FOUR SECTIONS OF
THE SOCIO-POLITICAL CONSTITUTION, BRAHMA
Four Feet and Holistic approach
The syllable, Aum, denotes all this, says the teacher. He explains that it denotes everything that has been in the past (bhuta) and will be there in the future (bhava) in addition to what is there.
He would adopt a holistic attitude and look at the society in its entirety covering its past as known from the chronicles and other literary works and its future as can be envisaged by extrapolating that knowledge and the current trends.
The syllable, aum, denotes this holistic picture of human society and other beings and objects of nature and created things. It denotes also the remote past that is beyond the knowledge recorded in the available literature and also beyond what can be learnt through methods of extrapolation and as pertaining to the distant future.
Not all events of the present and not all sectors of the larger society as existing now have been grasped, as the existence of some of the species is still unknown. Aum takes into account all the three times, past, present and future and what is beyond them. (1)
The interpretation that aum stands for the manifested world, the past, the present and the future as well as the un-manifested Absolute is unwarranted.
All this, that is, things and objects, events and trends, covered above under the known past, the present and the future that can be visualized and things of the remote past, unnoticed in the present and beyond the foreseeable future, is covered by the concept, Brahma, and its theme and sweep. This spirit, atma, existing since the remote past and existing everywhere and will exist everywhere and forever is Brahma.
This atma is visualized as a four-footed (animal) being. The term, chatushpada, is interpreted as referring to the four aspects, waking state (visva), dream state (taijasa), state of dreamless sleep (prajna), and state of spiritual consciousness (turiya).
We would not try to solve the allegory by resort to the distinctions among the four stages of awareness. The socio-political constitution covering the entire society, its remote past, past, present, invisible present, foreseeable future and the distant possibilities, can be presented in four parts.
Vaisvanara, representing the entire polity
The first part deals with the concept, vaisvanara. Its locale is the state (sthana) that is ever awake (jagarita).
In other words, the representative of the entire larger society, which is awake to its needs and the limits and constraints on its actions, is called the vaisvanara. His jurisdiction is described in the first chapter. He represents not only a social polity that is conscious of its power and possibilities but also those who are outside (bahi) it but are aware (prajna), that is, who are intellectuals of the social periphery.
This polity has seven constituents or organs (angas) and nineteen faces. Vaisvanara experiences the benefits provided by material objects (sthula). He is a realist. (3)
The commentator draws attention to Chhandogya Upanishad (5-18-2) in connection with the concept of seven limbs. This needs analysis. The concept of Vaisvanara there is different from the one developed here.
The sage was dealing with the expanded janapada, the core society of the agrarian plains in which the periphery and the pastoral tracts had been merged along with the frontier society of the forests and mountains to be governed by the officials heading the seven organs of the state.
The Vaisvanara, the representative of all the sectors and all the strata of this mega-society heads the eighteen departments of the state. These eighteen and the Vaisvanara together formed the nineteen mouths to be fed.
[Others have interpreted that these nineteen included five organs of sense, five organs of action, five vital breaths, mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and thought (cittam).]
The commentator was near the mark when he said, He is called Vaisvanara because he leads all creatures of the universe in diverse ways to the enjoyment of various objects, or because he comprises all beings. The waking state is the normal state of the natural man, who without reflection accepts the universe as he finds it. The same physical universe bound by uniform laws presents itself to all such men. This interpretation was imperfect.
Taijasa, Exhibition of ones talents
The second part of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, deals with the concept, taijasa. The social leader who has a halo that marks him as different from others deals with the aspirations of the different sectors of the society, especially, of those who are aware of the inner potentials of the larger society. [The translation, who cognises internal objects fails to pinpoint this aspect.] He too is concerned with the seven organs of the state and the eighteen departments that he heads.
The interpretation, While the Visva which is the subject of the waking state, cognises material objects in the waking experience, the taijasa experiences mental states dependent on the predispositions left by the waking experiences is inaccurate.
The inner potential of every one of these seven organs of the state and its eighteen departments is brought out and allowed to exhibit itself because of the activities of this leader. It is not correct to state that the teacher distinguishes between waking and dream experiences. (4)
Prajna, Awareness of ones talents
Often the talents of the individual are not brought to the fore (where one is fast asleep) and he does not entertain any desires (that is, when he does not see dreams any more, having all desires fulfilled). When the society is composed of such individuals, it is said to be in a deep sleep of harmless inactivity (sushupta sthana).
The third section of Brahma deals with the concept of prajna the intellectual who is aware of his talents and of the hidden talents of the individual members of the larger society and is able to become one with this society that had in the past been active (and restless) but is now experiencing deep torpor like a massive object (ghana).
This intellectual who is aware of his talents and the talents of this satisfied society is full of bliss enjoying all immunities and privileges (ananda). He is the social guide, cetas or pracetas. His role is described in third chapter. He was next to the Purusha in the Purusha constitution. He was the guardian of the society that led a satisfied life. He would ensure that complacency does not lead to its fall.
The term, bhuta, referred to the discrete individual of the social periphery that was not part of the agro-pastoral economy of the plains (prthvi) or of the industrial economy of the frontier society of the forests and mountains (antariksham). These individuals did originally belong to either of the two organized societies, but had dropped out of them or had been shunted out by them. The term, budha, referred to the intellectual of that periphery and the terms, isvara, isa and isana to its charismatic and helpful chieftains. (5)
Isvara, the charismatic head
The teacher draws attention to such a chief whom all individuals to whichever social world they belonged, worshipped and followed.
The terms, Isvara, Mahesvara, Sarvesvara, Lokesvara, Sarvalokesvara, indicated the status of such a charismatic chief and the extent of his charisma and influence.
This chief was also an intellectual who knew all sciences and was aware of all happenings and trends. He was sarvesvara and also sarvajna. The author does not visualise him as being stationed in a different social world and controlling his followers from there. He was part of the social periphery, which he influenced from within.
All directions that the individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery were required to follow may be traced to him. He is the yoni, origin, of all prohibitory orders, yamas. He influences what they would be in the future (prabhava) and he unites them all (apyaya).
The translation of this verse as, This is the lord of all, this is the knower of all, this is the inner controller; this is the source of all; this is the beginning and end of beings does not bring out its intent. The claim that It is the first time in the history of thought that the distinction between Absolute and God, Brahman and Isvara, turiya and prajna is elaborated requires re-examination. (6) This verse talks of an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent benevolent authority.
The fourth section of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, deals with a concept that is superior to vaisvanara, taijasa and prajna. This authority is not an awakened individual located inside the organised community or outside it, nor one connected with both. He does not belong to the inactive intelligentsia (prajnana-ghana).
This authority is neither an awakened individual (prajna) nor a non-intellectual (aprajna). He is not visible (adrshta). He is not connected with economy (avyavaharya). It is difficult to comprehend his traits. He has no identifying marks. He is beyond thought (acintya) and cannot be described. He is the essence of the spirit of oneness (ekatma pratyaya saram).
In other words the chief who has the following of all individuals whether they belong to the core society or to the frontier society or to the intermediate periphery represents the spirit of social integration. All have the same spirit, which is not the product of an ideology or affiliation to a sect. (The translation, the essence of the knowledge of the one self, is not convincing.)
The entire universe, to be precise, the federal social polity (prapanca) had a subsidiary alliance (upasamam) with this Isvara by which it would accept the latter as a sovereign in return for protection and peace (santi) guaranteed. This Isvara, Siva, is the supreme authority and has no equal (advaita). [The concept, non-dualism, is not to be read here.]
This individual (atma) is recognized as the supreme authority. His power and influence is to be known, the teacher tells his students. (7)
The interpretation that in this passage, we get to a reality which is beyond the distinction of subject and object and yet is above and not below this distinction and that it reflects super-theism rather than atheism or anti-theism is imprecise. Neither theism nor super-theism is advanced in this passage.
This authority who is superior to the free man who represents all social sectors and strata (Vaisvanara), the leader who brings out the hidden talents of all (taijasa) and the intellectual who activates the inactive talented intellectuals (prajna) is the head of the federal social polity (prapanca, a polity which is wider than the cty and the four rural areas around it) whom this scholar describes as Isvara and Siva and others would describe him as Virat.
This passage does not use the term, turiya or deep sleep. The interpretation, Brahman cannot be treated as having objects of knowledge or powers. Here Brahman becomes Isvara or personal God with the quality of prajna or pure wisdom is unacceptable.
The individual who is not part of any social body and who is superior to vaisvanara, taijasa and prajna has the traits of all the three authorities who are indicated by the three alphabets, a, u and m. (8)
The interpretation of the expression, sa ayam atma, as it is the deepest essence of the soul, the image of Godhead is unwarranted.
Siva as Isvara looks after the interests of all even as Vaisvanara is the representative of all. He by his charisma arouses the talents of all as Taijasa and as Prajna activates even the intellectuals who have reached the highest positions and tend to rest on their past achievements. He goes beyond them and brings all together while making them agree to be his subordinates in return for the peace and security he enables them to enjoy. He however does not deny the five sections of the federal polity (headed by Agni, Surya, Vayu, Soma and Mrtyu) administrative autonomy.
This principle is described in the fourth section of the constitution based on the implications of the syllable, aum. Vaisvanara who is related to the state of alertness (awakened) is correlated to the first stage a. He who knows (this and places his trust in) this free man (nara) and representative of the entire society (visva) obtains all that he desires. He becomes the first (in his social group thereby. (9)
While realism is the first stage, aspirations and optimism (indicated by the term, svapna) mark the second stage, u. Utkarsa or enthusiasm marks the cadres of the society, which continue to cherish the knowledge already acquired (jnana-samtati) and which maintains equanimity and equity (samana).
