THE MESSAGE OF THE MONKS ON BRAHMA-VIDYA
SOCIAL CONSTITUTION OF THE VEDIC TIMES
Brahma, the First Author of Atharvaveda
Brahma who emerged as the first among the nobles (devas) was the administrator (karta) of the larger society (visva) and the protector (gopta) of the groves (bhuvana), which housed the educational and cultural centres. He taught his eldest son, Atharvan, the science known as Brahma-vidya, the foundation (pratishtha) of all the disciplines of study (vidya). In other words, Atharvacharya, Angirasa and other editors of the anthology known as Atharvaveda or Brahma, followed the principles of socio-political constitution, which Brahma had set forth for the larger society, visva.
The remark that Brahma, the creator of the world and its governor arose by the exercise of his own choice and that his rise is unlike the birth of an individual which is determined by their past deeds is unwarranted.
Anvikshiki (which includes dialectics, the science of endeavour and the science of social control, Samkhya, Yoga and Lokayata), the three Vedas (Rg, Yajur and Sama), Varta (the science of economic occupations) and Dandaniti (the science of political control) were the four disciplines of study, which were based on the principles of jurisprudence set forth in Brahma-vidya. [The interpretation that the objects of all knowledge are known through the Knowledge of Brahman is not to the mark.] (1-1-1)
Brahma briefed Atharvan on this science, Brahma-vidya. Atharvan taught this knowledge to Angir and Angir taught it to Satyavaha (son of Bharadvaja) and Satyavaha taught it to Angiras. It appears that Angirasa was Angir himself. The version of Atharvaveda as amended by Satyavaha to meet the code based on truth, Satya is attributed to Angirasa. [This would obviate the assumption that paravara meant both higher and lower knowledge.] (1-1-2). Saunaka, the great householder (mahasala) approached Angiras and after agreeing to be a regular student of the latter asked him to let him know by knowing (vijnata) which all things and persons in this enlarged society (sarvam idam) came to be known (3).
The two fields of study: Apara and Para
Angirasa told him that there were two types of disciplines of study (vidya), which, according to the experts in Brahma-vidya, were to be known. They were concerned respectively with fields that were external (para) to the core society and fields not external (apara) to it. [Para and apara need not be translated as higher and lower.] (4).
Angirasa traced among the disciplines of study that belonged to the apara (non-alien) fields, the four Vedas, Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. He included phonetics, rituals, grammar, etymology, metrics and astrology also in the apara group of studies. The para group of studies is that by which one overtakes (adhigamya) and masters the undecaying (aksharam). He was referring to the knowledge whose horizon seems to be constantly going beyond ones grasp despite the knowledge already gained and which will not decay and will ever be valuable. (1-1-5)
The studies that pertain to non-external (apara) issues are observable, that is, fall within the orbit of empiricism and can be easily grasped. They deal with family (gotra), class (varna) and with things seen and heard of and with men who work with their hands and move about on their legs.
The studies that pertain to issues external (para) to activities of the immediate society dwell on factors that are of constant administrative concern (nityam vibhu) and spread everywhere (sarva-gatam) and at the same time exceedingly subtle (susukshmam). These issues and the solutions to them never exhaust themselves (avyaya). The scholars, who discriminate between good and bad and between the passing phase and the permanent values (dhira) observe (paripasya) these as originating (yoni) in the social periphery where discrete individuals (bhutas) live apart; they do not live as social group. (1-1-6)
The translation of the above verse as, By means of the higher knowledge the wise behold everywhere Brahman, which otherwise cannot be seen or seized, which has no root or attributes, no eyes or ears, no hands or feet, which is eternal and omnipresent, all-pervading and extremely subtle, which is imperishable and the source of all beings is not satisfactory.
The studies pertaining to non-external (apara) are empirical and concern the manifest and temporary social relations. The studies pertaining to external (para) issues dwell on the factors that are constantly in operation and originate in needs that are not of a social type.
[The remark that the indescribable Absolute Brahman is also the source of beings, bhuta-yoni, is not relevant here. The interpretation, Decay is possible for a material entity by the loss of limbs or attributes while Brahman is without attributes, is unacceptable.]
The teacher then explains the concept of the expanded society, visva. The expansion of the commonalty (prthvi) of the core society is like the spider sending forth the thread of its web from its own body and withdrawing it. The regions where the medicinal herbs (aushadi) grow lie outside the essentially agrarian lands (prthvi), even as the hair grows on the head and on the body from within the man (sata purusha) but are not counted as constituting the organs of man. The teacher says that similarly the concept, visva the expanded society has its origin in the concept, akshara, the non-decaying (1-1-7).
The interpretation, There is no suggestion here that the world is an illusory appearance of Brahman. Brahman is the sole cause and there is no second to Brahman which can be used by Brahman is unwarranted.
If the term, akshara, implies the permanent para principle referred to in the previous verse, visva includes the core society and its periphery which both have certain common lasting abilities native to man.
The scope of the constitution, Brahma
The scope of the concept, Brahma, that is, the principles of valid socio-political constitution, expand as its adherents engage in creative endeavour (tapas). As a result food (anna), the minimum need of men of the larger society, is produced. [Tapas is not mere contemplative power. Its object is to arrive at knowledge of and control over new means to attain the desired goals.]
That new constitution, which met the above minimum need of men, especially those at the subsistence level (prana), also encouraged the thinkers (mana) and by that the influence of the code based on truth (satya) and the jurists, who were members of satyaloka. It also instituted the vocations and duties (karma) and the (new) cultural and intellectual aristocracy (amrtam). (1-1-8)
[The translation, From food, life (thence) mind, thence the reals (the five elements); (thence) the worlds; (thence the rituals) in the rituals, immortality is unacceptable. The claim that Brahman here in relation to the cosmos refers to Personal God who is self-conscious and contemplative is untenable. It is not sound to introduce the concept of Saguna Brahman here. It is wrong to interpret the term, lokas, as the fourteen worlds, which constitute the relative universe and the term, works as those performed by living beings according to their caste and order of life (varna and asrama).]
This constitution called Brahma, which has a definite structure and which ensures the livelihood (anna) of all the members of the larger society (visva) was prepared by a scholar who had studied all disciplines and who knew everything and whose endeavour (tapas) was marked totally by jnana (knowledge of the past experiences of men as recorded in the Vedas and other studies and of the contemporary socio-physical environment through empirical observations). (9)
[The translation, He who is all-knowing and all-wise, whose austerity consists of knowledge, from him are born this Brahma (Hiranya-garbha), name, shape and food is not to the mark. The explanation that the object is first conceived in the mind of the creator; then it is given a tangible form; the universe is the outcome of the thought of the creator fails to bring out the intent of this verse. The teacher was referring to the contribution of Brahma who guided Atharvan, the sage who outlined Atharvaveda.]
