PIPPALADA ON THE PURUSHA CONSTITUTION
The Unsolved Questions
Pippalada, a revered sage who had his seat under a fig-tree, was asked by six of his students to explain to them every thing about the concept, ‘Param Brahma’ (the Great God, in common parlance). They were asked to study for one more year before he answered their questions. He needed time. These questions and answers have to be studied in their appropriate socio-political background and not merely as issues pertaining to abstract and abstruse metaphysics.
Pippalada and Kabandhi
From what are ‘Prajas’ Born
Kabandhi, ‘son’ of Katya, wanted to know from what all those ‘prajas’ were born (1-3). Kabandhi might have been a colleague of ‘Katyayana’, the famous economist and jurist of Kosala and counsellor of its ruler, Dasaratha. (Kautilya’s economic system was drawn partially from Katyayana’s works. Vide my earlier work, Foundations of Hindu Economic State). Katyayana’s sister had married Yajnavalkya, the great Upanishadic scholar-cum legislator, who was patronized by the Janaka of Videha. Rama, son of Dasaratha, married Sita, daughter of this Janaka.
Kabandha was a political strategist but had fled to the forests fearing punishment for an offence against the state. He had a soft corner for Rama, a protégé of Raghu, and yet was killed by Rama. Before his death, Kabandha advised Rama to enter into a treaty with Sugriva, the estranged brother of Vali, and with his help retrieve Sita from her abductor, Ravana. Kabandhi’s question implied: “What are the conditions to be fulfilled by one to enable him to become a ‘praja’, a citizen or subject of a state?” He was an exile. The answers however are not so patently political.
‘Brahma’ is often referred to as ‘Prajapati’, the chief of the people, ‘Prajas’. In common parlance, ‘praja’ denotes the offspring and ‘prajapati’ the father. Pippalada posits that one who seeks to be a ‘prajapati’ must first have desire (kama) to have ‘prajas’. Before we examine the implications of this postulate, it would be useful to note the modifications that Kautilya effected in the definitions of the concepts, ‘bhumi’ and ‘prthvi’.
‘Bhumi’ means ‘land’ and ‘prthvi’ means ‘inhabited land’. The former is a geographic concept and the latter a demographic concept. ‘Artha’ denotes two aspects, economic activities (vrtti) and inhabited land (prthvi). It is not concerned with the non-economic activities of men, like meditation and quest for truth. The science of Arthasastra covers all economic activities, whether of the core society or of the frontier society. All men were governed by the Kautilyan definition of the term, ‘manushyas’.
Earlier, the science of economic occupations, Varta, as outlined by Brhaspati, covered only the occupations of agriculture, animal husbandry and trade. These were the ones, which the commoners, manushyas, of the core society followed. It did not cover the forest, river, maritime and industrial economies which were under the jurisdiction of the frontier society, antariksham. Kautilyan Arthasastra integrated the two economies.
Kabandhi was interested in expanding the jurisdiction of the state and making the ‘frontier men’, the dwellers of the forests and mountains its subjects (prajas). His question and Pippalada’s answer (couched in an allegory) have to be viewed in this light.
Prana and Rayi
Pippalada says (1-4) that one who aspires to the status of a Prajapati has to first be engaged in severe endeavour (tapas) and produce the two (mithunam), prana and rayi, which together form different classes (bahudha) of ‘prajas’. [Pippalada could not have dallied with concepts like the compositions of the chromosomes.] Some would identify these two with Purusha and Prakrti, the two primordials (of which neither is anterior to the other). Some would term these as soul and body, atma and sarira, or with the breath that sustains life and the matter that constitutes the body.
[Commentators who confine their concerns to abstruse metaphysics, theology and mysticism do not attempt to delve into other aspects of Kabandhi’s query.] The sage told Kabandhi who was a ‘materialist’ that the Prajapati held sway not only over the lives (prana) of his subjects but also over their property (rayi).
Does this imply that this chief has no control over the persons who have no property but reside in his region? Do such persons, for example, the monks, enjoy the status of ‘prajas’? Are they eligible for protection by the state? In my work on Foundations of Hindu Economic State, a treatise based on Kautilyan Arthasastra, I have drawn attention to the provisions of the Vaivasvata constitution. It held that those persons who did not pay taxes could not expect protection by the state and that they could not exercise political franchise. This applied to the dwellers of the forests also. They were then being brought under the jurisdiction of the integrated janapada, the expanded state.
These issues were implicit in Kabandhi’s question. (He had been exiled from Kosala when he was killed by Rama who himself was then an exile.)
Aditya and Chandra
Pippalada would compare ‘prana’, the life-sustaining breath to Aditya (sun) and ‘rayi’, the matter that go to constitute man’s possessions including his body to Chandra (moon).
[Some have interpreted that according to Pippalada as the sun has heat and influences all objects and is vital for all life and vegetation and as the moon lacks this heat, ‘prana’ is more important than ‘rayi’. This interpretation is weak.]
In the neo-Vedic social polity, Aditya represented the ruling class of cultural aristocracy and Chandra (Soma) represented the sober intelligentsia of the larger society. Protection of the lives (prana) of the citizens was more important than protection of their property (rayi). Pippalada does not underestimate the importance of material possessions (5).
‘Rayi’ is not totally equivalent to ‘matter’. It covers not only those traits, which can be given a physical shape (murti) but also those traits that cannot be given a shape (amurtam). But ordinarily, only those objects, which have a shape, have been brought under the concept, ‘murti’.
Personal traits (gunas, svabhavas) (by which all living beings and even inanimate objects are imbued) and merits and demerits (punya and papa), (which are theoretical and theological values) are covered by the concept, ‘rayi’. So too, the human body and its sensory organs are covered by it. These traits are brought under the concept, ‘amurtam’, and the actual physical possessions including the body under the concept, ‘murtam’. [Implicit in this is the stand that human traits have their origin in the human body.]
But Pippalada would concern himself only with the concrete aspects of ‘rayi’, that is, with ‘murtam’ and not with the abstract ones, ‘amurtam’. In other words, Pippalada’s Prajapati would have jurisdiction only over the material possessions of his subjects, prajas.
The sage does not visualize Prajapati as an authority exercising control over man’s innate traits and aptitudes and over the deeds determined by these. Does he imply that the Prajapati does not determine man’s destiny and that man’s own nature determines it? This issue is not relevant here.
The sun (Aditya) after rising enters the eastern side and its rays illumine all the lives (prana) on that side. Then it illumines all the lives on all the sides, south, west and north, above and below. The sage implies that Aditya, an official belonging to the patriciate, brightened the lives not only of that class but also of those associated with the other directions (1-6).
As he does so, he performs the role of Vaisva-nara, the free man (nara) who represents the wills of all the members of the larger society, Visva. The concept of the structure and form of this larger society, Visvarupa, treats this official, Aditya as a free man (nara) representing and sustaining all living beings, all sectors of human beings, (pranas).