Every member of such an academic faculty is acquainted with the provisions of the socio-political constitution, Brahma. Taijasa is a social leader trained in that academy whose members are optimistic and are committed to the concept of equality. (10)
Prajna is related to a complacent intelligentsia that has got the aspirations of its members met and enjoys all immunities and rights and hence is not eager to move ahead.
It has merged into an indistinct and inactive mass, almost a dead wood though educated. One who knows this characteristic of the high intellectual aristocracy merges (represented by the sound, m), absorbs all the knowledge acquired by the different sectors of this intelligentsia. (11)
The comment, In deep sleep, all waking and all dream experiences disappear is irrelevant in this context. Similarly, the stand that Isvara is the cause of the universe as well as that of its dissolution attempts to endow Isvara with the powers of both Brahma and Siva, two of the three members of the Trinity. This passage does not present such a picture.
The fourth stage is not represented by any alphabet (amatra) and is not connected with any worldly activity (avyavahara). The units of the larger federal society (prapanca) lose their identity by merging (apasama) in it. This stage is called siva and has no duality (advaita). The powers of the highest societal authority are not divided between two personages. He is both executive and judicial power.
Aumkara (as indicated by the three stages of social development, Vaisvanara, Taijasa and Prajna) hence form a vital part of atma, the spirit, which is not constrained by any social body. This atma was described as Brahma. A scholar who knows this feature enters the council of unattached individuals retaining his identity. (12)
THE CONVOCATION ADDRESS
THE WELCOME ADDRESS
AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY
Invoking the Blessings of the Vedic Officials
This Upanishad is attributed to the school of Vaishampayana who seems to have been annoyed with Yajnavalkya. The sages invoked the blessings of Mitra and Varuna, Indra and Brhaspati and (Vishnu who walked with wide steps and was known as) Urukrama. Urukrama known also as Trivikrama (a tall figure who conquered the three worlds) and Vamana (the dwarf) humbled Bali, the asura ruler of Janasthana.
In the later Vedic polity, the two officials designated as Mitra and Varuna acted together to ensure that every one, especially one connected with the administration of the polity, discharged his duties properly. Mitra functioned as the friendly sheriff who endorsed the punitive action taken by Varuna against the delinquents. Indra headed the house of nobles, divam and Brhaspati was in charge of the civil administration of affairs connected with the commonalty, prthvi.
[Indra, Brhaspati, Mitra and Varuna are not to be construed as having been worshipped as Gods by the Vedic society. These were designations of some of the officials of the Vedic polity who were present at the convocation.]
Brahma as the Head of the Constitution Bench
The sages paid their homage to Brahma, the highest official of the judiciary who was the repository of the socio-political constitution, known as Brahma. They also paid their obeisance to Vayu (who was considered to be the official in charge of the scholars who edited the Yajurveda). The head of this school honoured this official (Vayu) who was personally present (pratyaksha) as the representative of Brahma to listen to and approve his discourse.
The teacher informed his students that he would be telling them about Brahma (Atharvaveda), which enshrined this socio-political constitution.
[It is imperative to note that Vishnu and Brahma were not then visualized as members of the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva who have been popularly known as the gods of creation, preservation and destruction.]
The Codes Based on Rta and Satya
Before describing this constitution, he would speak about what the code based on natural laws, Rta, was. Rta dominated the early Vedic thought. It sanctified all actions that were based on this code, which held that every individual had the right to guard himself and his property against those who threatened these. It was based on the theory of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. It led to the glorification of the concept that might is right.
During the later Vedic era this code based on Rta was superseded by the code based on truth, Satya. This new code granted protection to all things and persons actually in existence and ruled out violence against life and property. It stood by the principle that right is might. The teacher offered to expound to his students, the two codes, the one based on Rta and the one based on Satya.
He prayed that he and every other speaker (in that discussion) be protected. He called thrice for peace (santi). (1-1-1)
[The interpretation that this final pronouncement was meant to ward off three obstacles in the way of acquisition of knowledge, arising from ones own self (atma), from other living beings (bhutas) and from cosmic divinities (devatas) is not convincing.]
The teacher offers to expound the science of phonetics. [Phonetics, prosody, grammar, etymology, astrology and kalpa (rituals?) are considered to be the six works auxiliary to the Vedas.] He would explain in the study of the science of phonetics, sound pattern (varna), pitch (svara), quantity (matra), stress (balam), modulation (sama) and combination (santana) (1-2-1).
He prayed that the teacher and the student might both achieve (yasa) the trait and status of a qualified scholar (varchas) versed in the socio-political constitution, Atharvaveda, Brahma.
[The translation, May glory be with us both; may the splendour of Brahma knowledge be with us both does not convey the purpose behind this Upanishad. The translation of the expression, Brahma-varchas, as shine of Vedic wisdom is imprecise.]
The teacher then offered to expound the great anthology (mahasamhita) under five heads pertaining to loka, jyotisha, vidya, praja and atma. The interpretation that these referred to worlds, luminaries, knowledge, progeny and oneself is not to the mark. It is not sound to translate atma as referring to the body.
The Social Worlds, Lokas, and their Junction
The teacher brings under the concept, loka, first the structure of the social world of commonalty (prthvi), then that of the social world of nobility (dyau). Then he deals with the social world of the open areas, akasa which is at the junction of the above two.
Many scholars use the concepts, akasa and antariksham interchangeably. The latter was the society far away at the horizon eluding control by the core society comprising the commonalty and the nobility.
The open areas (akasa), which did not have recognized, organized, settled communities, too were outside the jurisdiction of the core society. Akasa was at the junction of the two societies. The official designated as Vayu ensured that the two were brought together (samdhi). This presents the picture of the classification based on the concept of lokas, social worlds.
[The translation of this verse as, Now with regard to the world: the earth is the prior form (purva-rupam), the heaven the latter form (Uttara-rupam), the ether is their junction, the air is the connection; thus with regard to the world is not satisfactory. The interpretation that the words, earth, heaven and akasa refer to their respective governing deities is untenable.] (1-3-1)
Jyotis, Luminaries, Officials of the Vedic Polity
Dealing with the jyotis, the guides or luminaries, the teacher correlates Agni with the first structure, commonalty, prthvi, and Aditya with the latter structure, nobility, dyau. He correlated Apa with the junction, Akasa, and Vidyut with the link, Vayu.
It is advisable not to put forth the postulate that Agni (fire), Aditya (sun), Apa (water) and Vidyut (lightning) indicated that the ancient Indians were pantheists and worshipped certain aspects of nature.
Agni was the designation of the official who represented the commonalty (prthvi) and functioned as the head of the council (samiti) of scholars (Brahmans), as the envoy of the commoners to the nobles (devas) and as the civil judge. Aditya was the designation of the official who represented the nobles (devas) and headed the administrators and controlled the army (Kshatras).
Apa represented the fluid sections of the larger society, especially the Gandharvas and Apsarases (these were not celestial musicians and danseuses) and Vidyadharas and Charanas, who were free to move among all the three organized social worlds (prthvi, divam and antariksham).
Vidyut represented the highly enlightened sections of the intelligentsia who too moved amongst all social groups whether they were organized or not. They represented the Chakshus, Tapasas, Guhyakas and Siddhas. By the term, Jyoti, the teacher covered all those officials who were guides of the individuals and groups under their charge. (1-3-2). The study of the roles of the jyotis had nothing to do with astrology.
Vidya and Pravacana, Formal and Informal Education
In formal education, Vidya, the teacher, Acarya, is correlated to the commonalty. He taught all those commoners who followed the discipline of the formal school where lessons were taught in open. In the case of the education of the nobles, residential training in private, in confidential matters (antavasi) was recommended.
For both, the study of what was recognized, as an independent discipline of study, Vidya, was common. In the case of those who belonged to the open areas and were constantly on the move, public and extensive discourses and exhortations (pravacana) were the means of spreading education (3).
[The translation, Now as to knowledge: the teacher is the prior form; the pupil is the latter form; knowledge is their junction; instruction is the connection does not bring out the import of the verse. The term, pravacana does not necessarily mean Vedic recitation.]
Prajanana, Accepting New Members as Domiciles, Prajas
The teacher correlates mother to the commonalty prthvi, the first structure, and father to the nobility, dyau, the second structure. He describes the offspring, praja, as having the traits of both parents and correlates the process of procreation, prajanana, to the link between the two parents or social worlds.
In other words, the peoples of the open areas, akasa, who were under the jurisdiction of the Vedic official, Vayu, were treated as having the traits of both social worlds, commonalty and nobility, prthvi and divam.
They could be accepted as praja (though not as natives, jana, of the core society), following the intervention of this influential official, Vayu.
The allegory needs to be solved in a rational manner and not allowed to stand as an inane statement, The mother is the first form; the father is the second form; the progeny is the union and the procreation is the medium. (1-3-4)
Vak and the Role of the Intellectuals of the Core Society
The teacher correlates the lower portion of the face, adhara-hanu, lower jaw which gives one his physical identity, with the commonalty and the upper portion including eyes, brows and brain, uttara-hanu, with the nobility and the mouth between the two with speech, vak.
In other words, he would treat the intellectuals who expressed their views in words as intermediate between the mute commonalty and the reticent nobility, the two strata of the core society.
The teacher treated the tongue (that played an important role in learning phonetics) as arranging the union between the two sections of the core society. He was dealing with atma, the individual who was aware of his identity. (1-3-5)
[The translation, The lower jaw is the first form: the upper jaw is the second form: speech is the union; and the tongue is the medium; thus with regard to the atma, fails to solve out the allegory.]