Instruction to Saunaka on the Code of Truth, Satya
The teacher then explains what the code of truth (satya) insisted on. He explains that the duties (karma), which the legislators known as Kavis did not notice (apasyam) in the formulae (mantra) of Atharvaveda, are spread over in various places (bahudha) in the (other) three Vedas of the (treta) epoch. He directs the adherents of this code of truth (satyakama) to always (niyata) follow, practise (achara) them. He told his students that this was their path to the social world (loka) of those who performed good deeds (sukrta). (1-2-1)
[The translation, This is that truth. The works, which the sages saw in the hymns, are variously spread forth in the three Vedas. Perform them constantly, ye lovers of truth. This is the path to the world of good deeds, does not present the intent correctly.]
Agni, the civil judge and Visvedevas present at the sacrifice
The teacher draws attention to how the fire at the ritual is kindled. When the flame moves after the fire is kindled, then only, one should throw with faith his oblations between the two portions of the ghee (1-2-2).
One who performs the agnihotra sacrifice to get approval of Agni, the civil judge, for his civil projects should follow it up with the fortnightly sacrifices on new moon day and full moon day and the one on completion of four months (that is, after the harvest). At these sacrifices the visvedevas, prominent nobles of the larger society were expected to be present.
If the offerings were not made according to the prescribed procedure (vidhi), the householder who performed that sacrifice would be found an offender by all the seven social worlds (bhu, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya), the student (Saunaka) was warned by Angiras. (3)
[It is not sound to describe the seven lokas as the three ancestors, the performer of the ritual and his three descendants. It is also not sound to treat them as the earth and the six planes above it. The remark that the opposition of the Upanishads to the observance of rites is greatly exaggerated is irrelevant and unwarranted.]
The teacher describes the seven portions of the flame from the sacrificial fire as representing seven different appearances or aspects of the lady (devi, goddess) as Kali, Karali, Manojava, Sulohita, Sudhumravarna, Sphulingini and Visvaruchi. [This verse seems to be out of place here.] (1-2-4)
He says that whosoever performs sacrifices, makes offerings when these tongues of flame are shining and at the proper time, these offerings like the rays of Surya (sun, in common parlance) would lead him to the abode of the sole head of the nobles (devas) (1-2-5)
The radiant (suvarchas, qualifying) offerings invite him and carry the performer of the sacrifice by the rays of Surya. They honour him and salute him with kind words and usher him to the social world of academicians (brahma-loka) entry to which he had won through good deeds (sukrta). (1-2-6)
[The comment that the highest reward for the sacrificial worship performed by men is the attainment of heaven, svarga and that this heaven does not mean Brahma-loka, which is attained through other spiritual disciplines does not convince.]
The rafts where the eighteen persons connected with the sacrifice (sixteen priests, the host and his consort) are seated are unsteady. It is more likely that the teacher was referring to the duties performed by the officials in the eighteen departments of the state. The duties, karma, performed by them, are of lower type. The deluded who rejoice in them as leading to merit (sreya) fall again into physical decay (jara) and death or insentience (mrtyu). The students are warned against expecting benefits from this mere ritualistic performance of duties, which do not require mastery of the different disciplines of study (vidya). (1-2-7)
Lack of proper education cause of poverty and decadence
Abiding in the midst of ignorance (avidya, absence of formal education), considering themselves to be wise (able to discern correctly between right and wrong, dhira), thinking themselves to be learned (panditas), these fools who are given to and surrounded by low pleasures go about like blind men led by one who is blind (1-2-8).
The immature (bala) persons moving among the multitude (bahudha) characterized by non-acquaintance with the formal disciplines of study (avidya) think that they have accomplished the objective of their duties (krta-artha). Since persons perform the duties with attachment to personal desires (raga) and do not understand their wide implications (pravedayanti), they sink, poverty-stricken (atura) when the stratum (loka) they had attained becomes decadent (kshina). (1-2-9)
They are foolish (pramudha) who do not know any other merit (sreya), for they treat fulfilment of personal desires (ishta) as the most important (varishta) (function of an official). Having experienced the life at the apex of the other society won by good performance (sukrta) they reenter this social world (loka) of academicians or a still lower one.
The other (industrial) society was noted for its adulation of success in pursuit of material wealth. The teacher points out that the academicians who are admitted to the higher ranks of that society which are free from sorrows as a reward for their good performance of duties entrusted to them as administrators do not find those ranks as having real merit and soon return to their academies to pursue their studies or take up lower positions.
[The remark that from heaven or from a subhuman plane he returns to earth as a human being and takes up the thread of higher evolution indicates the failure to follow the purpose of the instruction given to the student.] (2-10)
The seven social worlds (lokas)
The interpretation that according to Hindu scriptures bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya are six planes above the earth, bhu, is unsound. It is also not sound to interpret that jana, tapa and satya form Brahmaloka. The commentator notes that bhuva or inter-space is located between earth (bhu) and heaven (sva) and that maha is located between svarga (heaven) and Brahmaloka. He claims that performers of meritorious action attain to these heavenly worlds according to the nature of their works but except for a few others return to the earth after exhaustion of the results of their action.
He claims that: some of the dwellers in Brahmaloka also come back. But others attain liberation from Brahmaloka after the completion of the cycle. The happiness of the lower heavenly worlds, attained through Vedic sacrifices and philanthropic activities has been described in the previous verse. These claims and interpretations are unacceptable.
The seven lokas were agrarian commonalty (bhu), industrial society (bhuva), urban aristocracy (sva), cadre of legislators (maha), representatives of the native society (jana), members of the scientific community (tapa) and members of the judiciary (satya). They were social ranks of the larger society of the Vedic times.
When the code based on truth (satya) was superseded by the socio-political constitution (Brahma) the members of the constitution bench who were Brahmavadis, socio-political ideologues-cum-activists were ranked higher than the other six ranks.
Many of those persons who were accepted in higher ranks had to return to the original level or were shunted even to lower ranks if they did not come up to the expectations of the higher ranks. This perspective is neeeded to appreciate the Upanishads correctly.
The Brahmarshis were mostly dedicated tapasvis who had their abodes in the forests. They were engaged in meditation to find out what was yet not known and lived in quietude away from communities unlike the sages (maharshis) who were social legislators or the Brahmavadis who were social activists. Some of them moved about seeking alms.