Aditya, as Vaisva-nara, plays a role similar to that of Agni, who represented and protected the interests of the commoners (prthvi, manushyas) of the core society. [Both belonged to the class of nobles (devas).] Pippalada claims that this concept was declared in a verse of the Rgveda. [This claim might have been an interpolation.]
Pippalada then draws attention to the concept of Vishnu the dark-coloured figure, Hari, as Visva-rupa. Aditya (Surya) was conceived as a scholar who knew everything even when he was born, Jatavedas, and the external goal towards which every one was expected to proceed (parayana). (Jatavedas was thus not a term used to signify Agni only.) Like the sun (though) with a thousand rays and Visvarupa with hundreds of appearances, he was the lone figure who had acquired immense internal heat (tapa). Vaisva-nara rises as the spirit (prana) or representative of all the subjects (prajas). (1-7,8) The sage was answering the question how the concept ‘praja’ emanated.
The Upanishad then compares the role of the Prajapati to the two portions of the year, dakshinayana and uttarayana, when the sun appears to go towards the south and to return northwards.
Those persons who worship the chiefs of the frontier society and perform rites with the intent to get their prayers (ishta) fulfilled (purti) by them reach the status, the social cadre (loka) of the sober intelligentsia who follow Chandra (Soma). [It is wrong to translate this as ‘human world’.] Those persons who reach that level certainly return to their earlier level (of commoners).
Therefore the sages (rshis) who are desirous (kama) of ‘prajas’ resort to the southern path. [It is not sound to interpret that the sages went to the southern regions in order to marry women there and procreate children on them.] The sages wanted to bring the people there under the jurisdiction of organized states. This southern path taken by the elders (pitrs) was connected with their innate traits and physical possessions (rayi). It was partially motivated by desire for wealth.
[It is advisable not to translate the term, ‘pitrs, as implying ‘the souls of the deceased ancestors’. They were elders who had retired to their forest abodes with minimum paraphernalia.] (1-9)
But those persons who seek personally a higher status, approach Aditya the representative of the patriciate who is in charge of administration of the state and protection of the members of the core society. They resort to rigorous endeavour (tapas), go through the stage of formal education as ‘brahmacharis’, are dedicated to their causes (sraddha) and seek training in the recognized disciplines of study (vidya).
These are the ways by which the living beings (pranas) are kept in check (herded to their pens, even as cattle are). They are under the jurisdiction of the cultural aristocracy (denoted by the traits, ‘amrtam’ and ‘abhayam’, immune and secure).
These commoners who seek social ascent go towards this other social world (para-ayanam). Persons who are admitted to its ranks do not (need to) return to the commonalty. This would be an end to their movements (nirodha) (1-10).
[The interpretation that ‘nirodha’ meant ‘end of rebirth’ is not acceptable. The remark, “conventional piety and altruism are distinguished from ethical and spiritual development” is irrelevant here.]
In this connection, Pippalada draws attention to the verse that distinguished between the two social worlds that the commoners could reach, that of the nobles and that of the experienced elders. The patriciate (divam) of the other society (para) is faulted for its adhesion to desires (ishinam). The ‘pitara’, the retired elder who went to the forests of the south was said to be one who had taken five steps (pancha-pada) and as having twelve ‘forms’.
[The interpretation that these refer to the five seasons, spring, summer, rains, autumn and winter and the twelve months does not seem to fit the context. So also the explanation that time is the father of all things does not carry conviction. A philosophical treatise with five steps and twelve volumes might have described the elder (pitara) as seeking the patronage of the wealthy of the other society].
The expounders of the school followed by Pippalada advocated admission of suitable commoners to the cultural aristocracy headed by Aditya who was visualized as driving a chariot with seven wheels and six spokes. [The larger polity had seven organs, angas or prakrtis, and adopted the six-fold policy in its inter-state relations.] (1-11)
The sage correlates the (lunar) month with the Prajapati. The dark fortnight is compared to ‘rayi’ and the bright fortnight to ‘prana’. In other words, the seeking of wealth and fulfilment of desires associated with those travelling southwards is ‘dark’ and not approved while the seeking of knowledge and association with the cultural aristocracy is ‘white’ and is recommended. Therefore the sages (rshis)perform the rites for fulfilment of desirable objectives during the ‘white’ period, that is, in open. Others who belong to the frontier society (itara) perform such rites in secret (the dark fortnight) (1-12).
The chief of the people, Prajapati, does not keep out either group. He treats day and night, rayi and prana, both material possessions and lives, as eligible for protection. The Prajapati disapproves sexual intercourse during the day and approves the one during the night as being within the discipline prescribed for students. (1-13)
The Prajapati deems food (anna) as a requisite for a healthy life and secretion of semen and impregnation of the woman and birth of children. This metaphor implies that the chief of the people who seeks to bring more groups of people under his aegis should ensure that they obtained the basic necessities of life (14).
Thus those persons who observe the code of celibacy during the day and intercourse during the night produce two offspring, boy and girl. Only such persons who have fulfilled their duties to their families were eligible to join the academy of higher learning (Brahma-loka).
They are said to have fulfilled the duties prescribed under the code of tapas, brahmacharya and satya, rigorous endeavour in the performance of their objectives and duties, pursuit of knowledge and adherence to principles of truth. The Brahma-loka mentioned above trained scholars for positions in the highest judiciary. Those who were after worldly pursuits (rayi) were not eligible for admission to this academy (1-15).
Pippalada says that a place in that faultless, sober (viraja) academy of high learning (Brahma-loka) was open only to one who was not crooked and was not functioning against the humanitarian laws based on ‘rta’ and was not given to deception. He was briefing Kabandhi on how one could become a member of the austere community of Virajas who came to the fore during the tenure of Manu Surya Savarni. [This Manu was on the scene when Rama trekked southwards in search of his wife, Sita, who had been abducted by Ravana.] Kabandhi must have met Pippalada during that decade.
The interpretation that what is not against the humanitarian laws based on nature (rta) is identical with the laws based on truth, satya, is followed. (1-16)
Bhargava and Pippalada
Prajapati and the Larger Society
Next, Bhargava of Vidarbha wanted to know how many nobles (devas) supported and illumined the subjects (prajas) and who among them was the senior-most (varishta) (2-1).
It was a period when the concept, dharma, had yet to come into use as a code that supported (vidharaya) all the people of the larger society. The ruling class included the liberal nobles (devas) who protected the subjects of the state and the intellectuals who guided (by educating and dispelling the ignorance of) the commoners. This question pertained to the socio-political constitution of the later Vedic era.
The then traditional stand was that the nobles were thirty-three in numbers and were drawn from the four cadres, Vasus, Adityas, Maruts and Rudras. Viraj was the highest among them and Prajapati ranked next to him in status, followed by Aditi, the mother figure. Aditi guided the eight officials known as Adityas (among whom Indra was the senior-most).