Brahmavarchas, Eligibility to become a Judge, Brahma
The teacher tells his students that one (a prince who has become his pupil) who knows these great anthologies thus expounded becomes endowed with praja and cattle, that is, the people of the open areas outside the agrarian lands under his direct charge would consent to come under his jurisdiction, as praja.
He would become eligible to function as the highest judicial officer. He would be endowed with Brahmavarchas. He would be offered food by the commonalty and sustained by it. He would also be admitted to the social world of the nobles (svarga loka). (1-3-6)
Admission to Cultural Aristocracy
The teacher prays to Indra to recognize and cheer him as the master of all sciences (medha) and admit him to the aristocracy (amrta) as a noble (deva). He pointed out that the then incumbent to the position of Indra had been honoured in the Vedic chants as Rshabha and Visvarupa and as the leader of the aristocracy. Rshabha was visualized as the official who was to be honoured first and requested to grant permission to approach the ruler for favours.
This official was also known as Sannidhata, Mahanandi and Pracetas. Sannidhata controlled the treasury even as Indra did in the Atharvan polity. When the teacher presented this prayer, Indra had taken over the role of the technocrat who as Visvarupa controlled manufacture of instruments and weapons.
It is necessary to have a correct appreciation of the roles played by the officials designated differently as Visvarupa, Visvesvara and Visvamurti. (Vide Chapter 11 of Bhagavad-Gita) Under the Indra-Brhaspati agreement entered into by the nobles and the commonalty during the later Vedic era, Indra controlled the treasury and the army while Brhaspati controlled the civil polity and the armoury so that the nobles as well as the commoners were kept disarmed.
There was a brief period when neither the post of Visvarupa nor that of Brhaspati who was a civilian authority in charge of the armoury had an incumbent.
The concept of a universal society without erasing the identities of the units was evoked in the picture of Visvarupa. The charismatic and generous chief of the larger society, visva, which covered all sections of the population, was known as Visvesvara.
[The translation, May that Indra who is the greatest in the Vedic hymns, who is of all forms (Visvarupa), who has sprung into being from immortal hymns, may he cheer me with intelligence, O God, may I be the possessor of immortality (amrta) does not take into account the above aspects.]
Expectations of Indra as Student from his Teacher
The student then prays that his body (sarira) should be very vigorous, his tongue should utter only sweet words and his ears should hear a lot. He acknowledges that the teacher has been honoured as a medha, a master of all sciences and robed as a Brahmana, a jurist who had mastered the Atharvaveda or Brahma and was eligible to interpret that constitution. Indra requests that the lesson he had learnt be kept secret. That is, the teacher should not instruct others also on this matter.
The student here was Indra and he indirectly warned the teacher who was a Brahmana like Visvarupa that he would meet the same fate as the Valakhilya technocrat did for teaching the Vrtra Asura also the use of the weapon that he had given Indra earlier. Indra did not want to be let down by the new teacher.
[The second portion of this verse (1-4-1) presents Indras reply to the teachers request that he be admitted to the cultural aristocracy.]
The translation of this portion as: May my body be very vigorous; may my tongue be exceeding sweet; may I hear abundantly with my ears. Thou art the sheath of Brahman, veiled by intelligence; guard for me what I have learned fails to bring out Indras response. This verse is not a mere prayer for acquiring retentiveness and for physical and more health.
The comment that a man who does not possess retentiveness of mind can not acquire the knowledge of Brahman, nor can he who lacks physical vigour or suffers from want of food and clothing indicates that the commentator has failed to recognize that Indra was speaking like a general and liberal noble and as the head of the aristocracy and to his new teacher who was well-versed in all affairs pertaining to the polity including weaponry.
Aid for Establishment of School
The teacher thanked Indra, the chief of the nobility for having recognized him as an eminent teacher (Brahmana) and bestowed on him robes and villages (gam), food and water. He requested Indra to ensure that his wealth of sheep too might increase. His school that was supported by Indra and the nobles might have been located in a cold terrain requiring warm clothes.
The teacher wished that well-equipped and self-restrained and contented students from every direction and of different types should come to him for training. His school was meant for senior students who had already obtained training in the basic studies.
[Though students were normally expected to observe celibacy, the term, Brahmachari, need not be used in such a restricted sense. There is no need to seek to defend the teachers prayer for wealth by citing Vasishtas counsel to Kakutstha (godfather of Rama) that one should seek to acquire wealth, as wealth is the root of the social universe (jagat). Vasishta held the post of Brhaspati in Kosala. Brhaspati was an advocate of materialism, that is, acquisition of wealth.] (1-4-2)
The teacher wished that his mission among the commonalty, native people (jana) should become fruitful (yasa). He wanted to be more renowned than the rich (so that the latter who belonged to the plutocracy might not look down on him and his school).
He prayed to Bhaga (one of the Vedic officials and a member of the Rudra cadre of nobles who was respected by the plutocrats, Yakshas of the other society of the forests and mountains) to allow him to enter his realm (to establish his school). He also requested Bhaga to be associated with his school.
[The translation, Into thee thyself, Gracious Lord, may I enter; do thou thyself, Gracious Lord, enter into me, fails to bring out the implication of this prayer.]
The Rudra School of thought headed by Bhaga provided training in a thousand branches of knowledge. The teacher desired to come in contact with it and get cleared all the imperfections (mrja) in his thinking.
The Teacher enters the Abode of Aditya
The translation, In that self of thine, of a thousand branches, O Gracious Lord, am I cleansed, does not bring out the humility of the teacher. The remark, the different hymns and the gods meant by them are varied expressions of the Divine One is not pertinent to this context. [The remark, the implication is that complete absorption in the Lord frees from all sins is off the mark.]
The teacher prayed to the liberal donor, Dhata, that as waters run downward and months naturally pass into years, the school should grow with more students coming to him from all directions. [Was the teacher connected with the school in the Naishima forest?] (Bhaga and Indra were administrators in the Vedic polity.) The teacher entered the abode of this Aditya and prayed to him to come out and bless him. (1-4-3)
The Four Social Worlds Bhu, Bhuva, Sva and Maha
The teacher says that the three social worlds, this loka (prthvi), antariksham and the other loka (divam) are indicated by the three Vedic utterances, bhu, bhuva and sva and that the significance of maha, the fourth utterance (vyahrti), was made known to all concerned (praveda) by the assistant of mahachamasa, the spokesman of the fourth social world (mahaloka) of sages.
He points out who functions as Brahma, the head of the academy and who is the atma, the individual who is not a member of any social body. He points out who the other officials (devatas) in charge of the different branches of study (angas) are. (1-5-1)
[The translation, Bhu, bhuva and sva are the three utterances of them; that one, the fourth, maha, did the son of mahachamasa make known; that is Brahman, that is the self. Its limbs are the other gods is unsatisfactory. The remark that the term, Brahman indicates the Absolute and that it is the self and that all other gods are subordinate to the Absolute is not pertinent in this context. The remark that the word, Brahman, here means Aum, is off the mark.]
The Four Officials, Agni, Vayu, Aditya, Soma
The poet correlates the three social worlds, bhu, bhuva and sva with the Vedic officials designated as, Agni, Vayu and Aditya (often translated as fire, air and sun). Others have treated Agni, Soma and Indra as the officials representing the commonalty (bhu, prthvi), the frontier society (bhuva, antariksham) and the patriciate (sva, divam).
But this author like many other Upanishadic thinkers presents the open areas, akasa, as identical with the frontier areas, antariksham and makes Vayu instead of Soma represent them. He treats Soma or Chandra as the head of the integrated intelligentsia stationed mainly in areas outside the plains, prthvi. Mahaloka referred to this integrated intelligentsia, the maharshis. It was Chandra or Soma who bestowed greatness on these social guides (jyotis, luminaries). (5-2)
Four Social Worlds and Four Vedas
The poet correlates the three social worlds, bhu, bhuva and sva with the three Vedas, Rg, Sama and Yajur and the fourth social world, maha, with the Atharvaveda which is also known as Brahma. He claims that all the Vedas become great because of the importance of Brahma. He concedes that the intelligentsia of the Mahaloka respects all the four Vedas as Brahma. (1-5-3)
Mahaloka and Anna and Pranas
The poet correlates the three social worlds bhu, bhuva and sva with in-breath (prana), outbreath (apana) and diffused breath (vyana) implying that the influence of the commonalty is restricted to the interior of the core society, that of the frontier society to areas outside the core society and that the influence of the patriciate was spread over all areas.
He considers that the intelligentsia of the mahaloka took care of the basic requirement of all, that is, food (anna).
All the living beings (sarva prana) were helped to attain greatness thereby. The author suggests that the concepts of samana (keeping social balance) and udana (attaining higher social, intellectual and cultural level) are as important as ensuring the care of the commoners of the interior and those kept outside it and helping the influence of the nobility to spread over all areas. (1-5-4).
[The aphorisms have to be explained in a rational manner and not allowed to stand obscure or passed by with inane transliteration.]
The Intellectual and Knowledge of the Sixteen Aspects
The social worlds are four, bhu, bhuva, sva, and maha and each of them is dealt with in each of the four Vedas, Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva, leading to the sixteen aspects or discourses. A scholar who knows all these sixteen aspects is considered to have mastered the Brahma, all the Vedas. All the nobles (deva) accept him as one worthy of being offered tribute (bali). (1-5-5).
[It is not desirable to give the impression that it is the Absolute as Brahman who is being honoured and that all gods offer tribute to him. The interpretation that this section deals with four mystical utterances is irrational.]