Freed from sins caused by aggrandizement (viraja) these activists moved through the door controlled by Surya, the highest officer of the administrative body of the nobility to the place where the social leader (purusha) had been admitted to the privileges of that nobility (amrta) and granted immunities without his individuality (atma) suffering exhaustion (avyaya). (1-2-11)
[The translation, But those who practise austerity and faith in the forest, the tranquil knowers who live the life of a mendicant, depart freed from sin, through the door of the sun to where dwells the immortal, imperishable person fails to bring out the import of this verse. The comment that the mendicant rather than the resident community of monks has been the Indian ideal is uncalled for. Similarly the claim that in these verses the Upanishad points out the superiority of the way of knowledge to the empty and formal ritualism of the Brahmanas is not sound.] [The claim that this verse describes gradual liberation, kramamukti, is unacceptable.]
Brahma-nishta and ardent follower of the constitution
Having examined the (advantages) of the (higher) social ranks (lokas) (like sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya) attained by performance of duties (karma) a jurist (Brahmana) must become unattached to any particular intellectual position.
[The translation, Let a Brahman after having examined all these worlds that are gained by works, acquire freedom from desires does not bring out the import of this statement.] One cannot attain by constructive action (krta) what is not a created thing (akrta). [The translation, The world that is not made is not won by what is done is not to the mark.]
In order to gain this knowledge that is not yet known (vijnana) one must approach in a formal way the teacher who is well versed in Vedas (srutis) and is an ardent follower (nishta) of Atharvaveda (Brahma). [The phrase, established in Brahman fails to bring out the meaning of Brahma-nishta.] (1-2-12)
To that pupil who has approached him in the prescribed formal manner and whose mind is tranquil and whose senses are restrained and orderly, the learned teacher (vidvan) should impart the knowledge of the highest social constitution, Brahma-vidya, by which one knows the role of the permanent (akshara) social leader (purusha) in accordance with the social philosophy based on the principles of truth (satya) (that prevailed before it was superseded by this constitution). (13)
[The translation, Unto him who has approached in due form, whose mind is tranquil and who has attained peace, let the knowing teacher teach in its very truth that knowledge about Brahman by which one knows the Imperishable Person, the true is imperfect.]
Purusha as Envisaged by the Code Based on Truth, Satya
The teacher tells the student that according to the principles of truth (satya) on which the social code was based (during the later Vedic times), various individuals (beings) came forth (prajayanta) from that permanent (akshara) social leader (purusha) and they returned to him later. Their emergence is compared to thousands of sparks of like form (sarupa) issuing from the blazing (sudeepta) purifying fire (pavaka) (2-1-1).
The sparks are all alike. The Vedic official, Agni or Pavaka who functioned as civil judge of the commonalty was interested in giving punishments that would be corrective rather than punitive. He upheld the principle of equality of all. But the concept of social leader (purusha) conceded the argument that all could not be equal and that there was diversity in social life. The diverse attitudes had a common objective.
[The interpretation that though the multiplicity of jivas is the result of Brahmans association, through maya, with various bodies, each characterized by a name and form, Brahman or Pure Consciousness itself is one and indivisible fails to highlight the above aspect correctly.]
The social leader (purusha) as envisaged by the code based on truth (satya) was recognized as having the traits of the aristocracy (divi) but was not physically a member of that stratum (amurta).
He belonged earlier either to the agro-pastoral commonalty or to the industrial economy. The commonalty was located outside (bahya) the city that was the residence of the governing elite and the industrial society in the depths of the distant forests and mountains (abhyantara).
He is not a born (aja) aristocrat but is not one who is at the mere subsistence level (aprana). He is not a mere thinker (amana). He is pure (subhra) and permanent (akshara) and ranks higher than the members of the other (para) social world (that is, the aristocracy) (2-1-2).
[The translation, Divine and formless is the person. He is within and without, unborn, without breath and without mind, pure and higher than the highest immutable fails to bring out the import of this verse. The comment that akshara means the unmanifested prakrti and that the self is beyond this is unwarranted.]
The teacher explains that the social leader (purusha) who was superior to the nobles had given recognition as separate social cadres to the individuals at the bare subsistence level (prana), to the thinkers (mana) and to all the socio-political organs (sarva indriya), which are enumerated as kham, vayu, jyoti, apa and prthvi, the operators of the hollow mines, the residents of the open areas, the cadre of guides, the fluid population and the organized settled population of agro-pastoral plains. [These are loosely translated as ether, air, light, water and earth, the five elements of which all matter is formed.] This purusha is visualized as the supporter (dharini) of the larger society (visva). (3)
[The interpretation that the whole creation is traced to the personal lord, Isvara who along with the principle of objectivity is a manifestation of the Absolute Brahman is irrelevant here. The interpretation, The imperishable and attributeless Absolute has been briefly described in the previous verse while here it has been reiterated that the attributeless Absolute (nirguna Brahman) is not essentially different from saguna Brahman who is the direct cause of creation is unwarranted and unacceptable. There is no need to treat the Purusha as identical with Brahman.]
The different Purusha statuettes and their significances
The statuette of the Purusha was popular then. The teacher would correlate its head with Agni, the scholar and Vedic official who looked after the interests of the commonalty (prthvi) and its eyes with the two Vedic officials, Soma and Surya who looked after the residents of the forests and mountains (antariksham) and the patriciate (divam). He correlated the ears (srotra) with reports from the distant regions (disa) and its mouth (utterances, vak) with the uncovered (vivrta) Vedas. Vayu (open space) is correlated to the people at the bare subsistence level (prana) and the heart to the larger society (visvam).
The Purusha allegory makes the agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi), emerge from the feet of this figure. [Purusha-Sukta presented the class of workers, Shudras, emerging from the feet.] The allegory here treats the entire class of agriculturists and cattle-breeders as being at the base of this figure of the larger society. The teacher identifies the social leader, Purusha, as being the conscience (antaratma) of all the discrete individuals (sarva-bhuta). (2-1-4)
[The translation, Fire is His head, His eyes are the sun and the moon, the regions of space are His ears, His speech the revealed Vedas; air is His life and His heart the world. Out of his feet the earth (is born); indeed He is the self of all beings does not bring out the import of this verse. The claim that we have here a description of the visva-rupa that is enlarged in the Bhagavad-Gita is untenable. The interpretation that in this verse Brahman is conceived of as Virat, the first embodied manifestation of the Lord as the totality of the bodies in the universe and also as the inmost self of all beings does not convince.]
The teacher says that according to this concept of purusha, the head of the body of intelligentsia (samiti) of the commonalty who is designated as Agni derives his authority and influence from the head of the governing elite who is designated as Surya. The official, who looked after agriculture and was designated as Parjanya, derived his influence from Soma who represented the frontier society of forests and mountains.