But by the end of the Vedic era, some described Prajapati as the highest authority and Mahendra as being next to him. Bhargava wondered what stand Pippalada took on this issue and whether he did not agree that Viraj was the highest authority. (‘Viraj’ was later identified with Vishnu and ‘Prajapati’ with Brahma.)
Pippalada, belonged to the new Upanishadic school which had reservations about the structure of the Atharvan polity that placed Indra and Agni as the officials heading the house of nobles (sabha, divam) and the council of commoners and scholars (samiti, prthvi). He dealt with a larger society that placed Aditya in charge of the ruling elite and Soma in charge of the intelligentsia.
Bhargava, who belonged to the school of Bhrgu, the chief editor of Manava Dharmasastra, wanted to know how this scheme helped to support and enlighten the lives of the subjects of the expanded state.
[It is not to be presumed that all Bhargavas thought alike. Bhargava Usanas encouraged autocracy while Bhargava Parasurama fought against autocracy. Bhrgu was a moderate.]
Pippalada said that the open areas, ‘akasa’ (or ‘antariksham’), under which the expanded social polity came to be formed had the nobles (devas), designated as Vayu, Agni, Apa, Prthvi and the four officials of the organs performing the roles of speech, thinking, observing and hearing (vak, manas, chakshu and srotra) on its executive. They provided the limits on the sides (avashthabhya), supported from the bottom (vidharaya) and central post (bana). The sage had asked his students to visualize the top of the tent where they sat as ‘akasa’ (2-2).
Pippalada said that the representative of all the people (prana, living being), especially those who were at the level of bare survival, asked these officials not to cherish delusion (that they were the real supporters of life). It was ‘prana’ which was divided into five parts (in-breath, out-breath, diffused breath, equalizing breath and upward breath, prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana) that supported life (2-3).
Those officials who had specific duties did not accept the claim of ‘prana’ to the status of the senior-most (varishta) functionary. But they soon realized that they had to function along the lines that this representative of the larger open society took.
The different organs of the state were bound to function in its interest and as desired by it. [This aspect is indicated in the imagery that Pippalada evoked of the upward, downward and other movements of ‘prana’ as if it were a ‘king bee’ and the other bees following it.]
The sage told Bhargava and other students that ‘prana’, the senior-most functionary as the representative of the people comprising the five sections, performed the roles that were performed by the officials designated as Agni, Surya, Parjanya, Vayu and Prthvi and by the patriciate. Agni had called upon the intelligentsia to be engaged in rigorous exertion (tapas) (to find out the unknown and to create new things and methods).
Surya (Aditya) was in charge of protecting the community and of administration of the polity. Parjanya (rain, in common parlance) was in charge of liberal aid that would increase the production of crops and meet the basic need of all, ‘anna’. [‘Parjanya’ was correlated to ‘Apa’ (water).]
‘Vayu’ was in charge of all groups that were constantly on the move. The official designated as ‘prthvi’ looked after the physical possessions of the commoners and had direct liaison with the cultural aristocracy (amrtam, divam) and pursuit of activities that fell within the framework of the laws based on truth (sat) and those that did not do so (asat).
As the spokes of a chariot-wheel are established (pratishthita) in the hub, all the officials performing different functions are connected with ‘prana’, the representative of all sections of the larger society. [We depart from the translation, ‘established in life (prana).]
All those who follow and teach the three Vedas (Rg, Yajur and Sama), the state, that is, the administrative and military structure (kshatram) and the judiciary (brahmam) are required to function in consonance with the will of this larger society, ‘prana’.
Translation of the terms, kshatram and brahmam, as valour and wisdom, is imprecise.
‘Brahma’ referred to the fourth Veda, Atharvaveda. Pippalada implied that the different sections of the population who were educated and were acquainted with the three Vedas and the executive and the judiciary were all expected to honour and abide by the will or ethos of the society as indicated by the term, ‘prana’, even as the officials had to. (2-4, 5, 6)
The Prajapati, the chief of the people, is compared to the father whose seed moves about in the womb of the mother and brings forth the son who is a replica of the father.
Pippalada implies that it is the chief of the people, Prajapati who moulds the members of the larger society whom he comes across, to accept and follow his directives and become new subjects (prajas) of the polity with traits similar to those of the earlier members including those of the Prajapati.
Pippalada addressing ‘prana’, the representative of the wills of all the sections of the larger society, says that these (new) subjects (prajas) brought to him offerings (bali) in his capacity as inbreath (prana), one of the five aspects of breath (prana). Pippalada was placing before him the model of a society that affiliated new groups and assimilated new outlooks, including those of the frontier society and the feudal system, which thrived on compulsory levy (bali) rather than on voluntary sacrifice (yajna).
[Pippalada might have been briefing a member of the school of Bhargava Usanas. Usanas was the political counsellor of the warlord, Bali, and Vamana exiled him along with Bali. Bali was stationed in Janasthana in the Narmada valley. Vidarbha was a province south of it.] (2-7)
Prajapati and Prana
The Prajapati is the chief of the people of the larger society and represents the will of all its sections and is hence called their ‘prana’. He is the main conveyor of the offerings of the subjects (prajas) of this larger society to the nobles (devas) who constituted its ruling elite. They paid their first respect to the elders (pitrs) and the next to the sages (rshis) who followed the laws based on truth (satya). The codes based on ‘dharma’ had not yet come into force then.
The earlier laws based on nature (rta) had not developed the scheme and practice of honouring the three non-economic classes, nobles, sages and elders (devas, rshis and pitrs). Pippalada tells his students that the sages mentioned by him were followers of Atharvaveda (edited by Atharvan and Angirasa) (8).
He explains that the official designated as ‘Prana’ (who represented the will of the people and headed them as Prajapati) played the roles that were performed earlier by the two officials designated as Indra and Rudra. (In the new social polity, these two officials gave way to Aditya and Soma who like Indra and Rudra of the Atharvn times represented the urban patriciate, divam, and the intellectuals of the frontier society, antariksham respectively.)
Indra was known for his high demeanour (tejas) indicating that he was a cultured and civilized person. Rudra was known for the protection (parirakshita) he gave his subjects. The troops under Rudra were stationed in the forests surrounding the agro-pastoral plains and the towns.
The Prajapati who brought more sections of the population under the enlarged society as its subjects (prajas) moved about in the third social world (antariksham) of forests and mountains as its protector and guide (Surya, Aditya). He was the head of the cadre of jyotis, the illuminators who showed the correct path to all. (2-9)
Pippalada lauds the liberal Prajapati who functioned as both Indra and Rudra, the chiefs of the nobility (divam) and the frontier society (antariksham) as one who delights all the living beings (prana), subjects (prajas) by providing them all, their basic requirement, namely, food (anna). Their desires would be fulfilled. (2-10)
Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva
Pippalada was honouring the famous Vratya Prajapati who reorganized the society and its state institutions during the later Atharvan era, in his capacity as the spokesman of the different sections of the larger society. The Vratya Prajapati was hailed as Mahadeva. He was a Rudra. He circumambulated the entire subcontinent as a lone sage (ekarshi).