Most of the Upanishads were tuned to the social life of the times when the members of the agrarian society showed their respect to the nobles (devas), elders (pitrs) and sages (rshis) by inviting them to the sacrifices, yajna, performed by them. The people of the frontier society who lived on animals and birds however pleased their invitees, the chieftains (devatas), elders (pitrs) and sages (rshis) by offering them bali. Yajna meant voluntary sacrifice and respect for the guests and bali implied coercive extortion and fear against displeasing the invitees.
The New Administrator as a Thinker
Some commentators hold that the fifth section calls for meditation on Brahman through meditation on the subordinate divinities and that the sixth section treats Brahman as the Supreme Deity as Saguna Brahman. It is not sound to treat these two sections as dealing with the methods to be followed while meditating on the Absolute.
The poet-sage tells his student who followed the earlier method of social administration, prachina yoga, that in the new scheme envisaged by the former, the leading personage, purusha, was essentially a thinker (manomaya) and member of the rich nobility (hiranmaya amrta).
He clarifies that this personage was located (stationed) in the open space (akasa) within the core (hrdaya) society and not in the external open space (bhuva), which was under the jurisdiction of the official designated as Vayu. (In other words, the personage referred to was at a level between that of the commonalty and the nobility, the two portions of the core society. But that personage, purusha, was closer to the rich nobility than to the commonalty.)
The official designated as Agni looked after the commonalty (bhu) of the core society. [To use the phraseology of the physiological system of Yoga, the jurisdiction of Indra began from the uvula and rose up to end at the apex of the skull where the roots of the hair lie apart.]
The poet implied that in the earlier system, the cultural and political aristocracy headed by Indra was superior to the wings of the administration headed by Agni and Vayu. (1-6-1)
[The remark that here Brahman, the Supreme, is envisaged as being close to us rather than as being remote is not relevant. It is also not sound to conclude that here we find a transition from the view that the heart is the seat of the soul to the other view that the brain is its seat. This verse does not identify Brahma as Purusha. Commentators point out that the sage was dwelling on the concept of Sushumna Nadi of the Yoga system that passes upward from the heart through the mid region of the throat to the apex of the skull.
At the apex the two parts of the head are separated and the nadi goes up, leading to the view that is the point of exit of the soul on death. Allegories have to be resolved in a rational manner. The sage was not teaching the discipline of Yoga though he was using the concepts developed by that discipline.]
Brahmana, Head of the Intelligentsia and Happiness, Ananda
The teacher pointed out that the authority to supervise the commonalty (bhu, prthvi) was vested in the Vedic official designated as Agni, and the external open space (bhuva, akasa and antariksham) in Vayu, and the autonomous (svarajyam) cultural and political aristocracy (sva, divam) in Aditya and the intelligentsia (maha) in the jurist and advocate of the Atharvaveda, Brahmana. The latter is hailed as the head (pati) of those engaged in thinking (manas), observing (chakshu), listening (srotra) and knowing more from what is known (vijnana).
The teacher explains that this high official of the judiciary, Brahma, is not a member of any social body and that he belongs to the open areas of the society (akasa) and that he is an individual (atma) following the code based on truth (satya). He leads a life of rest and is happy (ananda) in thought, is peaceful (santi) and has all the wealth needed (samrddhi).
In other words, the highest judicial officer is expected to lead a satisfied life. The teacher does not expect him to be restless and needy. He told the student who adhered to the earlier system of administration that the new one advocated by him would ensure self-rule for the cultural aristocracy (sva) and install in position a contented intelligentsia (maha) headed by Brahman. (1-6-2)
[The remark, This passage brings out that the end is greater existence, not death; we should not sterilize our roots and dry up the wells of life and that we have to seize and transmute the gifts we possess, fails to bring out the import.]
Adhibhutam, Adhyatmam and the Five-Fold Analysis
The teacher then enumerates the concepts and aspects that he proposed to bring under five-fold analysis. The commonalty (prthvi), the frontier society (antariksham), the patriciate (dyau), the people in the (four) directions (provinces) (disa) and the people in the intermediate directions (districts) (antara disa) are the five sectors of the population. Agni, Vayu, Aditya, Chandra and Nakshatra are the designations of the five officials connected with the governance of these five organized sectors.
The fluid (apa) sections of the society, individuals who are experts in medicinal herbs (aushadi) and live in moors and inaccessible areas, sections whose life is dependent on forest plants and trees (vanaspati), individuals who are socially insignificant and live in open areas (akasa) and the individuals who are not members of any social group (atma) are brought under the group, adhibhuta, the essential individual of the social periphery.
[The translation of this passage as: Earth, atmosphere, heaven, heaven, the main quarters and the intermediate quarters; fire, air, sun, moon and stars; water, plants, trees, ether and the bodyThus with regard to material existence fails to bring out the implications of this five-fold social analysis. The interpretation that this chapter teaches the contemplation of Brahman through the symbol of the panktas or sets of five objects and that the universe consisting of a set of five objects and that Brahman manifested as the universe is a pankta is unwarranted.]
In the case of the essential individuals, adhyatma, of the (organized) society, the teacher traces five types, prana, vyana, apana, udana and samana, those who deserve to belong to the core society, those who spread the essential orientations throughout the society, those who deserve to be kept out, those who deserve to rise up in social ladder and those who maintain social stability and evenness. These five sections are correlated to the functions of the five different organs. (Seeing, hearing, thinking, speaking and touching).
The human body is divided five-fold, skin, flesh, muscle, bone and marrow. The sage pointed out that this fivefold analysis when followed would help one to gain five benefits, that is, control over all the five sectors of the larger society, agro-pastoral commonalty, frontier society, patriciate, the four regions and the intermediate districts. (1-7). The teacher was counselling Indra.
Importance of Chanting the Syllable, Aum
The teacher then urges his students to give due attention and importance while chanting the syllable, aum and while performing rituals whichever Veda they may be following. This syllable represented all the Vedas known as Brahma. It called upon the priest and his host to comply with the directives implied in the chants and formulae and the procedure specified while making prayers and responding to the answers to those prayers. This syllable may be uttered at the beginning or during or at the end of a ritual involving homage to Agni, the civil judge who had jurisdiction over the commonalty.
[It is irrational to presume that the people of the Vedic times worshipped aspects of nature like fire, wind, water and rain, Agni, Vayu and Varuna and Parjanya.]
The utterance of this syllable entitles the Brahmana, the scholar who had mastered the Atharvaveda in particular to pray for and attain the status of Brahma, the highest officer of the judiciary who was entitled to interpret the socio-political constitution that was applicable to all the social worlds and all the social universes and all individuals. (1-8).
[The remark that Aum is the symbol of both Brahman and Isvara, is not relevant in this context. It is too simplistic to claim that this chapter urges all to meditate or contemplate on aum.]
The Disciplines of Study and the Prospectus of the Academy
The teacher brings to the attention of the students the different disciplines that they would be introduced to and which they were expected to master through further self-study (sva-adhyaya) so that they might deliver discourses to others and propagate (pravacana) them.
These studies covered the laws based on nature (rta) that were in vogue during the early and middle Vedic era, and the laws based on truth (satya) that came into force during the later Vedic era, endeavour and exertion (tapas) at discovering hidden knowledge and new means, self-control (dama), and maintaining equanimity (sama). [It may be borne in mind that the code based on Dharma had not yet come into force when most of the Upanishads were expounded.]
They had to learn the performance of the role of a representative of the commoners (Agni) and settling disputes among them in ones capacity as a judge at court proceedings (Agnihotra, commonly understood as a form of sacrifice), hospitality (atithaya), supervising the conduct of the commoners who were organized as clans and communities and abided by the codes of their respective communities (manusham), the training of the individuals newly brought under the ambit of the social polity (as prajas), the procedure by which new members are added to the society (prajana) and the orientation of the groups and communities (prajati) who are admitted to the social polity of the janapada.
[It may be remarked here that the terms, learning and teaching do not bring out adequately and precisely the implications of the terms, sva-adhyaya, and pravacana. It is also imprecise to translate the terms, manusham, as humanity or as social duties, and the terms, praja, prajana and prajati, as offspring, act of procreation and propagation of race.]
The students were being told what they had to learn by themselves after they left the campus to take over their positions in the administration.
The teacher was placing before his students who were being trained to assume onerous social duties a variety of disciplines that they had to master. But some of these students preferred to master only specific fields.
Satyavachas (one who always spoke the truth) of the line of Rathitara was so called because he preferred to master the codes based on truth (satya). The son of Paurusishti was called Taponitya (one devoted to tapas), as he preferred to be engaged in meditating and discovering new methods (tapas). Naka (painless), the son of Mudgala found these fields tough and would only be an academician, studying (sva-adhyaya) and giving discourses (pravacana). He treated these two functions themselves as equivalent to tapas. (1-9)
Trisanku and his Claim
The teacher then drew their attention to the claim put forth by Trisanku while reciting a Rgvedic hymn. Trisanku claimed arrogantly that he could move (disturb) a tree and that his fame was high like the peak of a mountain. His high status made him pure like the steeds (Vaji) used by nobles (sva-amrtam), that is, he was indeed a noble (deva) and that he was endowed with (sa-varchas) wealth (dravya) and the traits of a good intellectual (sumedha) and that his status as a noble would never weaken (akshita).The teacher disapproved such arrogance especially in a follower of the Vedas.
[The interpretation that This statement is an expression of self-realization when the self feeling its identity with the Supreme, says that he is the mover, the impeller of this world-tree of samsara is unacceptable.]