Implicit in this picture is the notion that forests and mountains bring the rain needed for cultivation and are hence not to be ignored. The herbs that grow in forests and moors too like the agro-pastoral lands, prthvi, are dependent on rain and come under the ambit of Soma, the head of the larger intelligentsia. This purusha, the head of the larger society adopts (samprasuta) all as his subjects (offspring, praja) even as a child is born to a man by the semen he casts in a woman. (2-1-5)
The teacher draws the attention of the student to the features of the expanded society in which the agrarian tracts (prthvi) of the core society are found to be dependent on the frontier society of forests and mountains.
[The translation, From Him comes the fire whose fuel is the sun; from the moon comes rain, the herbs that grow on the earth; from the herbs, the seminal fluid which a man pours into a woman. Thus many living beings are born of the Purusha, fails to bring out the import of this verse. The comment that the heavens, rain, earth, man and woman are described as five kinds of sacrificial fire and that the souls journey through them is compared to the offering of an oblation is inane and unacceptable.]
The concept of the larger society as represented by the figure of the Purusha leads to the purposes described in the three Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Sama, and to the rules prescribed for initiation and performance of sacrifices and all duties in general and payment of fees in the form of dakshina to the officials guiding these activities throughout the year and the eligibility of the host. (A later interpolation?) This concept also describes which social worlds (lokas) come under the ambit of Soma, the purifier and Surya. Soma headed the larger intelligentsia and the frontier society of forests and mountains while Surya performed his duties on behalf of the ruling patriciate of the core society. (2-1-6)
[The translation, From Him are born the rch (verses), the saman (chants), the Yajus (formulas), the rites of initiation, all the sacrifices, ceremonies and sacrificial gifts, the year too and the sacrificer, and the worlds where the moon purifies and the sun (shines) fails to bring out the meaning of this verse adequately. The claim that here there is a reference to the world of the fathers and to the world of the gods is untenable.]
The teacher points out that according to this concept of Purusha, the larger society dominated by Soma and Surya covered the different groups adopted (samprasuta) as nobles (devas), saddhyas (the Vedic group of wise men who ranked higher than the four groups of nobles, Vasus, Rudras, Adityas and Maruts), commoners (manushyas), animals and birds. This larger society brought under its ambit all those who were at the bare existence level (prana) and those who were expelled from the organized society (apana).
This concept covered also cultivation of grains, meditation (tapas, severe endeavour) by which what was not yet known was known and the spirit and methods of dedication (sraddha). It also described the rules based on truth (satya) and (the course and method of education to be undergone during) the stage of Brahmacharya and all procedural laws in general (vidhi). (2-1-7)
[It is not sound to translate the term, tapas as, penance meant for purification of the mind. The claim that sraddha indicates an affirmative attitude of mind which accepts as true the revelations of the scriptures regarding the immortality of the soul and the reality of Brahman is untenable.]
The teacher holds that the concept of Purusha, the larger society covers all the seven social worlds (lokas), all those individuals (prana) assigned to them, the seven types of flames that are to be lit there and the appropriate gathering of intellectuals (samit) of each of these worlds and the seven types of oblations performed by them. All the individuals (prana) move from one social rank to another. They are all guided by the council of seven sages which each of the social worlds had. These sages lived in secret places (guhya, cave). (2-1-8)
[Some have interpreted that the seven pranas indicate the seven organs, two eyes, two nostrils, two ears and mouth. This verse has confounded the modern scholars who have overlooked the relevance of the concept of seven lokas, bhu, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya.]
The concept of the larger society calls for recognition of the seas, mountains and rivers of all types, that is, of the economies related to them. It also calls for recognizing the herbs (aushadi) and medicinal extracts (rasa) by people who lived in the moors and all the individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery who listen to only their conscience (antaratma) and are not bound by the codes of any organized social world. (2-1-9)
[The translation, From him all the seas and the mountains, from him flow rivers of every kind; from him are all herbs and their juice too; by which, together with the elements, the inner soul is upheld does not bring out the import of this verse. The remark, While the inward way of contemplation takes us to the self, there is the other side of union with the world. The knower penetrates the whole world and becomes the All, indicates that the commentator suspected that this verse contained a note of a large society (visva) with several sections of population conditioned by the different types of physical environment in which they lived.]
The concept of social leader (purusha) is identified with this larger society (visva) and the functions (karma) of the members of its different units, their endeavour (tapas) and the status of Brahma, the guardian of the socio-political constitution, which is beyond the rank of the aristocracy (amrtam). The teacher tells the students that one who knows this secret is freed from the bond of ignorance (avidya), that is, he becomes trained in the disciplines of study. (2-1-10)[The remark that the universe has no existence apart from Brahman or Purusha is irrelevant here.]
The Concept of Universal Constitution and its upholder, Brahma
This personage (purusha) who is seen to occupy the stable (samnihita) position (padam) of the highest jurist and legislator (mahat) who knows the secrets (guha) of polity and is entitled to interpret and implement the socio-political constitution (Brahma), is constantly on the move (chara) (in the corridors of the academy). He is not an anonymous person.
The teacher tells Saunaka, a student in the academy located in the forest (aranyaka) that was raised within a wink (nimisha) of the eye that all the beings that were at the subsistence level (prana) and were constantly on the move had offered (samarpita) their services to Brahma.
The teacher advises the student to understand that Brahma was both sat and asat. That is, the socio-political constitution the jurist was implementing was based partly on the permanent essential principle of truth (sat) and partly on the temporary and expedient measures (asat).
[This was the transition to the concepts of dharma and apaddharma, normative behaviour and permitted deviance from it.]
The teacher advises him to recognize this constitution as one to be highly desired and as being superior (varishta) among the various codes that the subjects (prajas) (who were drawn from different areas of the extended society) were acquainted (vijana) with (2-2-1).
[The translation, The luminous Brahman dwells in the cave of the heart and is known to move there. It is the great support of all; for in It is centred everything that moves, breathes and blinks. O disciples, know that to be your Self, that which is both gross and subtle, which is adorable, supreme and beyond the understanding of creatures, is off the mark.]
The teacher describes the personage who holds the post of Brahma on a permanent (akshara) tenure, as one who is shining (archimat) and who is subtler (anu) than the subtle. (He might have been known as Archi, one of the twelve administrators, Adityas.) All the social worlds or strata (lokas) and their members (lokina) were under the jurisdiction of this constitution and the personage holding this post. He represented the interests of all the beings (pranas) who were at the bare existence level and was their spokesman (vak) and thought for them (was their mind). This was the position in accordance with the code based on the principle of truth (satya). He belonged to the ranks of the aristocracy (amrtam).
The teacher asked his student to know this aspect and feature of the concept of Brahma. (It had to be aimed at. For, the student was expected to become a member of this constitution bench that would be presided over by Brahma).