All groups including the kings welcomed him as their honoured guest and he won the confidence of the entire larger society (visva). He was the real sovereign (satpati) whom the kings (rajanyas), the commonalty (vis) and all the state organizations, house of nobles (sabha), council of scholars (samiti), army (sena) and civil polity (prthvi) and controller of treasury (sura) obeyed.
The Vratya Prajapati, a charismatic figure representing the will of all the sections of the society as its ‘prana’ (life, in common parlance) introduced a system by which the people (prajas) became the donors (data) of what others needed to survive by. He was honoured as the ‘father’ (pita) and was known as ‘Matarisva’ (a name of Siva who disrupted the sacrifice that Bhrgu was conducting on behalf of Daksha Prajapati). [It is also reported that Vivasvan (Surya) had sent Matarisva to help the Bhrgus in their sacrifice.]
Pippalada was pointing out to Bhargava who claimed to be a descendant of Bhrgu that the Prajapati of his vision was a highly charismatic figure like the Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva. [The Vratyas led an austere life and were noted for their self-denial. They had not accepted the sacramental rites proclaimed by Bhrgu, the chief editor of Manava Dharmasastra. They were later condemned as heretics. It is evasion to translate the term, ‘vratya’, as ‘ever pure’.] (2-11)
Pippalada appeals to the Vratya Prajapati who was often visualized in the form of Siva not to go away without fulfilling the prayers of his followers. This picture of Siva had become a permanent and respected feature (an idol, pratishthita) in writings, pictorial art and in music (vak, chakshu, srotra).
Later editors had treated Samkara, Mahadeva, Matarisva, Rudra and Siva as belonging to the same group of social thinkers and still later they were treated as the name of the same god Siva. It is imprecise to interpret the term, ‘Matarisva’ as implying Vayu, wind, in common parlance. As the next verse indicates it meant a mother who had adopted the children concerned as her sons (2-12).
All the living beings (prana) of this larger society function under the directions given by the three sections of nobility (tri-diva): the cultural aristocracy (devas) of the core society, the plutocrats (devatas) of the frontier society and the technocrats and other intellectuals, the intellectual aristocracy of the larger society.
[It is unsound to interpret that ‘tridiva’ meant Trinity, later identified as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.]
The sage appeals to the Vratya Prajapati to protect them all even as a mother (mata) protects her children and give them wealth (sri) and wisdom (prajna) (2-13). [The comment that it is the Prajapati, or the Creator, who manifests himself as the macrocosmic and microcosmic ‘prana’, is a futile attempt to read mystic metaphysics in a social issue.]
Kausalya and Pippalada
Prana, the Will of the People
Then Kausalya, son of Asvala, asked Pippalada to explain to him whence this ‘prana’ is ‘born’ and how it ‘divided’ its functions and got established (pratishthita). He wanted to know also how it leaves the body and how it supports what is external (bahya) and what relates to the essential self (adhyatma). Pippalada pointed out that Kausalya was asking questions pertaining to functions not ordinarily perceived by the commoners (atiprasna).
He agreed to answer them because he noticed that Kausalya was deeply devoted to ‘Brahma’, that is, was committed to learning the intricacies of the provisions of the socio-political constitution (Brahma or Atharvaveda). A jurist would like to know from where the chief of the people who also represented the will of all the sections of the people (prana) got that authority.
The Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva, was a charismatic figure who had the inner urge and resolution to circumambulate the entire subcontinent and meet the local people along with their spokesman and also had respect for the method of consensus that enabled him to recommend the formation of small new nation-states all over the country. Kausalya wanted to know whether Pippalada recommended this procedure adopted by the Vratya Prajapati.
The process of representing the will of others
He wanted to know how the individual who was a member of a social body acquired the right to independent will and transferred to the Prajapati, the right to represent it. His question also meant how the sovereign power that was vested in the Prajapati as Prana by all the sections of the larger society was distributed among the different officials and subordinate bodies.
Kausalya, probably a scholar and political ideologue from Kosala, also wanted to know whether there was any provision about when the tenure of the Prajapati who had charismatic as well as rational legitimacy would come to an end.
How did the chief of the people of a given state acquire the right to admit new members from abroad and wield sway over them? How would the Prajapati deal with the person who refused to part with the right to determine his destiny to any one else and remained an essential individual (adhyatma) unbound to any social body including his sector? (3-1,2)
Prana, the will of the individual, has its source in the individual with an identity of his own (atma). It is like the shadow of a man, especially of one in the position of a leader (purusha). Unless there is an individual with his own identity there can be no will of that individual (to be represented by the Prajapati).
Unless there is a follower, there is no leader, purusha. The follower shares the orientations that his leader has. Even as the presence of that man (purusha) is necessary for casting the shadow and that person is more important than his shadow, the individual is more important than the chief who claims to represent the will (prana) of that individual.
That will which has been delegated to the chief of the people came into the social body (sarira) of which that individual is a member through his ability to think (manas) independently of that body and creatively (krta).
Pippalada was explaining how an individual could have a separate identity though he had to function within a social body and thereby have a will of his own. [The comment, “A person’s life in this body is the appropriate result of his activities in the previous existence” is totally irrelevant.] Pippalada was dealing with the issue of the emergence of the independent will of the individual. (3-3)
A sovereign (samrat) who holds sway over a wide territory sends missives directing his authorized (subordinate) officials to be present and perform certain duties with respect to the different villages. The latter officials were autonomous and were the inhabitants of those villages and exercised limited sovereignty.
Similarly, the Prajapati, functioning as Prana, the representative of the general will of all the sections of the larger society installs (adhitishtha) as his receiver of tributes (sannidhata), the different representatives of the wills of the local people of the other society (itara) who have joined that larger society.
[The translation of this verse as, “As a sovereign commands his officers, saying, you superintend such and such villages’, even so does this life allot the other vital breaths to their respective places,” indicates the failure to grasp the significance of this verse.]
Pippalada was explaining to Kausalya that he did not intend to deprive the local representatives of the people of their right to do so while recognizing them as the authorized representatives of the overlord. (3-4)
The roles of the five breaths, apana, prana, samana, vyana and udana, out-breath, in-breath, equalizing breath, diffusing breath and upward breath, are correlated to the functions of the different organs of the human body. The functions of the organs of excretion are compared to out-breath (apana), and those of the eyes, ears, mouth and nose to in-breath (prana). In the middle is the digestive system, which provides food for all organs and maintains balance. It is compared to the equalizing breath (samana).