Trisanku belonged to the counter-intelligentsia and not to the positive intelligentsia that was noted for humility and self-denial. Even Visvamitra could not save him from clinging precariously to a mountain cliff in the abyss he was cast. Paisaca is a term used to indicate such an intellectual who haunts trees and vacant places.
[The claim that this mantra is meant for daily recitation by the seeker of Self-knowledge and is conducive to purity and progress and leads finally to knowledge of Brahman does not carry conviction. Vamadeva could not have endorsed this claim.] (1-10)
Satyam Vada, Dharmam Cara
After teaching his student the Vedas formally, the teacher gave him the following instruction. [This has been rightly honoured as an ideal convocation address.] The student is directed to speak the truth (satyam vada). [It requires moral courage to always speak the truth and at all costs and to speak only the truth.] He was warned against violating the civil laws, which were based on truth, that is, which gave credence to the evidence given by one who always spoke the truth and was conscientious. The graduate is advised to go along the path indicated by the code based on dharma, righteousness (dharmam chara).
[The translation, practise virtue is not precise. It is not sound to state that the suggestion here is that one ought to live according to the law of ones being. It was only under the laws of nature, Rta or Svabhava that such permission was given during the early and middle Vedic times.]
Rta was supplemented by the code based on Satya during the later Vedic times. The concept of Dharma that came into force by the end of the Vedic times required the individual to abide by what the society considered to be the righteous way of life.
He is advised not to treat self-study (sva-adhyaya) as unimportant and as a direction that could be ignored (ma pramada).
When the student voluntarily offered fees (wealth, dravya) to his teacher at the conclusion of the course of formal education when he was allowed to study more by himself, the teacher advised him not to treat the relation of father and son that had developed between them as having come to an end and cut off. (Do not cut off the thread of offspring, praja.)
He advised the student not to ignore the importance of the code based on truth (satya) or that based on righteousness (dharma). [The sages who composed the Upanishads treated satya and dharma as equally important and refused to distinguish between the two.] The pupil was perhaps a prince who would in all probability proceed to take over his duties as a social administrator.
Instruction to the Prince on Graduation
The teacher exhorts the prince who on completion of his studies was leaving his academy not to neglect the welfare (kusala) of his (new) subjects (praja). He should not ignore the economic interests of the individuals (bhuti).
The commoners who belonged to the organized clans and communities looked after themselves. But groups and individuals, who had consented newly to come under his rule, as prajas had to be attended to for ensuring their welfare and facile means of livelihood. The interests of the bhutas or individuals of the social periphery needed his special attention.
The social administrator (which the graduate would become) should not neglect self-study (svadhyaya) and delivering discourses (pravacana) for educating the people at large. The prince who is graduating from the royal academy is advised not to ignore his duties (karya) to devas (members of the house of nobles, sabha) and to pitrs (members of the council of elders, samiti). The princes, rajanyas, were subordinate to the nobles, devas. (1-11-1)
The translation of this exhortation as: Speak the truth. Practise virtue. Let there be no neglect of your (daily) reading. Having brought to the teacher the wealth that is pleasing (to him), do not cut off the thread of the offspring. Let there be no neglect of truth. Let there be no neglect of virtue. Let there be no neglect of welfare. Let there be no neglect of prosperity. Let there be no neglect of study and teaching. Let there be no neglect of the duties to the gods and teachers fails to underline the fact that the academy had students who would join on graduation any one of the three classes, teachers, administrators and bourgeoisie, later known as Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas. The exhortation was meant for all the three sections.
Instruction to the Graduates
The famous counsel asking the graduate to be one who treats ones mother, father and teacher as equivalent to a deva follows the above directive. Matr devo bhava, pitr devo bhava, acharya devo bhava. Similarly one is exhorted to treat the guest too as equivalent to a noble. Atithi devo bhava He was expected to abide by their wishes.
This injunction is often translated as: Treat your mother as God; treat your father as God; treat your teacher as God; treat your guest as God. Some claim that this injunction asks us to treat the mother as more worshipful than the father.
The commentators of the medieval times had failed to note that by the time the Upanishads were compiled, the Vedic social structure and social relations had already been eroded.
The Vedic society required the householders who were engaged in economic activities to contribute to the maintenance of the three cadres, nobles (devas), sages (rshis) and elders (pitrs or pitaras) who were not engaged in productive economic activities.
By the end of the long Vedic era, the cadres of nobles and sages had withered away and only the memory of those cadres continued to grip the minds of the commoners and poets. They were later visualized as denizens of another world high up in the sky enjoying a life without material wants.
During the Vedic times, all social, cultural, economic and political activities had to be performed in the presence of the nobles, sages and elders and be approved by them.
Else those deeds would stand unapproved and liable to be struck down as anti-social activities.
With the withering away of the Vedic cadres of nobles and sages, it was directed that the parents and the family teachers take over the places of the nobles (devas) and Vedic officials respectively.
The new social orientation too called for the presence of an external witness lest the decisions arrived at within the family circle should for any reason prove later to be unsustainable.
The guest was such a witness who would be a valid substitute for the respected member of the aristocracy who earlier condescended to be present and witness the deed. The class of Brahman priests came into the picture as successors to the Vedic cadre of sages only later.
The teacher advised the graduates that they might practise (sevita) any vocation (karma) that was faultless and non-blamable (anavadya). He had not given them vocational education. He had only trained them how to follow any vocation perfectly and usefully.
He advised them not to follow the vocations other than what he had enumerated as approved ones. In other words they were not to follow the vocations that were practised in the society other than the one to which they belonged. He exhorted the graduate to follow the good practices (sucharita) that were prevalent in the family of his parents and in that of his teacher.
[The remark that the student should follow the teachers example only with regard to those deeds which are not contrary to the scriptures and which accord with the practice of the wise cannot be objected to. But this remark is not warranted as the teacher was not raising that issue.]
The graduate was advised not to follow the customs that were prevalent among others (itara). This is in tune with the advice (given by Krshna) that one should follow ones svadharma and shun paradharma (1-11-2).
This academy was open to members of the agro-pastoral core society who were mostly contented and followed their traditional vocations. It did not entertain students from the industrial society of the forests and mountains whose populace was known as itara-jana, other people. The teacher did not want his students to imitate the ways of life of these materialistic people.
The Prince and the Members of the Judiciary, Brahmanas
The teacher advised the prince (as the latter left his school on completion of his formal education to take over his duties as a social and political administrator) that the Brahmanas, scholars and members of the judiciary who were superior to this head of the royal academy and teacher of socio-political conduct (of the prince and his companions) should be given appropriate seats lest they should be annoyed.
[The translation, You should comfort those Brahmans who are superior to us by giving them seats, fails to bring out the import of the counsel.]
The prince was advised that the gifts that he wanted to give them should be given with dedication (sraddha) and not without dedication. He should give them wealth in plenty and with modesty, fear and sympathy. [He should dread to antagonize them though they were poor.]
At the convocation these scholars were present. The teacher advised the prince to honour them and help them with wealth as a token of gratitude to them. The teacher himself was an Acarya. Neither he nor the teachers pointed out by him were members of the sacerdotal class. This class emerged only long after the Upanishadic times. (1-11-3)
The Teacher on How to Overcome Dilemmas
The head of the royal academy told the prince that if during the performance of his duties he faced a dilemma regarding his duty (karma) or politico-economic action (vrtta), he should in such matters conduct himself like the Brahmanas (who were his counsellors and were then present there).
Those Brahmanas were competent to be judges (sammarsina) and had gained the necessary qualifications and training (yukta) and been duly appointed to their positions (ayukta). They were not amateurs or unsophisticated (aluksha) in their conduct as judges. [The teacher was advising the prince to maintain decorum and finesse while carrying out his duties.] He should conduct himself as a lover of dharma even as the Brahmanas, the trained and competent judges did.
It is necessary to probe whether the socio-political system that was based on Rta had provided for an independent and impartial judiciary. It is likely that the officials designated as Varuna, Mitra and Yama were in the fore when the ruling elite had the traits of the authoritarian asuras rather than those of the liberal devas.
When the socio-political and economic systems came under the codes that upheld truth, satya, Agni and Brhaspati who belonged to the commonalty and were heads of the civil courts came to the fore. As Dharmasastra came into force a trained judiciary that was superior to the political executive came to the fore.
[The translation, You should behave yourself in such matters of doubt regarding any deed or conduct, as the Brahmanas there (who are) competent to judge, devoted (to good deeds), not led by others, not harsh, lovers of virtue would behave in such cases, fails to bring out the purport of the counsel accurately. The claim that the Brahmanas have spontaneity of consciousness, which expresses itself in love for all beings, is unwarranted.] (1-11-4)
The Command to the New Trained Ruler
The teacher advises the prince who may after his graduation be required to deal with persons who were not performing their duties as they ought to and were reported to be wayward (reported against), to deal with them too in the same objective and gentle manner as the competent Brahman judges who followed the code based on the principles of dharma did. (1-11-5).
The teacher was for the prince proving to be a gentle, competent and just ruler. He did not deprive the political executive of the right to use force to restrain and punish the deviants though he asked the prince to be both gentle and just.
As the parting instruction, he said,
This is the public direction (adesa); this is the personal counsel (upadesa); this is the secret counsel (upanishad) (as culled from the Vedas). This is the discipline that you have to follow in administration (anusasanam); you should honour and follow this instruction; you have to follow this procedure. (6)
A Note on Other Comments
The translation, this is the command; this is the teaching; this is the secret doctrine in the Veda; this is the instruction; thus should one worship; thus indeed should one worship fails to highlight the fact that the student in this context was a prince and was being trained in a royal academy to become a Rajarshi.