[The transliteration, What is luminous, what is subtler than the subtle, in which are centred all the worlds and those that dwell in them, that is the imperishable Brahman. That is life; that is speech and mind. That is true, that is immortal, O beloved that is to be known, know (that), fails to bring out the import of this verse. The translation, That alone is to be struck; strike it is inapt.] (2-2-2)
The teacher calls upon his pupil to treat the counsel contained in the Upanishad as a great weapon like a bow and fit in it the arrow honed by concentration. He must draw it with a mind (chetasa, thought) engaged in contemplating the concept (of Brahma), the target (lakshya) being the acquisition of that undecaying (akshara) knowledge. The teacher asks him to know how to attain his goal. (3)
He compares the pranava, the alphabet (akshara), aum, whose sound reverberates in the cosmos for ever undecaying (akshara) when once uttered, to the bow. The individual with an identity (atma) is compared to the arrow. This atma has to reach the target, which is the status of Brahma (the highest position in the social polity as the guardian of its constitution). The target has to be hit without mistake. Thus one obtains the trait of the arrow, which is fitted in the bow (which has been compared to the counsel of the Upanishad). (2-2-4) [The claim that after reaching Brahman, the atma becomes one with It is not pertinent here.]
The concept, Brahma, covers all the three organized social worlds, the patriciate (dyau), the agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi), and the frontier society of the forests and mountains (antariksham), which follows industrial economy. It also covers the thinkers (mana) who unlike the members of these three social worlds are not bound by social and economic codes and traditions. It covers also all those individuals who are at the bare existence level (sarva prani) and are not viewed as members of any socio-economic body.
[The translation, In him are woven heaven, earth and the space between, and the mind with all the sense-organs is not a rational one. The remark, In the beginning, the two worlds of heaven and earth were one. They came into separate being by the act of creation and what separates is the river or sea of time and space. From earth we have to find our way to heaven by crossing the river of time is a gross misinterpretation of the concepts pertaining to Vedic social polity.]
The teacher advises the student to know only the personage occupying the position of Brahma as what he should become, as his atma, as the identity that he should have. He should be free (vimuncha) from speaking in any other capacity.
In other words, he should as a member of the highest judiciary upholding the socio-political constitution function as an individual representing the entire society, its organized sections, and the individuals who are not members of those sections and the free thinkers. He should not be the spokesman of any particular section or pursue his own interests.
[The translation, Know that non-dual (eka) Atman alone and give up all other talk fails to bring out the import of this direction. The comment, All talk related to the lower knowledge is futile, nay, harmful, for the seeker of Brahman, is off the mark.] This officer of the judiciary (brahma) has a status that is a bridge (setu) to cultural aristocracy (amrta). [The translation, He is the bridge to Immortality fails to bring out this note.] (2-2-5)
Even as the spokes in the wheel of a chariot are fixed in the hub, the arteries (of the social body) are fixed in the officer of the high judiciary, Brahma. But he is not stationary. He moves about as a social organizer adopting (jayamana) the policy of diversity (bahudha) (in unity). The teacher points out the need for such a hub so that the wheel of the chariot may be set in motion.
[The translation, He moves about, becoming manifold, within the heart, where the arteries meet, like the spokes fastened in the nave of a chariot wheel is not to the mark.]
The teacher advises the student, an aspirant to the position of the spokesman and guardian of the different sectors of the larger society to develop his individuality (atma) as a unifying force even as the syllable, aum, unites all the three social worlds and also those outside them into a single society. [The translation, Meditate on aum as the self, needs to be elaborated to bring out this note.] The teacher wishes him success in crossing over to the other side of ignorance (tamas). (2-2-6)
A scholar who belongs to this commonalty (bhu, prthvi) and who knows all (sarvajna) and who has studied all the disciplines (sarvavid) and has attained greatness (mahima) is eligible to get himself established (pratishthita) in his individual capacity (atma) as a member of the intellectual aristocracy (divya brahma-pura). This social cadre like the open frontier society, antariksham or akasa or vyoma, is however lower in rank to the cultural aristocracy. The student is told what status he may expect to attain on his leaving the academy. (2-2-7)
[The translation He who is all-knowing, all-wise, whose is the greatness on the earth, in the divine city of Brahma, in the ether (of the heart) is that self-established fails to bring out correctly the meaning of this verse. The remark that this verse contains the instruction for mediocre students that they should contemplate Brahman in the lotus of the heart, shining through the various states of the mind in order to attain Liberation by gradual stages is unacceptable.]
The teacher briefs the student that this intellectual who occupies a place next only to the cultural aristocrat is basically a thinker (manomaya) and is also a leader (neta) of all individuals at the bare subsistence level (prana) and also of the members of social bodies (sarira) and is established (pratishthita) in the agrarian economy as a producer of grains (anna). He is a charismatic personage dear to (present in) the heart of the people (hrdayam sanniddhaya).
The teacher adds that the wise persons (dhira) who are able to discriminate between good and bad perceive their (socio-physical) environment (paripasya) through vijnana (the knowledge that is acquired by extrapolating the already gained knowledge, jnanam) like the members of the happy structure (ananda-rupam), the shining (vibha) cultural aristocracy (amrtam) (2-2-8)
The activist-intellectual who occupies the position of Brahma, the jurist, has in fact been a rich and charismatic social leader who is eager to know more than what he has learnt in the formal school.
[The translation, He consists of mind and is the leader of life and body and is seated in food (that is, the body) controlling the heart. The wise perceive clearly by the knowledge (of Brahman) the blissful immortal which shines forth is imperfect.]
The emotional attachments between the jurist and his erstwhile associates in social life are cut (before he assumes his new position) and he becomes free from all doubts. The effects of his earlier deeds (karma) become less potent (kshiya). He is beheld to be one belonging to the other higher rank (aristocracy, para) as well as to the lower ranks (avara), the commonalty. (2-2-9). He is not attached to either stratum.
[The translation, The fetters of the heart are broken, all doubts are resolved, and all works cease to bear fruit, when He is beheld who is both high and low, is not to the mark. The remark, The Knowledge of the Atman destroys the effect of the karma performed by man in his previous lives and also of that performed in the present life prior to the attainment of Knowledge is not pertinent here. The remark, When he sees the Real which comprehends himself, he asserts the non-reality of all that is opposed to it is irrational and unacceptable.]
The flawless (nishkalam) intellectual, Brahma, which the Viraj is, is a member of the golden treasury (hiranmaya kosa) of the other (para) social world, that is, of the aristocracy.
[The new aristocracy had accepted in its fold the plutocracy, which controlled the mines and ores of the forests and mountains.]
As Viraj (virajam), he is free from desires. He is pure (subhra) and is the light of lights (jyoti), that is, is the guide of guides. Those persons who know their own abilities (atma-vidu) know this (through informal education).