The ‘soul’ (atma) is located in the heart which pumps blood to all parts of the body through the hundreds and thousands of large and small arteries. The role of the heart and the arteries is compared to that of the diffusing breath (vyana). Vyana moves through the arteries. Udana rises upwards and if this breath leaves the body through the apex of the skull man is deemed to have died.
The sage says that through performance of noble acts (punya) one is led to the social world (loka) of those who are known as blessed people (punya-jana), who are free from social liabilities and exempt from state control. [Gandharvas, Apsarases, Vidyadharas, Charanas, Chakshus, Siddhas and Guhyas were such cadres of intellectuals who were known as punya-jana, blessed people, and were exempt both from social control and state control.]
Those persons who are guilty of sins have to go to the world of sinners (penitentiary and prison, naraka). Those persons who have both merits and demerits stay back in the social world of the commoners (manushya-loka). (3-5,6,7)
Pippalada was explaining to Kausalya the features of the social polity of the larger society that he envisaged. The policy of rejection of unwanted elements and admission and assimilation of new elements from all areas and through all desirable methods is followed by maintenance of internal balance through equitable distribution of ‘food’ (the necessities of life) amongst all resulting in the rise (increase) of the seven offerings (sapta archi) in sacrifice.
Pippalada might have meant the honouring of the seven sages or of the heads of the seven organs of the state. The ruler, who was at the heart of this polity, aided and influenced all the sectors of the larger society through the many wings of administration. This polity provided for their succour and in turn it strengthened every one of the seven wings of the state.
Pippalada provides for rewards and punishments, for social ascent and descent but recognizes that most of the population of the commonalty had both merits and demerits to their account. [It may be noted here that unless we solve the issues pertaining to the social polity we would not be able to provide a rational interpretation to these verses.]
He allows the governing elite, especially Aditya, the head of the military-cum-administration, to deal with the members of the frontier society (bahya), especially those people (prana) who were at the bare subsistence level. Aditya is considerate to them and extends to them benefits.
[It is likely that the sixth Manu, Chakshusha, had recommended this policy of absorption of the people of the frontier society in the core society through liberal gifts. Vivasvan, also known as Surya or Aditya, was a member of the council of seven sages during the tenure of Chakshusha and had the rank of a Devarshi, a scholar and also a member of the nobility.]
Pippalada says that the nobles (devatas) who had risen from the agro-pastoral commonality (prthvi) were required to herd in, keep together, those sections of the commonalty who had been pushed out by the officers (purusha) of the state. The purushas were on the threshold of the traditional cultural aristocracy, devas, while the devatas were mostly plutocrats of the frontier society or its technocrats.
The sage was answering the question on how to support the persons who were not part of the economy of the core society.
The wings of the administrative machinery, which were entrusted with the task of maintaining equity and providing food for all (samana) looked after the sections of the population that came under the social world known as ‘antariksham’ (social horizon) and ‘akasa’ (open space).
The official of the state designated as Vayu conveyed the succour, which the central authority gave, to all sections of the population of the larger society. This measure was known as ‘vyana’ (3-8).
The role of the official designated as ‘tejas’ is correlated to the upward breath, udana. One who ceases to develop his personality and his urge for social and moral ascent has been subordinated, returns to his previous level. Pippalada agrees that the organs of the body (politic) may reach a stage of ineffectiveness and there may be mental fatigue (3-9).
[The interpretation, “He whose fire (of life) has ceased, goes to rebirth”, is not sound.”]
Acquisition of considered thought (chittam, intent) has to precede one’s approaching the level of, becoming the representative of the will (prana) of all the sectors of the larger society. As a splendid (tejas) person (one who is trained to function so) representing all, he along with his personal identity (atma) kept intact goes to every social world (loka) that he had planned and resolved to bring into existence. Such planning and resolve (samkalpa) had to precede the decision (chittam) to bring it into reality.
Pippalada had in his view the steps by which Mahadeva had resolved and brought about the formation of the new nation-states, which however did not have internal social and cultural unanimity.
The transliteration of this verse as, “Whatever is one’s thinking, therewith one enters into life; his life combined with fire along with the self leads to whatever has been fashioned (in thought)”, fails to bring out the meaning of the counsel.](3-10).
A scholar (vidvan) who knows this role of ‘prana’, that is, of representing the will of all the sections of the larger society will be able to become Prajapati and bring under his jurisdiction as subjects (prajas) more people. There will be no lessening in the number of his prajas. He was advised to follow a liberal policy so that more people came under his jurisdiction and none left his fold. Such a Prajapati could become a member of the aristocracy (amrtam) (3-11).
Pippalada then draws the attention of Kausalya to a popular verse. (12) One gains entry into the fold of the nobility (as an intellectual) if he knows who are the original (utpatti) people of the territory, who have come from abroad (ayata), their statuses and places of settlement (sthana) and the fivefold division of duties among the (five) heads (vibhutis) (of the five organs of the state, amatya, janapada, paura, kosa and danda which together formed the ‘rajyam’).
This head of the social polity, Prajapati, must know the relationship between his roles as the representative of the will (prana) of the people of this larger society and as a bare individual (adhyatma) not connected with any social body. In other words he had to rise far above his loyalty to his clan, community etc. and have no personal interests. Only such a Prajapati could be a charismatic figure, the sage was suggesting.
Pippalada and Gargya
Latent Talents of the Social Leader, Purusha
Gargya whose grandfather had been a general, Surya, asked Pippalada what talents and powers lay asleep and latent in the social leader (purusha) and what ones were awake and active. Gargya wanted to know who was known as the noble (deva) for whom these dreams (svapna) were a reality witnessed (pasyata) and what was the comfort and happiness (sukham) (that he was said to enjoy).
In whom are all these established (sampratishthita), that is, who has the traits of both a social leader (purusha) and an aristocrat (deva)? The purushas were said to be on the threshold of the aristocracy (divam). Gargya wanted to know about that threshold (4-1).
Pippalada asked him to visualize the setting sun. The rays of the setting sun are drawn back into the bright circle (teja-mandala), the circle of brilliant intellectuals, which disappears into night and reappears in the morning.
So too all the latent dreams and manifest deeds of the social leaders (purushas) are reported to the other social world, that is, to the nobles (devas) and the latter deliberate (manas) on them. At that stage, the social leader (purusha) stays inactive. He does not hear or see or smell or taste or touch or speak or accept or rejoice or distribute or move. At that stage he is said to ‘sleep’, to be withdrawn into himself (4-2).
In other words, when the new integrated aristocracy began to deliberate on the functions performed by the different officials and social leaders and their latent talents, these officials and leaders had to remain ‘inactive’.
Unless we recognize that Pippalada and the five scholars were discussing issues pertaining to the roles of the different cadres and officials of the polity we would fail to note this aspect.