Attempting to provide the gist of the first part, the annotator notes that at the outset, certain contemplations, which are not in conflict with ritualistic action, are described. Next is described the contemplation of the vyahrti, which is the symbol of the Brahman with attributes (Saguna). The annotator adds that this leads to self-rule but does not completely destroy ignorance, which is the seed of samsara. It may be seen that the present study has not been able to accept this interpretation.
The claim that the eleventh chapter prescribes action laid down in the Vedas and the Smrtis for the purification of the aspirants heart, without which Self-knowledge is impossible does not take into account the factor that the teacher was addressing a prince who had graduated from the academy. He would assume the position of a ruler. The debate engaged in by commentators of medieval times and also of modern times on the reference to doubts about karma in (1-11-4) has tended to divert the attention away from the main intent of the direction given by the teacher.
The remark that the word, karma or work denotes any activity including social service and religious rites may not be disputed. But it does not necessarily require the doer to be aware of the distinction between himself as the doer and the instrument and the fruit of action.
The comment, After the realization of oneness with the Brahman (Supreme) a man can work without being conscious of the distinction and such work is not in conflict with the Highest Good is not relevant to the counsel given by the teacher to his student, a prince. It is not necessary to discuss issues pertaining to the four values of life, dharma, artha, kama and moksha, and to the relations between pursuit of jnana, knowledge, (of the Supreme or of Self) and action (karma).
The Vedic Officials to be Honoured
The first section of this Upanishad ends with a prayer addressed by the teacher and his students of the royal academy to the Vedic officials. Mitra, Varuna, Aryama, Indra and Brhaspati were requested to be propitious, to the former. The academy was connected with a state that had a judiciary dominated by the two independent officials, Mitra and Varuna and with which Aryama, the representative of the free citizens, especially of the respected bourgeoisie, was associated.
The core social polity had two administrative bodies headed by Indra and Brhaspati, looking after the interests of the governing aristocracy (sabha, devas) and the commonalty (prthvi, manushyas) respectively. This polity was under the guidance of Vishnu who was known also as Urukrama, Vamana, Trivikrama and Upendra. Vishnu too is addressed in this prayer. This royal academy must have come into existence at the instance of Sakra Indra, Brhaspati (who belonged to the school of Angirasa) and Urukrama (who humbled the feudal warlord, Bali and his guide, Usanas).
Brahma and Brahmavadi, Jurist and the Ideologue
The teacher and his students pay their respects to the socio-political constitution, Brahma (Vedas in general and especially Atharvaveda) and to Vayu, the Vedic official in charge of the open society, akasa, especially of the frontier society, antariksham.
Then they pay their respects to Brahma, the chairman of the constitution bench, who was personally present (pratyaksha) at the convocation to grant approval to the graduates of the royal academy. They paid their respects also to the personage who too was personally present and was known as a Brahmavadi, an ideologue-cum-activist of the school of Atharvaveda. The teacher reported to them that he had trained his students in accordance with their expectations and requirements.
Rta and Satya Bind the Teacher and the Pupil
The academy had admitted princes and others who were eager to learn the code based on dharma. This code was not to be deemed to have superseded the earlier Vedic codes based on the principles of Rta and Satya. The teacher clarified that he had taught his students the laws based on Rta and those based on Satya.
[The laws based on Rta permitted every one to pursue a course of action that was in tune with his nature and that was best suited to his interests and permitted him to ensure them with all might. This law of nature, Rta, based on the concept of struggle for survival and survival of the fittest was in vogue during the early and middle Vedic times and continued to be in force in the later Vedic era when the laws based on Satya, truth, as advocated by the Atharvan school of Brhaspati came into force.]
The student submitted that the provisions of these laws governed him and the teacher too submitted that they governed him too.
[The transliteration of this passage as, I have spoken of the right (Rta). I have spoken of the true (Satya). That has protected me; That has protected the speaker (teacher); Aye, that has protected me, that has protected the teacher, fails to bring out the claim regarding the benefit accruing from the course of education in that academy.] The prayer ends with the chant, Aum, santi, santi, santi, to indicate approval to the convocation. (1-12)
Brahmananda, the Bliss of the Brahman Judge
The second part of the Taittiriya Upanishad begins with the famous invocation to the Brahman to protect them both (that is, the teacher and his student). He is requested to be pleased with both and to give them the vigour to work together. The two pray that the study may make them both become tejasvinis, enlightened and enlightening persons. They pray that there be no dislike between the two. Any two colleagues may chant this invocation, not necessarily the teacher and the student. They may chant it for any good purpose.
A scholar who knows the contents of the Veda, especially the Atharvaveda that is known as Brahma, reaches the highest position (param). About this claim, it has been said:
He who knows Brahma (the socio-political constitution) as one based on the principle of truth, satya, as comprising all that is known, jnana, and as eternal, ananta, and as deposited safely (nihita) in the secluded caves (guha) and as being in the highest sky (parama vyoma) realizes all desires.
The teacher implies that this constitution is applicable to all peoples, whether at the lowest level or at the highest level of the large society. The scholar who recognizes the above features of and benefits from following the socio-political constitution is in the company of the Brahmana, the jurist who discerns all correctly.
[The translation of this passage as: The knower of Brahman reaches the Supreme. As to this it has been said: He who knows Brahman as the real, as knowledge and as the infinite, placed in the secret place of the heart and in the highest heaven realizes all desires along with Brahman, the intelligent, is not to the mark.]
The Different Vedic Officials and Social Sectors
The concept of an individual who is not attached to any social body (atma) and who occupied the position of the highest judge and guardian of the socio-political constitution, as Brahmana, leads to the concept of the open society, akasa (often translated as ether). From the concept, akasa arises the concept, vayu, the official who was in charge of the open areas and the frontier society. The concept, vayu, leads to the concept, agni, who was the Vedic official heading the organized commonalty. The concept, agni, leads to the (opposite) concept, apa, which referred to the fluid society. [This society on the riverbanks and islands had Varuna as its spokesman. He was a high judicial officer who could take into custody all those who failed to discharge their duties.]
The concept, apa, (water that is needed for irrigation) leads to the (opposite) concept, prthvi, the cultivated agrarian lands inhabited by commoners, manushyas, over whom agni had jurisdiction. The concept of cultivated lands, prthvi, leads to the (opposite) concept, the uncultivated moors that yield herbal plants (aushadi). The concept, aushadi, leads to the essential requisite for survival of the species, (anna). The concept, food (anna) leads to the concept, the social leader (purusha) who makes it available for all. Describing this as the course of evolution is imprecise.
THE STATUETTES OF THE PURUSHA
The importance of Food
The teacher presents the social leader, purusha, as consisting of the essence of food (anna-rasa-maya). He draws the attention of his audience to the statuette (a la the effigy of the Purusha described in the famous hymn, Purusha-sukta), to its head, its southern side, its northern side, its heart (atma) in the centre and to its lower portion and the pedestal on which it was placed.
He would not describe the head as signifying the class of Brahmans, the two arms as the class of Kshatriyas, or relate the central heart to the ruler, and the lower portion to the class of Vaisyas and Shudras. (2-1)
[The note that it is an axiom of mystic religion that there is a correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm and that man is an image of the created universe and that the individual soul as the microcosm has affinities with every rung of the ladder which reaches from earth to heaven, is not relevant to the theme of this passage. Similarly the claim that meditation (upasana), which is not in conflict with rituals has been described in this passage is not convincing.]
The teacher points out that the concept of food (anna) [the fulfilment of the need for food in order to survive, to be precise] has led to the emergence (prajayanta) of the class of prajas who dwell (and enjoy) in the agrarian plains (prthvi). They live (jivanti) by food alone. [In other words, they do not have any other goal than bare survival.] On death they pass into it, that is, into the earth that has produced the grains.
[It may be noted here that the translation, From food are produced whatsoever creatures dwell on the earth; moreover, by food alone they live; and then also into it they pass at the end, fails to highlight the importance of the agricultural economy that the commonalty, prthvi, depends on.]
Among the discrete individuals (bhutas), especially of the social periphery, the foremost concern (jyeshta) is the securing of food (anna).
[The translation food, verily, is the eldest born of beings is too simplistic to bring out the stand of the teacher.] Hence catering to the food needs of the individuals is the panacea for all socio-economic ills, the teacher counsels.
The Domiciles, Prajas, and Agrarian Economy
He was addressing his students of the state academy on their graduation. He calls upon his trainees to recognise, honour and follow (upasa) the socio-political constitution, Brahma, as a code that gives the highest priority to agriculture and the concept of food for all. All those who have become subjects (praja) of the janapada, a rural native province of the agrarian terrain known as prthvi, are called upon to keep in mind this objective of the constitution and be loyal to it.
The other sections of the populace (of the periphery) may have other goals and may not be willing to be engaged in a self-sufficient agricultural economy.
The concepts, Jana, Praja and Bhuta
The pursuit of this vocation, agriculture, and this objective, securing food thereby, converts the discrete individuals, the bhutas of the social periphery who are absorbed in the core society as natives of the soil, jana. They are (people) who are born (jayanta) in the prthvi (the expanded janapada) and are not merely subjects (prajas) accepted as domiciles (prajayanta). When they become natives engaged in agrarian economy, they rise in social ladder.
[The translation, from food are beings born; when born they grow up by food, fails to bring out the prospect that the social constitution offered to the individuals in the periphery who were then still associated with the feudal lords (asuras) who claimed that they were senior (jyeshta) to the liberal nobles (devas).]