[The translation, In the highest golden sheath is Brahman without stain, without parts; Pure is it, the light of lights. That is what the knowers of self know fails to bring out the import of this verse. It is not sound to translate the term, virajam as indivisible. It rather signifies the ability to extend one's influence over others. The comment that it is through knowledge of the inner Self, and not through study of external objects, that one directly knows Brahman does not pinpoint the message of this verse.] (2-2-10)
The social cadre of jurists, Brahmans, is not under the jurisdiction of Surya, the head of the governing council appointed by the aristocracy (divam). It is also not under Chandra or Soma who had jurisdiction over the other society of forests and mountains (antariksham) and the intelligentsia stationed there.
These guides, vidyut, did not shine in that social world, Brahmaloka, that is, the academy of jurists was not influenced by either the armed aristocracy or by the larger but sober intelligentsia. Hence there was no question of their being under the jurisdiction of Agni whose writ ran only amongst the commonalty (manushyas, prthvi).
All these three guides, Surya, Chandra and Agni follow the directions given by Brahma. His wisdom guides all the members of this social world of high jurists. (2-2-11)
[The translation, The sun shines not there, nor the moon and the stars, these lightnings shine not, where then could this fire be? Every thing shines only after that shining light. His shining illumines all this world does not bring out the import of this verse. The stars come into picture when the moon does not shine. The educated unarmed upper class was referred to as nakshatra or taraka. The remark that the whole objective universe is illumined by Him for it cannot illumine itself, is irrelevant.]
The teacher asks the student to visualize this academy of jurists, as having at the centre, Brahma who enjoys all immunities even as the members of the cultural aristocracy (amrta) do. He is surrounded in all directions, front and rear, right and left (south and north), below and above by jurists, Brahma.
This larger society (visvam) follows the socio-political constitution, Brahma, which covers the codes of all the social worlds and the persons outside them. This constitution is superior (varishta) to the codes governing the discrete social worlds and the individuals outside them. (2-2-12)
[The translation, Brahman, verily, is this immortal. In front is Brahman, behind is Brahman, to the right and to the left. It spreads forth below and above. Brahman, indeed, is this universe. It is the greatest, fails to unravel the picture of Brahma, which the teacher presented to his student. He was not dealing with the concept of Brahman as Pure Consciousness.]
The Training and Clarifications on Doubts
The teacher points out to the student two birds sitting on a tree. They were companions and were always united. One of them ate the sweet fruit while the other looked on without eating (3-1-1).
A person (purusha) who was immersed (in disappointment and sprrows) and was deluded and grieving on account of his helplessness was sitting on the same tree. When he saw the other bird, who was an isa, one who was satisfied with seeing that the wishes and desires of others were fulfilled, and his magnanimity (mahima), he became freed from sorrow.
In other words the social leader who had got disillusioned, got a new direction and encouragement when he realized that happiness lay in seeing others happy and satisfied. This was the trait of the charismatic leader (isa) of the social periphery (parisha) whose members were born as individuals free to act on their own (svajata). (2)
[The translation, Seated on the same tree, the jiva moans, bewildered by his impotence. But when he beholds the other, the Lord worshipped by all, and His glory, he then becomes free from grief, is not to the mark. The discussions on why a jiva becomes sad are irrelevant here.]
When an observer (of the above transformation in the mood of that social leader, purusha) sees (and recognizes the change that has come over in the mood of) the executive (karta) who belongs to the class (varna) of bright guerdon (rukma, golden disc) he becomes equal to the highest person. That executive could become a benevolent charismatic leader (isa purusha) and enter a stratum from which the jurist (Brahma) is drawn.
[The interpretation that Brahma, the world-soul, has Isvara for his home and birthplace, fails to bring out the import of this verse. The remark that eternal life is said to consist in attaining absolute likeness to God and enjoying a life of personal immortality is not relevant here and is disputable.]
One can reach the highest cadre (judiciary) or become equal to a member of that cadre only when he has learnt the meaning of the relation between the two birds and the transformation in the mood of the despondent leader. He shakes off the effects of merits and demerits, punya and papa, and becomes free from stains. He learns to be stoical like the bird, which silently watched its companion enjoy the sweet fruit. (3-1-3)
In all the discrete individuals (bhutas) especially of the social periphery, the traits of the individuals who are at the bare existence level (prani) are latent (vibhati).
A scholar (vidvan) who recognizes the traits of the charismatic leader of that periphery who had developed the ability to be a member of the judiciary, Brahma, does not put forth any radical argument overriding his authority (ativadi).
Sporting in the self, delighting in the self, that is, happy to be alone and not in any social group, this executive becomes the best (varishta) among those who have studied the discipline known as Brahma, the socio-political constitution as incorporated in the Atharvaveda.
[The translation, Truly it is life that shines forth in all beings. Knowing him, the wise man does not talk of anything else. Sporting in the self, delighting in the self, performing works, such a one is the greatest of the knowers of Brahman, is imprecise.] The issue of whether one should continue to perform works after attaining knowledge of Brahman is not to be raised here.
The teacher was referring to the role of the executive of the rukma class of the periphery who had become a charismatic leader (isa purusha) and was promoted to the stratum of jurists (Brahma). This executive played an imperceptible role while bringing together the talented persons. This intellectual is a social activist also.(3-1-4)
[The remark that the verse tells us that he who knows the atman is also a performer of works needs to be accepted but without the mysticism that is attached unnecessarily to reality and pragmatism.]
Thinkers who are also great activists and social directors (yatis) and whose foibles (dosha) have been reduced (kshina) identify (perceive, pasya) the individual (atma) who is a member of a social body (sarira), and has the ability to give pure (subhra) guidance (jyoti).
According to the yatis, one can attain the stature and traits of that individual if he follows the code based on truth (satya) and by intense exertion (tapas) know what is not yet known. He must have systematized knowledge (samyag-jnana) and must be a life-long student always following the discipline prescribed for that purpose (nitya brahmacharya). (3-1-5)
[The translation of this verse as: This self within the body, of the nature of light and pure, is attainable by truth, by austerity, by right knowledge, by the constant practice of chastity. Him, the ascetics with their imperfections done away, behold is too simplistic to highlight the import of this verse. Were the yatis justified in calling for celibacy throughout life? Did the code based on truth (satya) violate the laws of nature (rta)?]
Satyam eva jayate na anrtam
The teacher explains that it is the pursuit of the code based on the principle of truth (satya) that alone will ensure success.
Social relations during the early Vedic era were based on the laws of nature (rta), which held that every individual had the right to pursue a course of life that was in tune with his natural aptitudes. What was against these natural tendencies was termed as anrta.