The nobility had withdrawn to deliberate on what work had been accomplished by the officials and leaders, what was yet to be accomplished and other related issues and the administrative machinery including the social leaders had come to a standstill.
But the commoners (the living beings, prana) continued to be awake and the fire (agni) in their households continued to burn. The activities of the commoners were kept under check by Agni, the civil judge, These households belonged to the city of the Gandharvas who had initiated the system of three household fires, garhapatya, anvaharya and ahavaniya. It may be noted that the ancestors of Gargya were Gandharvas. The Gandharvas ranked above the commoners (manushyas) but below the nobles (devas). They were required to perform night-vigil as part of their social duties (as Chitraratha told Arjuna).
Their duties began where those of the social leaders and officials (purushas) ended and while the aristocracy (including both cultural and intellectual, ‘sabha’ and ‘samiti’, that is, the integrated ‘samiti’) retired to deliberate further moves. The garhapatya (domestic) fire is correlated to out-breath (apana), the anvaharya (dakshina) fire to diffused breath (vyana) and ahavaniya (welcome) fire to in-breath (prana). The twig that has been taken away from the garhapatya fire is put later in the ahavaniya fire. Pippalada implies that the Gandharva practice advocated re-induction of all persons who dropped out of the domestic fold. (4-3)
[The remark, “Life is conceived as a sacrifice and these three life breaths are symbolically identified with the fires used in the Vedic sacrifice” does not bring out the deep implications of this allegory.]
Pippalada says that the equalizing breath (samana) is so called because it equalizes the two processes, inhaling and exhaling. This role is performed in the mind, which may be compared to the host who performs the sacrifice, yajna. The sage implies that the integrated aristocracy that deliberated on merits and demerits of the officials concerned may be compared to the mind.
The fruit of the sacrifice, that is, the objective (ishta) behind the sacrifice is compared to the upward breath (udana). The object of the householder who performs the sacrifice is to attain the status of ‘Brahma’.
As the aspirant sacrificer ensures that there is a diffusion of all benefits and re-absorption of all elements in the social polity after they have once dropped out and as there is an attempt to maintain a balance between those who enter the society and those who leave it, he is fit to rise to the highest social cadre, Brahma, the judiciary. (4-4)
[The remark, “In deep sleep the soul is said to be at one with Brahman and we only do not know it”, is not relevant here.]
Pippalada then describes the role of the noble (deva). The noble (deva), a member of the integrated aristocracy, who ‘dreams’, experiences ‘greatness’ (mahima). The sage was referring to the Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva, who had during his repeated circum-ambulation of the subcontinent seen and heard whatever had been seen and heard (by others) and had varied experiences in the different areas and countries and directions he had visited.
He had seen and heard and experienced not only what others had seen and heard and experienced but also what others had not seen or heard or experienced. He had experienced the lives of those individuals who were at the ‘primitive’ stage and led the simplest of life (anubhuta) and those who did not lead such a simple life (an-anubhuta). He had known the reality (sat) and the unreal (asat). He hence sees all things and all peoples, as he is the representative of all sections of the society. [This analysis is based on a critical appreciation of the Vratya section, Atharvaveda Bk.15. Vide Ch.5. Evolution of Social Polity of Ancient India] (4-5).
[The remark, “Usually in dreams, we have reproductions of waking experiences but sometimes we have also new constructions” is irrelevant.]
When the Prajapati who has had wide experiences becomes a great individual (abhibhuta) endowed with charismatic brilliance (tejas), that is, becomes fit to be a representative of all the sections of the larger society, and has gained entry to the nobility as a ‘deva’, he sees no ‘dreams’. He knows what he has to do and what has to be done. He is a pragmatist and not a ‘dreamer’. He is a human being and functions within the framework of the body politic (sarira) and is happy to see that his plans for it are executed (4-6).
[The translation, “When he is overcome with light, then in this state, the god (mind) sees no dreams; then here in this body arises this happiness” fails to bring out the progress of the Prajapati as a noble (deva). It is not sound to state that the state of dreamless sleep is described here.]
Even when this chief of the people with wide charisma is absorbed into the integrated cultural aristocracy, he maintains his identity (atma). He does not become another aristocrat who could not but adhere to the codes of the nobility, keeping away from the commonalty. Just as birds resort to a tree for a resting-place, all the persons in this larger society resort to this great individual (now an independent member of the integrated nobility) to get established as a collective (sampratishthita). He was representing not their individual wills but their collective will (4-7).
The human society is composed of the five sections, prthvi, apa, tejas, vayu and akasa and every individual is a minute part of one of these five sections. These five have often been presented as the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) of ‘matter’ (prakrti) and that they are present in every (human) being and such picture has come to reign and obscure the recommendations of the Upanishadic sages.
Pippalada treated the agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi), the riverine and maritime economy (apa), the intellectual aristocracy (tejas), the people constantly on the move (vayu) and the people of the open space (akasa) and the other society (antariksham) as the five sections of the larger society.
While answering the questions posed by Gargya, he resorted to Samkhya dialectics and fundamentals. These covered the above five elements present in all beings and in nature.
Pippalada visualized the integrated society as one where every individual had the orientations that were earlier particular to these sections that stayed apart from one another without being able to merge.
Samkhya dialectics dealt with the ten organs of perception (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, mouth, hands, penis, anus, legs) and their functions and the objects pertaining to each of them. It also dealt with the processes in which mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), self-identity (ahamkara), considered thought (chittam) and brilliance (tejas) and ‘life’ stood apart from the above physical functions and also analytically distinguished from one another. One thinks by his mind and gets counsel from his mind. So too, the society has thinkers and counsellors who function on its behalf.
The ego or self-identity (ahamkara) leads one to act in his personal interests (aham-kartavya) and ‘chittam’ makes one function wisely (chetayitva). The individuals who are endowed with ‘tejas’ are able to educate and enlighten (vidyotayitva) all. [The interpretation that ‘teja’ meant the luminous skin that is distinct from the skin that can be touched is not relevant here.] The person who represents the essential and common will (prana) of all supports all the varied sections (vidharayitva) of the larger society. (4-8)
This ‘representative’ who sees, touches, hears, smells, tastes, thinks, counsels and does (his duty) (as any commoner) and is an individual who has acquired further knowledge (vijnana) through extrapolation of the knowledge (jnana) he has gained through formal training is described as one able to provide social leadership, as a ‘purusha’.
As this leader enters the integrated aristocracy as an intellectual and charismatic personage representing the will (prana) of all the sections of the larger society, he gets established (sampratishthita) in that other (para) and permanent (akshara) social world as an individual (atma) representing that collective (4-9).
[The remark that the subject self is established in the Spirit which transcends all duality, even the distinction between subject and object is a futile attempt to introduce metaphysics in what was a debate on socio-political issues.]