The socio-political constitution, Brahma, recommended by Urukrama and the Brahmavadis gave priority to the rehabilitation of the alienated sections of the commonalty.
Food for Livelihood and Prana and the stable society, Prthvi
The teacher explains that food is called annam as it eats (bhutas, discrete elements in the soil) and is also eaten (by discrete individuals). The concept of atma (the individual not associated with a social body) is related to the concept of prana, the absorption of select traits that have their origin in the socio-physical environment.
It is different from and also distant from the concept, anna-rasa-maya, that is, the essence (rasa) of the agrarian economy (production of food-grains). This latter concept, anna-rasa-maya food for livelihood is filled by the concept of prana, life as determined by the environment.
The teacher was required to explain the intrinsic relationship between the concept food for livelihood that was top in the concerns of the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the periphery as they came under the parasol of the agrarian society (prthvi) and became its primary members (jana) rather than be its subordinate subjects as but domiciles (prajas) and the concept, prana, which was essentially common orientation as determined by the socio-physical environment which every individual, atma, lives in.
The teacher says that the individual, atma, who is the product of his environment and is superior to the discrete individual, bhuta, who needs to produce food for survival, is visualized in the form of a purusha (man) with a head, two arms, chest and lower body, as a statuette on a pedestal.
Prana as head, vyana and apana as two sides, Akasa as torso, prthvi as pedestal
The second statuette of a purusha (man) has in-breath (prana) for its head, diffused breath and out-breath (vyana and apana) as the two sides, right and left (dakshina and uttara). In this statuette, the torso is equated with akasa the open space as atma that has no body. This purusha has the agrarian earth, prthvi, for its pedestal. The stable organized society may be described as a purusha. [It seems that the teacher identified the equalizing mechanism, samana with akasa.] (2-2)
[The reference to the concept of anna-maya-kosa, as the sheath of the vital breath is not called for. Matter and life, is not a convincing title for this passage. The transliteration, This has the form of a person. According to that one's personal form is this one with the form of a person; the in-breath is its head; the diffused breath the right side; the out-breath the left side; ether the body, the earth the lower part, the foundation does not bring out the meaning of the allegory.]
Purusha-sukta, the RgVedic hymn, is not the only one that presents the picture of Purusha. The other statuettes brought out other interpretations of the larger society.
Nobles, Devas, as Living Beings
The nobles lead a life on the same lines as the other living beings (pranam deva anu prananti) that are at the bare subsistence level; so too, the commoners (manushyas) and animals (pasu). In other words, it is not sound to treat the nobles as a class of immortals not requiring food and other essential needs of life. The aspect of bare existence, breathing (prana) is what characterizes the life (ayu) of the individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery.
[The translation, The gods breathe along with life breath, as also men and beings; the breath is the life of beings, fails to bring out this meaning.]
Prana is hence described as the life (ayu) of all (sarva).
It is not sound to treat the needs of the nobles (devas) as being different from those of the other living beings whether they are organized sections of the commonalty (manushyas) engaged in economic activities as workers or are cattle (pasu) used in those activities or those persons who are at the level of bare existence (pranis) or the discrete individuals of the social periphery (bhutas).
The translation, The gods breathe along with life breath, as also men and beasts; the breath is the life of beings, of all is too simplistic. The teacher was giving valuable counsel to the graduates who were about to leave the academy to join their positions in social administration.
The Secure and Independent Individual
Those scholars who recognize that the individuals (bhutas) of the periphery are entitled to advantages implicit in the term life (ayu) and should be treated as living beings (at the bare subsistence level, prani) follow (upasa) this postulate and objective of the socio-political constitution, Brahma. Therefore they treat prana (breath, in common parlance) as implying the need that ensures for all entire span of life (ayu).
[The translation, Those who worship the prana as Brahman obtain a full life; for the prana is the life of creatures; therefore it is called the life of all falls short of the mark.] The living being (prani) for whom life (ayu) has been ensured by making available food (mentioned in the previous verse) is an individual (atma) and member of a social body (sarira).
The Independent Thinker
There is another individual (atma) who is essentially the mind (mana) that thinks. He is different from the individual (atma) member of a social group who but lives, though he is within that group and yet retains his identity unlike a commoner, manushya, who has no identity apart from that of his group, clan or community.
In other words, in every social group there are a few individuals who may be termed as thinkers though most whether they lead the life of nobles or of workers or are at the level of bare existence or are individuals of the social periphery are satisfied with living by securing their material needs. This concept is presented in the aphorism, tenaisha purna, by that it is filled. It is referred to as manomayakosa. This concept too is presented in the form of a purusha.
Yajurveda as head, Rgveda and Samaveda as sides, Adesa as torso, Atharvaveda as the pedestal
The head of this statuette of a Purusha as a thinker (mind) is correlated to Yajurveda, the right side to Rgveda, the left side to Samaveda.
The instruction (adesa), which the teacher has given at the convocation of the royal academy, is likened to the individual, atma, who retains his identity and forms the trunk of that statuette which stands on the pedestal of Atharvaveda (comprising the hymns edited by the followers of Atharvacharya and Angiras). Thus the teacher, a thinker who follows the Yajurveda, presents the importance of Atharvaveda as a code providing the base for the social polity (2-3).
The comment, Prana originally meant breath and as breath seemed to be the life of man, prana became the life principle; on analogy, it was said to be the life of the universe does not bring out the theme of this passage. The view that adesa refers to the Brahmana section of the Vedas is unacceptable.
The interpretation that the hymns that were revealed to Atharva and Angiras are called the support, because they treat mostly of the rites, which promote mans well being, by giving him peace and strength is unsound. It only attempts to assert that the contents of Atharvaveda are materialistic and not spiritual like those of the other three Vedas.
The Happiness of the Brahmana, Jurist
The scholar who is happy (ananda) with his position as a Brahmana, that is, as a member of the highest judiciary that interprets the constitution described primarily in the Atharvaveda and also in the other three Vedas, does not on any occasion fear that he would fail to arrive at the proper finding.
The thinker (manas) does not return from the perusal of what is said (vak) in the Vedas without finding a solution to the enigma that faces him. He can be happy only if he is able to give an impartial and correct verdict that would be gentle and kind to all concerned including him.
[The translation, Whence words return along with the mind, not attaining it, he knows that bliss of Brahman fears not at any time, fails to bring out the above note. The comment that the Upanishad asks the student to contemplate Brahman as limited by the upadhi, or conditioning adjunct of the mind is unwarranted mysticism.]
Sraddha as head, Rta and Satya as sides, Yoga as torso, Mahaloka, the Social World of Legislators as the Pedestal
As in the previous verses, the teacher presents the image of a Purusha and correlates the concept, dedication (sraddha) with its head, the code based on natural laws, Rta, to its right side and the code based on principles of truth, Satya to its left side. He correlates Yoga, the science of endeavour, to its trunk, atma, the individual who though living in the society stays uninfluenced by it and retains his identity.
[It is not correct to translate the term, yoga, as contemplation. Similarly it is wrong to translate the term, Rta, as the right and the term, Satya, as the true.]
This statuette of the purusha, the Vedic social polity, stands on the pedestal, the social world of legislators known as Mahaloka. (4)
[The translation of the term, maha as the great one and the interpretation, It is the principle of Mahat, the first thing evolved out of the non-manifested (avyakrta) which is described as lying beyond the mahat, are not in tune with the approach of this teacher of the royal academy. The explanation that Being projected as the first cosmic principle, Hiranya-garbha, mahat is the cause of all that are created after it and that therefore it is called the support, the tail (puccham) is unacceptable.]
The teacher would advise his student of the royal academy not to waver from what the legislators had pronounced. (2-4)
Importance of Vijnanam
Vijnanam, the knowledge that one obtains by extrapolation of the knowledge (jnanam) that he has already acquired through formal training in the different disciplines of study, belittles the importance of the rites connected with sacrifices, yajna, and also of the ritualistic duties, karma, that one has to perform.
[One who has acquired the knowledge that is not known already does not deem yajnas and other rites as of any worth.]
All the nobles (devas), especially the eldest of them who occupies the position of Brahma, the head of the constitution bench, honour this knowledge (vijnanam) acquired through dialectical methods to be greater than the sacrificial rites and other prescribed duties.
[The translation of this passage as, Understanding (vijnanam) directs (tanuta) the sacrifice and it directs the deeds also; all the gods (devas) worship as the eldest (jyeshta) the Brahman which is understanding , fails to bring out its purport. Similarly the translation, The intellect accomplishes the sacrifice; it also accomplishes all actions; all the gods worship the intellect who is the eldest, as Brahman i.e. Hiranyagarbha goes off the mark.]
If one knows that the contents of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, have to be understood by application of the dialectical methods as in knowing the not yet known (vijnana) by extrapolating the knowledge (jnana) that is already available of the present and the past, he does not ignore it (pramada) as of no importance.
He does not swerve from its directives. He will leave behind the sins he has committed while functioning as a member of his (social) body (sarira) and will get all his cherished objectives (kama) fulfilled.
The Purusha Imagery and the Concept of Ananda
The importance of the concept behind the purusha as envisaged in the previous passage that dealt with the concept of dedication (sraddha), the codes based on Rta and Satya and the principle of yoga and the role of the legislators (maha) as the base for the new social order is covered under this concept of Brahma, the knowledge of the unknown (vijnana) even as the soul (atma) is covered by the body (sarira).
[The translation, This (life) is, indeed, the embodied soul of the former (mental), is not to the mark. The explanation that the five concepts, material, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual are five sheaths (pancha-kosa) needs to be put across effectively without resort to mysticism.]