The codes based on truth (satya) were an alternative to the codes based on natural rights (rta) and were expected to be more useful than the codes that placed severe restrictions on expression of natural tendencies, that is, the codes based on anrta. [The translation of this epigram as: Truth alone conquers, not untruth is imprecise.]
The laws based on truth (satya) prescribe the path by which one can reach the highest social world known as satya-loka, the abode of the jurists who abide by the laws based on truth. The nobles (devas) had proceeded by this path and so too the sages (rshis) who had got their personal desires (apta-kama) fulfilled, had followed this path.
[The translation, By truth is laid out the path leading to the gods by which the sages who have their desires fulfilled travel to where is that supreme abode of truth is imprecise.]
The teacher insists that both the cultural aristocrats (devas) and the sages (rshis) have accepted the code based on truth (satya) and are accepted as members of the judiciary. Upanishads treated Brahmaloka as superior to Satyaloka, the highest cadre in the scheme of seven strata, bhu, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya. (3-1-6)
[Satyam eva jayate is the motto inscribed on the seal of free India. It is sad that the assertion in the Upanishad is being used imprecisely and irreverentially by practitioners of law and by demagogues most of whom have no respect for truth and ethics.]
The students had been told that the highest social stratum was that of the interpreters of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, which was applicable to the larger all-inclusive society, visva. The teacher said that it was vast (brhat) and was approved by the nobles (divya) and its form (rupa) could not be grasped (achintya).
It dealt not only with the mega-society but also with its very small units. It was subtler (sukshma) than the subtle things. It throws light on all objects and lives that are very far as well as those close at hand. The feelings hidden (guha) deep are noticed (by that scholar who has mastered Brahma). (3-1-7)
[The translation, That Brahman shines forth, vast, self-luminous, inconceivable, subtler than the subtle. He is far beyond what is far, and yet here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in the cave of the heart of the conscious beings, does not bring out the import of this verse, which clarifies the doubts raised by the student who was expected to join the cadre of this intelligentsia after his training.]
The traits of the intellectual who is a member of the aristocracy (divam) and is also an official of the highest judiciary, are not absorbed by one who follows empirical methods of observation (chakshusha) or by one who (unquestioningly) follows the rules declared (vacha) in the codes (including the Vedas). Other members of the aristocracy (devas) who are not such intellectuals too are similarly unable to recognize those traits.
Even the tapasas, who make constant effort to know the unknown fail to absorb these traits. Officials who perform their duties (karmana) too are unable to come up to the level of these jurists. But one who is of a pure (visuddha) nature (sattva) and is endowed (prasada) with knowledge from formal education (jnana) observes (pasya) through careful attention (dhyaya, meditation) the total (nishkalam, without parts) personality of that intellectual. (3-1-8). He adopts a holistic outlook.
[The translation, He is not grasped by the eye nor even by speech nor by other sense-organs, nor by austerity nor by work, but when ones intellectual nature is purified by the light of knowledge then alone he, by meditation, sees Him without parts is imperfect. The interpretation that here jnana denotes buddhi is unacceptable.]
The teacher tells the student that the traits of the insignificant (minute, anu) individual (atma) are to be known by following the school of thought (cetas), which classified the persons at the bare existence level (prana) into five (panchadha) sectors and settled them together (samvivesa) (but without annulling their separate identities). [The five sectors are prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana.]
All the thoughts (chittam) of these persons at the bare subsistence level (prana) are interwoven in the (thoughts and orientations of the) subjects (prajas) of the larger society. They are no lomger kept away from membership of the expanded social polity though their contributions to its economy were minimal. When this interwoven thought is purified, the individual (atma) (though minute) shines, influences others. (9)
[The translation, The subtle self is to be known by thought in which the senses in five different forms have centred. The whole of mens thought is pervaded by the senses. When it (thought) is purified, the self shines forth, is imperfect. The claim that the pure intellect is not different from Pure Atman is a poor attempt to conceal the failure to grasp the import of this verse.]
One who is of a pure (visuddha) nature (sattva) reaches (wins, jayata) the social stratum (loka) that he thinks of (manas) being in and whatever desires that he desires (kama). The teacher thus exhorts his student to be self-confident and develop his personality. One who desires prosperity that would give him influence (bhuti) over other individuals should know his personal talents (atma-jna) and respect (worship, archi) them, he says. (3-1-10)
[The remark that the knower of the self has all his desires fulfilled and can obtain any world he may seek is too simplistic. The claim that since the knower of Brahman becomes Brahman, a prayer to him is a prayer to Brahman Itself is unacceptable. The translation of this passage as: Whatever world a man of purified nature thinks of in his mind and whatever desires he desires, all these he attains. Therefore let him who desires prosperity worship the knower of the self gives the impression that the sage was encouraging hedonism. The sage was encouraging the student to recognize his own talents and develop them in order to attain his cherished goal.]
The Status of the Jurist, Brahma
The person who has realized his own talents knows the features, the rights and duties, privileges and immunities, advantages and restraints, of the post (dhama, abode) of the interpreter of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, who was superior to others.
The larger society, visva, is founded (nihita) in that constitution, that is, its structure and the social relations among its units are defined and guaranteed by that constitution and its interpreter. That status shines brightly.
The wise men (dhira, who are able to discern well the good and the bad) who are free from personal desires (kama) honour that personage (purusha). They transcend (ativartata) the limits prescribed by the theory of good action (sukra).
[According to this theory, only one who is found to have performed good deeds can rise high in social ladder. The interpretation that sukra; meant seed, the material cause of existence and hence of rebirth is unacceptable.] (3-2-1)
One who loves the objects of desires (kama) and thinks of them is born (jayata) here or there on account of his desires. But in the case of one who has obtained what he desires and is an individual who has been made perfect (krta-atma) (by the right type of education) all his desires are washed away (pravili) even at the stage of his education in the academy (iha). (3-2-2)
[The translation, He who entertains desires, thinking of them, is born (again) here and there on account of his desires. But of him who has his desire fully satisfied, who is a perfected soul, all his desires vanish even here (on earth), fails to bring out the defence of the course of education that insisted on self-denial. The academy expected the students to stay in its premises without getting married even after being trained fully. It is not necessary to introduce the concept of rebirth to unravel the message of this verse. The remark that when all desires are destroyed through Self-Knowledge, a man attains to Brahman and is free from rebirth is irrelevant.]
The status and character of such a perfect individual (atma) cannot be attained by listening to or delivering public discourses (pravacana, lectures given by the teachers connected with extension studies) or by listening to or teaching as an expert (medhaya) or by hearing many (bahu) reports and chronicles (srutis, Vedas). The teacher discourages these alternatives of self-education and insists on lifelong formal study in the academy.