Gargya must have wondered whether this great chief of the people who moved about among the different sections of the larger society and was granted a place in the high integrated aristocracy as the representative of its collective will was originally a commoner or a noble. (He was curious to know more about Mahadeva, the Vratya Prajapati.)
Pippalada says that that individual (atma) who was indeed a member of the permanent and high aristocracy, returned to it (after accomplishing his mission of establishing small nation-states capable of meeting the needs of all sections of the society).
He was not a person (father) who was followed by his shadow (son). He was not a member of any social body (sarira) and was not a rajanya, not red in colour as ‘rajas’ is said to be (alohitam). He was pure white (subhra), the colour of ‘sattva’ (the trait of the pious). In short he was a member of the gentle aristocracy and he returned to its fold.
A person who knows this process becomes one who knows every thing (sarvajna) and identifies oneself with all. (4-10)
[The transliteration, “He who knows the shadowless, bodiless, colourless, pure, undecaying self attains the Supreme, Undecaying Self; He who knows thus becomes omniscient, becomes all”, is unacceptable,]
In this connection the teacher cites a popular verse. He who knows this (talent) that does not decay (aksharam), in which are established (sampratishthita) not only the scholars (vijnana-atma) and nobles (devas) but also all living beings at the bare subsistence level (prana-bhuta) is said to be one who knows all (sarvajna). He has access (avivesa) to all (sarva) fields of knowledge (4-11).
[The translation, “He who knows that Undecaying Self in which are established the self of the nature of intelligence, the vital breaths and the elements along with all the gods (powers) becomes omniscient and enters all” fails to present a rational picture of the teachings of Pippalada. He was not dealing with soul or God.]
Pippalada and Satyakama
On the Advantages of Chanting Aum
Satyakama, son of Sibi, asked Pippalada to tell him what social world (loka) a commoner (manushya) who deeply meditated (abhidhyayita) on the syllable, aum, till the end of his ‘life’, would win for himself (5-1). Pippalada pointed out that there were two types of Brahma, param, and aparam, high and low. (We would stress here that the term, Brahma, meant the judiciary that functioned under the provisions of the socio-political constitution, Brahma or Atharvaveda.) Satyakama might have been the son of the maid, Jabala, who was not sure who his procreator was. Sibi was a liberal ruler of forest areas and might have taken him under his protection.
Satyakama wanted to know to what level of judiciary a commoner who was initiated in Vedic studies and who had taken the pledge to abide by truth, satya, would be admitted. The syllable, aum, stood for that pledge to the codes based on truth, satya, that held sway during the later half of the Vedic period.
Would those commoners who abided by these codes be deprived of access to the highest judiciary Brahma-loka? Pippalada allays his fears.
A scholar, vidvan, by his adherence to the implications of this syllable, aum, that is by his consistent adherence to the codes based on truth, would be able to reach either of the two levels. In other words, he would not be deprived from joining the higher judiciary just because he started his career as a commoner (manushya) and not as a noble or as a descendant of a scholar. (5-2)
The syllable, aum, has three alphabets and sounds, a, u, and m. Pippalada told him that a person who paid deep attention (dhyana) to only one sound, that is, to ‘a’, would be enlightened by it. He would be by that elevated quickly to the level of the social universe (jagat). The Rg verses initiated him (only) into the ways of the social world (loka) of commoners (manushyas).
While being in that social universe away from family and as an individual, he was trained in rigorous exertion to learn and find out new things (tapasa). He observed celibacy as a student (brahmachari) and was dedicated (sraddha) to his duties. He got experiences that would make him great.
‘Aumkara’ was essentially an orientation that had developed among the Gandharvas who were a loose-knit social universe rather than a rigid community of commoners. The early ranks of Brahmans and Kshatriyas were drawn from the Gandharvas rather than from the commoners, manushyas. They were then inducted into the ways of the commoners.
[The translation of this verse as, “If he meditates on one element (a), he, enlightened even by that, comes quickly to the earth (after death); the Rcas (verses) lead him into the world of men; there endowed with austerity, chastity and faith, he experiences greatness”, is imprecise and fails to bring out its intent.] (5-3)
If that student concentrated on two alphabets or sounds, ‘a’ and ‘u’, he could become a perfect (sampadya) thinker (manas). The formulas of the Yajurveda would lead him up to the second social world known as ‘antariksham’, that is, to the other society of the forests and mountains.
This was the social world directed by the sober but strict intellectual, designated as Soma (moon, in common parlance). Having experienced there the courses of training meant for senior officials, vibhutis, he would return to the social universe of free intellectuals, administrators and warriors. (5-4).
[It is obvious that the translation of this verse as, “Then (if he meditates on this) as of two elements (au) he attains the mind; he is led by the Yajus (formulas) to the intermediate space, the world of moon; having experienced greatness there, he returns hither again”, has failed to recognize the purpose behind this instruction. The remark, “the after-death experiences in the plane of the Moon are of the same nature as ideas and are therefore compared to dreams”, needs to be discarded as being off the mark and not relevant to the theme of this discourse.]
If one pays deep attention to (the calibre and functions of) the highest among social leaders (param purusha who is admitted to the integrated aristocracy) while uttering the three sounds, a,u,m in the ‘aumkara’ (aum) and follows the path shown by that ‘param purusha’ he becomes endowed with the traits required of Surya.
Surya or Aditya headed that integrated aristocracy comprising the highest of the intellectuals of the social world of commoners, the plutocrats and technocrats of the frontier society who were granted the status of ‘devatas’ and the liberal, cultural aristocrats, devas. That social leader gets freed from all sins even as a snake (pada-udara for whom the belly is the foot) sheds its skin.
He is led by following the rules mentioned in the Samaveda chants, to the cadre of jurists, Brahma-loka. There he sees the personage (purusha) who is higher than the highest of all who live in (that) city or area (pura) (5-5).
[It needs to be remarked here that the explanation that the world of Brahma is the world of ‘Hiranya-garbha’ (the golden womb) who is the lord of Satya-loka is not relevant here. It is also not warranted to introduce the concept of Saguna Brahman to describe the param purusha. The latter was the highest official of the judiciary.]
Pippalada then draws the attention of Satyakama to two popular verses. If one pays attention to the three sounds, a, u and m, separately and follows their implications he can not go beyond the orientations that are relevant to the commonalty that is insentient (mrtyu) and does not have high cultural goals. But if he pays attention to the implications of the combined sound, aum, and the mutual relations (among the three social worlds, manushya, soma and brahma, as indicated in the three Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Sama) and brought into systematic operation (pra yukta) without being separated from one another in deeds pertaining to them, the intellectual (jna) (who occupies an important position in administration) will not totter. The verse refers to the three areas as ‘bahya’, ‘abhyantara’ and ‘madhyama’.
[The translation of these terms as ‘external’, ‘internal’ and ‘intermediate’ does not convey the sense in a precise way.]