In the previous imagery of the purusha, the teacher invoked the concepts of dedication (sraddha), rta, satya, yoga and mahat. He stressed the importance of thinking (manas).
As in that case, here he stresses the value of acquiring further knowledge (vijnana). The individual (atma) who retains his identity despite being in his social group is able to experience happiness (ananda) as a jurist (Brahma) giving a verdict that would be just to all when he adopts dialectical methods to know (vijnana) what have not been known to him as but a thinker.
The statuette in the shape of a purusha that represents this bliss has kindness (priya) for its head. The gentle and kind judge experiences personal delight (moda) while performing his duty and enjoys with all (unrestrained delight, pramoda). Moda and pramoda are the two sides, right and left of the happy social leader (purusha).
The learned judge who is even-handed and kind to all is not an unsocial thinker. He is a happy extrovert. Happiness (ananda) is visualized as the identifying feature trunk (atma) of this statuette.
[The translation, Pleasure is its head; delight the right side; great delight the left side; bliss the body; Brahman, the lower part, the foundation fails to bring out the traits, light and delight, of the truly happy intellectual.]
The pedestal on which it is seated is correlated to the socio-political constitution, Brahma or Atharvaveda, which brought together all sectors of the larger society while recognizing the need of every one to guard his identity. (2-5)
The comment, In ananda, the attempt to con-naturalize man with the supreme succeeds. Intelligence is successful in controlling the tangible world. As a rational instrument in the sphere of positive sciences, its validity is justified. This attempt of the intellect to unify is not due to intellect alone is unexceptionable.
But the conclusion that the validity is derived from the breath of the divine is not a rational one. The claim that in ananda, earth touches heaven and is sanctified is an unwarranted attempt at mystifying what is social, happiness of all through genuine kindness even while basing ones judgement on the constitution that is based on consensus.
The claim that the Brahma-sutra identifies ananda-maya with the absolute Brahman and not a relative manifestation needs to be presented in a rational manner.
Brahma, Satya and Rta
If a scholar holds the position (veda) that the socio-political constitution, Brahma, is not the same as the code based on truth, satya, he becomes a follower of the earlier code based on laws of nature, rta.
The two codes differed in that the earlier code based on rta was indulgent to what the latter austere code based on satya considered as objectionable.
The socio-political constitution based on consensus was for compromise that would delight all including the judge. In other words, it did not yield to the theory that might is right nor did it advocate enforcing right through might. This code, Brahma, was realistic (asti, existent) in approach rather than idealistic. A judge who follows this approach is known to be a gentle and pious person (santam).
[The transliteration, Non-existent, verily does one become, if he knows Brahman as non-being; if one knows that Brahman is, such a one people know as existent, fails to adopt dialectical methods to arrive at a synthesis of the two antagonistic positions.] This gives us the picture of an individual who though a member of a social body (sarira) retains his identity (atma) like the happy judge, Brahman, mentioned in the previous passage.
This position leads to the questions, Does one who is not a scholar (avidvan) reach that social world (loka) after his death? Does one who is a scholar (vidvan) get absorbed (samasnuta) in that social world (loka) after his death (pretya)?
The teacher was drawing attention to the undesirability of nominating an avidvan, a person who was not acquainted with the constitution, Brahma or Atharvaveda, to the cadre of judges only because he had given up worldly interests.
He asks whether any scholar who has joined that judiciary and given it a pleasant colour rather than that of a horrifying executioner has done so only after getting disillusioned with the world of reality.
The teacher was, it needs to be remembered, addressing his students of the royal academy when they were about to leave it as graduates and proceed to take over their duties as Kshatras, administrators. He advises them to be realistic.
[The interpretation that the teacher was required to answer the pupils doubts, Since Brahman is the Self of both the enlightened and the unenlightened, being the same in all, do the unenlightened attain the world of Brahman after death or do they not? Do the enlightened attain to the world of Brahman after death or not? fails to recognize what was meant by the expression that loka.]
The Many Shapes and the Code based on Satya, Truth
As he desired to find a solution to the above questions, the teacher had to assume the positions of the many shapes of the multitude and that of its newly admitted member (praja).
[The translation, He (the Supreme Soul) desired: may I be many, may I be born fails to bring out the purport of the dialogue between the teacher and the pupils at the valedictory session. It is not sound to state that the Supreme Soul (God) gave the answer to their doubts.]
The teacher had taken pains (tapas) to prepare the statuettes (srja) to explain his views. He had to exert again, be engaged in tapas and make them, and enter into them as it were to give those statuettes (of purusha) animation.
The spectators could witness both the manifest features (nirukta) of the statuette of the purusha and the non-manifest but innate traits (anirukta) of the personage that it represented. They could also witness how the statuettes stood stable (nilaya) when placed on their pedestals and became unstable when removed from the pedestal (anilaya) concerned. He dealt with what constituted rational knowledge (vijnanam) and what was not such rational knowledge (avijnanam). [Both ignorance and blind adherence to what has been conveyed as knowledge are covered by avijnanam.]
The teacher had to explain what was meant as the code based on truth, satya, and how it differed from the actions that departed from the (earlier) code based on natural tendency, rta. This was necessary to show how all the concepts developed and presented in the form of the statuettes were in tune with the code based on satya (that prevailed during the later Vedic epoch). The scholars considered the outline he had presented as true, as being based on satya (6).
[It is not sound to present the Supreme as the creator of the varied forms of beings. The translation, He performed austerity (tapas); having performed austerity he created all this, whatever is here; having created it, he entered into it; having entered it, he became both the actual (sat) and the beyond (tyat), the defined (nirukta) and the undefined (anirukta), both the founded (nilaya) and the unfounded (anilaya), the intelligent (vijnana) and the non-intelligent (avijnana), the true (satya) and the untrue (anrta). As the real, he became whatever is here; that is what they call real, fails to bring out the process of dialectical methods adopted to answer the doubts raised. The commentator was not on sound grounds when he remarked, as we bend nature to our will by thought or tapas, tapas becomes mixed with magical control.]
The Constructive and Impartial Judiciary
Earlier this (idam) social cadre (of constructive intelligentsia and judiciary) was not in existence (asat). From the earlier undifferentiated multitude it was (later) produced or formed (ajayata) as a separate cadre. That cadre formed (akuruta) by itself into a cadre with its own identity (atmanam). Since it was not a structure brought into existence by any external agency, it was said that it was created properly (sukrta).
[The explanation, The manifested universe is called sat and its non-manifested condition is said to be asat; the manifestation of names and forms took place later is not relevant here.]
The trait that makes that cadre to be formed well is its essence (rasa). On partaking that essence a member of that cadre becomes blissful, one experiencing ananda.
The teacher points out that unless the open space (akasa) which has no human settlements enables one to subsist (by bare breathing, prana) as any animal (prani) does, it cannot offer the bliss (ananda) that the impartial jurist and intellectual needs.
His presence there is necessary to give directions to its insignificant individuals (prani) at the subsistence level. The teacher points out that it is open space that is favourable to life but is not under any organized social group, which alone can offer bliss, ananda, to an intellectual.
[The translation, Who could direct the prana if this bliss (Brahman) did not exist in the akasa (of the heart)? Brahman verily exists because It alone bestows bliss, is off the mark. The remark that this passage affirms that no one can live or breathe, if there were not this bliss of existence as the very ether in which we dwell and that we have here a feeble analogue of spiritual bliss in aesthetic satisfaction, is an attempt at self-deception on failure to solve the enigma.]
When an intellectual is established (pratishtha) in an orientation that is not manifest or visible (adrshta), has no physical identity (anatma), is undefined (anirukta) and is unstable (anilaya) and does not evoke fear (abhaya), he reaches the stage of fearlessness.
The teacher holds that any objective which is precise and which does not offer leeway prevents the intellectual from arriving at a fearless and impartial judgement when he is called upon to interpret the socio-political constitution much of which is unwritten and has to be deduced through dialectical methods from hypothetical posers and solutions. (7)
[The translation, When a man finds fearless support in That which is invisible, incorporeal, indefinable and unsupported, he is then fearless advises the reader to have faith in God and not to be afraid. The intent of this passage is not so trite.]
The teacher cautions that if one leaves a slight gap in the abdominal (stitch), that is, if the bust (of the purusha) is not strongly established on its pedestal he becomes afraid. In other words, the intellectual will not be able then to stand erect as he performs his role as an officer of the judiciary. The scholar who is not a thinker has to dread while giving his verdict as an impartial and unwavering judge.
[The interpretation, Brahman is the cause of fearlessness for the wise; for the ignorant the same Brahman becomes the cause of fear; if on account of ignorance a person differentiates his inner self from Brahman by so much as the fraction of a hair, his very self proves a source of fear to him is far from the caution given to the scholar about the risk involved in performing the role of an officer of the judiciary.]
Brahma, the Jurist and Five Officials of the Vedic Polity
That unwavering intellectual who occupied the highest position in the social polity as Brahma, the interpreter of the Atharvaveda or Brahma that incorporated the socio-political constitution of the Vedic times and presided over the constitution-bench as the supreme judge instilled fear in the minds of all the officials.
The five officials, Vayu (Vata), Surya, Agni, Indra and Mrtyu functioned under his supervision and dreaded to default in their functions, the teacher pointed out to his students.
Vayu, Indra and Mrtyu were in charge of the open terrains (akasa) including the frontier society (antariksham), the patriciate (divam) and the commoners (manushyas) respectively. Surya controlled the army and the administrative machinery (Kshatras) and Agni guided the intelligentsia (Brahmans). They and the sectors under their respective jurisdiction had to function along the lines prescribed in the constitution.