect him as he was bound to live a full life. Mahidasa was born to a Brahmana by a woman belonging to the other (itara) society of the forests. It may be noted here that the term, itara, did not refer to a low-caste person.
He must have worked on the lands beside the river, Mahi, as a labourer. He became an author of Brahmanas and Aranyakas, according to legends. Atri was in charge of the scheme to organize the frontier society, antariksham. (3-16-7)
Ghora Angirasa and his counsel to Krshna on Adhyatma, Adhidaivatam
During the period of initiation as a priest one has to abstain from food and water and from pleasures. When he becomes an associate priest he may indulge in food and drink (particularly milk) and in pleasures. When he joins the choir in reciting laudatory hymns, he may laugh and eat and have sexual intercourse.
When a trainee becomes a full-fledged priest entitled to receive fees for services rendered (dakshina) he has to observe the prescribed rules. The teacher enumerates them as austere exertion (tapas), offering gifts (danam), uprightness (arjavam), refraining from violence (ahimsa) and speaking only truth (satyavacanam). If one follows these rules, it will be deemed that he has paid the fees due to his teacher (3-17-1 to 4).
Then he will procreate a son (on his wife) and the birth of the son will be the beginning of a new career for him.
Death will be treated as the final change of clothes, casting away the old ones and wearing new ones (avabhrtha) (5).
Ghora Angirasa had given this counsel to Krshna, the son of Devaki. Since Krshna had become free from thirst for worldly pleasures, he should during the last period of his life follow strictly (come under the protection of) the concept of the Ultimate as the indestructible (akshitam), the non-fallen (achyutam) and breath-concentrate (prana-samsita).
This too was an advice, which Ghora Angirasa gave his student, Krshna, drawing from Yajurveda. (3-17-6)
The views of Ghora Angirasa are reflected in Krshna's exposition of the concepts of adhibhutam, adhyatmam and adhidaivatam in Bhagavad-Gita.
In this connection the teacher cites two Rgvedic verses (8-6-30, 1-1-10). The teacher points out that the traditional school since the earliest times (retasa) holds that those persons who follow the rules mentioned by Ghora Angirasa (a socio-political ideologue) see the light surrounded by the dark sky.
[The term, retasa need not be interpreted as a reference to the primeval seed that led to the evolution of the living beings.]
They see the guide (jyoti, light) who is superior to the cadre of the nobles (sva). Guided by that light one reaches the status of Surya (or Aditya) who is a noble (deva) and belongs to the cadre of nobles (devas). He is the best among the guides (jyotis), according to the teacher (3-17-7).
Counsel on Adhyatma, Adhidaivatam and Brahmavarchas
The essential individual (adhyatma) who has an identity of his own deems and honours the thinker (manas) in himself as the highest interpreter and jurist (Brahma).
The essential aristocrat (adhidaivata) of the enlarged society deems the vast space with all its varied denizens and social segments (akasa) as Brahma.
[In neither situation, with reference to life among the thinkers of the commonalty or the enlarged and universal aristocracy, is the term, Brahma, used to indicate God.]
This is the twofold (ubhayam) instruction (adishta) with reference to the essential individual (adhyatma) and the essential noble (adhidaivatam). Both the will of the individual and the will of the larger society as upheld by its aristocracy are to be honoured as constituting the spirit of the socio-political constitution,Brahma. (3-18-1)
As far as the essential individual (adhyatma) is concerned, the four aspects of the code that regulates his life are what have to be uttered (vak), how one has to secure his living (prana), what he has to notice (chakshu) and what he has to hear (srotra).
As far as the essential noble (adhidaivatam) is concerned, the views of the officials designated as Agni, Vayu and Aditya who represent the three social worlds, prthvi, antariksham and divam, should be taken into account while arriving at an appraisal of the common will. The fourth factor is the view of the people in the different directions, (disa).
This twofold instruction pertains to the essential individual (adhyatma) who regulates his personal life and the essential noble (adhidaivatam) who regulates the lives of the peoples of the varied larger society. (3-18-2)
[It may be noted that the teacher was recalling the instructions in governance that Ghora Angirasa had given to his students including Krshna. This factor needs to be kept in mind while interpreting the teachings of Krshna to Arjuna and others in the Bhagavad-Gita.]
The teacher correlates speech (vak), breath (prana, that is, ordinary living persons) and eye (chakshu, the observer) with Agni, Vayu and Aditya (fire, wind and sun, in common parlance).
The teacher correlates what this individual has heard (srotra) from different sources with the reports that the essential noble and his cadre of governing nobility of the larger society have received from the different provinces.
It is unsound to interpret that the teacher was referring to what was recited as vedic hymns and heard as Srutis and transmitted to others.
The former aspects are connected with the will of the essential individual (adhyatma). They become influential when they follow the lines set by the latter aspects that are connected with the will of the larger society exercised through the governing elite (adhidaivatam).
A ruler or a judge who knows this and conducts himself according to this expectation becomes famous and succeeds in his enterprises and also gains the qualifications that are essential for functioning as an interpreter and upholder of the socio-political constitution (Brahma-varchas). (3-18-3 to 6)
[The translation of this expression as Brahma-knowledge is imprecise. Ghora Angirasa was a sociopolitical ideologue-cum-activist, Brahmavadi . The commentators of the medieval times and their modern adherents have failed to recognize the distinctions in the roles of the Brahmarshis, Brahmavadis and other cadres of Brahmans who were scholars in Vedas and functioned as teachers or as priests.]
Aditya, the head of the core society of Nobles and Commoners (Devas.Manushyas) enabled to function as the head of the judiciary, Brahma
According to the instructions given by Ghora Angirasa, Aditya who spoke for the nobility could exercise the powers of Brahma, the highest officer of the judiciary. The teacher found it necessary to explain the implications of this stand. Earlier there was no body that could legislate.
The legislative body (sad) came into existence later. It had representatives both of the nobility and of the intelligentsia. Aditya and Agni headed these two segments.And it became a balanced body (samabhavat).
Just as an egg when it is broken open reveals two parts one white and one yellow, the unified body of legislature was later (after one year of deliberation) divided into two, one representing the commonalty and the other the nobility (3-19-1).
When two separate bodies came into existence, Indra headed the assembly of nobles (sabha) and Agni the council of scolars (samiti).
The commoners (prthvi) are compared to the white (rajat) of the yolk and the nobility (dyau) to its yellow (suvarna) portion. The teacher compares the outer membranes of the egg to the mountains (parvata) and the inner membranes to the mists and clouds (megha), the veins (dhamani) to the rivers (nadi) and the bladder filled with fluid to the sea. He was correlating the egg with the physical features of the country (3-19-2).
Aditya was a post created by this unified society with two strata, commonalty and nobility. When this post whose occupier represented both these cadres and also others who were dependent on mountains, rivers and seas was created every one rejoiced.
And all the discrete individuals (sarva bhuta) on the social periphery welcomed the creation of this post. Aditya took into account the desires of all sections of the population. The rise of the sun and its return after night give joy to all individuals and to all those who have their own desires. Aditya was not viewed as the representative of the nobility only.
As he was also Brahma, the head of the highest judiciary, he could satisfy the expectations of the individuals who did not belong to the organized core society and those groups, which had their specific desires (3-19-3,4). The teacher advises his trainees to benefit by viewing Aditya in this light.