For the ruler who was also a sage (Rajarshi), the rural areas around the capital constituted external areas (bahya) and the areas in the distant deep forests where industries were located constituted ‘abhyantara’. The areas between the two where most of the schools were located constituted ‘madhyama’, the middle areas.
His own palace and capital where he had real sway were known as ‘aditya’ territories. These territories were not under the jurisdiction of the administrator who managed affairs pertaining to the first three, bahya, abhyantara and madhyama (5-6).
[The remark that the interconnection of the three elements or sounds, ‘a’, ‘u’ and ‘m’, indicates the inter-relatedness of the three worlds, waking, dream and sleep is irrelevant here. Similarly the remark, “If a man meditates on the three elements separately, it is an emblem of mortality; if he meditates on them as interconnected, he goes beyond mortality” is irrelevant in the present context where the sage answers the question put by a prince who was the son of a hunter-ruler of the social periphery.]
The ‘poets’ (kavis) held that the verses of Rgveda helped one to have influence over this commonalty and the formulas of Yajurveda to control the distant frontier areas (antariksham) and the chants of Samaveda the intellectuals (of the schools). [Kavis were legislators and were a branch of Bhrgus.]
A scholar (vidvan) who takes the support of ‘aumkara’, that is, of the three worlds (agro-pastoral commonalty, frontier society, and sober intelligentsia) represented by the three sounds merged in it, will gain access to the fold of the tranquil, healthy, cultured and fearless aristocracy. [The note that the ‘turiya’ or ‘supreme’ state transcends all the three states, waking, dream and sleep is not relevant here.] (5-7)
Pippalada and Sukesa, Disciple of Bharadvaja
On the Sixteen Traits of the Ideal Purusha
Once, Hiranya-nabha, a prince of Kosala, asked Sukesa, a disciple of the great sage, Bharadvaja, whether he knew where the personage (purusha) with sixteen ‘parts’ was. Sukesa did not know the answer and did not want to tell him ‘untruth’ (anrta). He wanted to know from Pippalada who that person was and where he was. It is likely that the prince might have threatened him with dire consequences but Sukesa did not want to utter a lie even in personal interest.
To be precise he did not want to dilate on a concept that had not been incorporated in the early Vedic code based on ‘Rta’ and which was not approved by the middle Vedic code based on ‘Satya’. The prince went away in his chariot, disappointed. (6-1).
Pippalada told him that the person (purusha) with sixteen parts (kalas) was within his body (sarira). It is an ability that evolves from within the body and influences everything. (6-2) If that ability soars, the person concerned gains great influence (utkranta), and if it got established (in a particular place) he too got established (pratishtha), he realized (6-3).
[The sixteen parts of the subtle-body, linga-sarira, described by the Samkhya system need not be brought in here. The explanation that ‘that Purusha is the inner self, pratyagatma, need not be debated on as the discourse is on issues other than theology.]
The sixteen departments that the Purusha ‘created’, brought out by analysis (asrja) are Prana, Sraddha, Kham, Vayu, Jyoti, Apa, Prthvi, Indriya, Manas, Anna, Virya, Tapas, Mantra, Karma, Lokas and Nama. These have been (loosely) translated as, life, faith, ether, air, light, water, earth, sense organ, mind, food, virility, austerity, works, worlds and name (4).
The comment that the sixteen parts are created through ‘avidya’ is unwarranted. As the rivers flow into the ocean they lose their separate identities and names and forms. They are called simply the ocean.
Similarly an observer, who looks back, would notice the sixteen parts tending towards that personage and on reaching him they disappear. They lose their identities and are called simply the person, ‘purusha’. That one which has no such segments is called ‘amrtam’ (immortal, in common parlance). In other words a social stratum, which one cannot further classify on the basis of any of these sixteen criteria is treated as permanent and imperishable (6-5).
Pippalada would hold ‘purusha’ as the larger social polity to which all these sixteen sectors contribute their traits. Of course, these segments themselves have originated in his endeavours to form an integrated polity.
‘Prana’ as has been explained here meant the will of the larger society. ‘Life’ has been infused in that society. The commonalty was earlier noted for its insentience and inability to function on its own. The ‘Purusha’ constitution that was adopted by Kosala gave opportunity for all sections of the society to develop and express a common will. This will was reflected in the concept of dedication (sraddha), a total selflessness, a silencing of self-interest and a sense of duty to the cause undertaken.
Pippalada must have had the mission of Mahadeva in his mind. It was a mission intended to meet the minimum needs of all sections of the population.
The five sectors of the larger society that were covered were antariksham or kham, vayu, jyoti, apa and prthvi. What they referred to has been dealt with earlier in several places.
The industrial economy of the dark forests, mines and mountains, the population that was constantly on move in open terrains, the intellectuals who guided others, the ‘fluid’ society that depended on riverine and mercantile economy and the agro-pastoral economy were covered by these five sectors. The sections that were inured to physical activities and pleasures from them (indriyas) are distinguished from the thinkers (manas).
These two fields of activities later led to the formation of the two classes Vaisyas and Brahmans. The concept of meeting the food needs of all is another feature of this polity. From this the need for valour was met. In other words, the agrarian population, kshudra, was the base from which the class of warriors, viras or kshatriyas rose. [The concept of fertility is not to be brought in here.]
The concept and duty of performing ‘tapas’, rigorous endeavour to know what is not known and to find new methods and create new things formed another segment of ‘purusha’, one who led others.
The formulas (mantras) that contained these findings and the work system (karma) that put these findings to good use also came within the purview of ‘purusha’. The different social worlds came into existence as a result of this procedure and they were identified and their respective orientations were crystallized. Finally the individual member of every organized social world was recognized by his name rather than by his vocation or by clan only.
The ‘Purusha’ constitution had these sixteen features. Sukesa was taught these so that he might acquaint Hiranya-nabha of Kosala with it. Of course, the Purusha (the head of the polity with life tenure or tenure of twentyfour years without being subordinate to the nobility but guided by the samiti, the council of scholars) had no control over the nobility (amrtam), which was a single entity without being a conglomeration of different social groups.
Hiranya-nabha, the prince whose chariot had a golden hub, had to realize that only if all the different sections of the population and their multifarious activities were well attached to and directed from the centre, he would be able to function effectively under the ‘Purusha’ constitution that made him ‘Purusha’, leader of all sections of the larger society but kept the nobility out of his control. Pippalada thus acquaints Sukesa with the counsel that the latter should give to Hiranya-nabha.
The ‘Purusha’ had to know the limits of his powers and duties so that he might not be afflicted by death, that is, treated as one who was but an ordinary human being who did not know his talents (mrtyu) (6-6).
Thus Pippalada explained to the six students what the highest knowledge, param brahma, knowledge of the highest authority in the socio-political constitution meant. There was nothing more or higher than that, he declared. They praised him and thanked him for having removed their ignorance (avidya). (6-7,8)