The teacher permits the student to choose any one of the options available in the academy and become perfect. Such a perfected individual may study by himself (svam) the minor fields (tanu) of optional studies (vivruna). (3-2-3)
[The translation, The self cannot be attained by instruction or by intellectual power or even through much hearing. He is to be attained by the one whom (the self) chooses. To such a one the self reveals his own nature is unacceptable. The discussion whether it is Atman (God) that reveals to the seeker Its true nature or whether Atman is attained by him alone whom It chooses for the purpose of revealing Its true nature is unnecessary.]
A (socially) weak (balahina) person cannot attain the status of a perfected individual (atma) who is eligible to become a member of the assembly of high jurists (brahma-loka). So too one who underestimates (pramada) the duties and functions of such a jurist and thinks that they are easy cannot become its member.
Similarly a tapasvi, a meditator who tries to discover the not yet known, but is uncommitted (alinga, without signs or marks) is not fit to enter that cadre.
But a perfected individual (atma) if he is a scholar (vid) and strives (yata) using the prescribed means (upaya) can enter the abode of the jurists (brahma-dhama). (3-2-4)
The teacher was not for admitting to the judiciary any individual who had no social power or did not take seriously his duties or was an aimless tapasvi. The jurists were drawn from the ranks of activists known as Brahmavadis and not from those of Brahmarshis who were not committed to any ideology. As socio-political ideologues, the jurists could resort to all the four means (sama, dana, bheda and danda, conciliation, gift, rift and coercion).
[The translation, This Atman cannot be attained by one who is without strength or earnestness or who is without knowledge accompanied by renunciation. But if a wise man strives by means of these aids, his soul enters the Abode of Brahman is untenable.]
The sages (rshis), who have obtained the qualifications necessary (samprapta) for a place in that judiciary, are satisfied with the knowledge (jnana that they have acquired through formal studies in the academy) and have become perfected individuals (krta-atma) with their own identities. [They have received the training needed to become jurists.] They are also free from personal desires and have become tranquil (prasanta).
Having obtained all the things present (sarvagam) on all sides (sarvata), these wise men (dhira) who can discern between good and bad, as trained and qualified (yukta) individuals (atma) enter into all this (that is, all the roles, privileges and immunities associated with the status of a high jurist).
[The teacher clarified that he was not debarring the rshis, sages, from becoming members of the impartial judiciary.] (5)
The teacher explains that the sages who had ascertained well (given authoritative and good stands on) the meaning of the science (vijnana) of Vedanta and have purified (suddha) their nature (sattva) by striving along the duties and functions (yoga) prescribed for the stage of renunciation (samnyasa) become members of the high academy (Brahmaloka).
At the end of their career (anta kala) there they are constituted into the higher aristocracy (para-amrta). They are all freed from their circumscribing duties (pramuchyata) when they reach that stage. (3-2-6)
The translation, The ascetics who have ascertained well the meaning of the Vedanta knowledge, who have purified their natures through the path of renunciation, they dwelling in the worlds of Brahma, at the end of time, being one with the immortal, are all liberated, fails to bring out the import of this verse.
The teacher had to explain to his students whether they were expected to go through the four stages of life, brahmacharya when one had to be a celibate, grhastha when one was permitted to get his desires (kama) fulfilled, vanaprastha when he was free from duties to his kith and kin and samnyasa when he would be preparing himself for total separation from duties to himself and his society.
The teacher envisages a cultural aristocracy that was superior to the intellectual aristocracy (brahma-loka) which itself was superior to the governing elite of nobles (devas). It was only after they had attained the level of that higher cultural aristocracy the sages most of whom were in the stage of vanaprastha could be freed from their duties to their socio-physical environment.
The comment that the unillumined soul, after death, either returns to the earth or goes to an upper or lower world is irrational.
The students seem to have sought clarification on the status of the different aspects of the personality of the great social organizer as described in Prasna Upanishad (6-4). These were prana, sraddha, kham, vayu, jyoti, apa, prthvi, indriya, manas, anna, virya, tapa, mantra, karma, lokas and nama. The fifteen aspects other than prana go to their respective bases (pratishtha).
[I have pointed out that according to the sage, Pippalada, these sixteen were departments of the social polity that was visualized as Purusha. The fifteen aspects together with the hub to which they were attached were considered to contribute to the concept of the Purusha with sixteen feet.]
In the larger society, a cordial correlation was present between all the nobles (devas) of the core society and their counterparts (prati-devatas) of the other society.
[The translation, Gone are the fifteen parts to their respective supports (the elements) and all the gods (sense organs) into their corresponding deities is illogical and unacceptable.]
The teacher of the Mundaka Upanishad says that the functions (karma) and the individuality (atma) of Brahma who is essentially an intellectual (vijnana-maya atma) all become one in that jurist who has been freed from all personal and social duties. (3-2-7)
Even as the flowing rivers disappear in the sea and cast away their separate identities (nama-rupa, name and form), the above intellectual becomes a divya-purusha, a member of the highest social stratum and a noble performing the role of a social leader. (3-2-8)
[The remark that the souls attain universality of spirit is irrelevant. The interpretation that the word, great refers to Brahman with attributes (Saguna Brahman) which is the highest entity in the relative universe is unacceptable.]
The teacher asserts that that individual who has mastered the socio-political constitution, Brahma (Vedas in general, Atharvaveda in particular) becomes a member of the cadre of Brahmas (jurists). In this faculty (kula of Brahmans) there can be no one who has not studied Brahma.
He crosses the bridge of sorrows and sins. And then he is freed from the knots of secrecy (guha) (that he has been required to observe during the course of his training) and becomes a member of the aristocracy (amrta, immortality in common parlance). (3-2-9)
[The translation, He who knows the Supreme Brahman verily becomes Brahman. In his family no one is born ignorant of Brahman. He overcomes grief; he overcomes evil; free from the fetters of the heart, he becomes immortal is irrational.] The teacher then cites a hymn (rcha) in which the above stand is iterated.
Only to those persons who perform the rites and who are experts in expounding the Vedas (srutis) and are devoted (nishtha) to Atharvaveda (Brahma) and have volunteered themselves to the cause of the lone sage (ekarshi) with dedication (sraddha), one may declare this science (vidya) of jurisprudence (Brahmavidya).
[It does not sound rational to hold that the term, ekarshi refers to a particular type of sacrifice in which the fire is carried on the head.] This knowledge may be passed on to such a person by one who has carried on his head this responsibility according to rules. (3-2-10)
[The interpretation that this verse stresses that the knower of Brahman has to follow certain rituals cannot be upheld.]
The teacher says that this assertion, which accords with the code based on truth (satya) has been declared earlier by Rshi Angiras (one of the main editors of Atharvaveda). The (later) teacher while offering his respect to the sages bars those persons who have not performed the prescribed acts (of purification) from reading this essay. (11)