CHAPTER 2 SECTION 4
The attempts to introduce the concept of five (or seven) facets of prana, breath, have diverted the attention of the readers from the main theme that Badarayana was dealing with. The various sections of the larger social polity can be categorised either on the basis of whether they are mobile populations, jagats, or settled communities, lokas, or on the basis of their affinity to one or the other of the four new classes, varnas,who are not confined to any specific region, pradesa.
Badarayana dealt with the relation between the specific ethos of a social class and the ethos of the population of a particular region. Here he asserts that the living beings, pranas, who are individuals, are categorised as new entrants (prana, inbreath), social rejects (apana, outbreath), active persons (vyana, breath spreading and flowing throughout the body), individuals who maintain social balance (samana, equalizing breath) and individuals on social ascent (udana, upward breath). All these individuals have their specific roles to play and cannot be brought under a single construct. (tatha prana 2-4-1) Thibaut reads this formula as Thus the vital airs.
Thibaut translates the next epigram (2-4-2) as On account of the impossibility of a secondary (origin of the pranas). Badarayana points out that these individuals playing diverse roles in the larger society are located in different areas and it is not possible to herd them into a single locale. (gauni asambhavat 2-4-2)
Thibaut interprets the next epigram (2-4-3) as, On account of that (word which indicates origin) being enunciated at first (in connexion with the pranas). What the Vedas have said earlier is to be determined. It is not to be held that Badarayana was referring to what has been described in Mundaka or Prasna or Chhandogya Upanishad. Rather, they have followed the rules set down by him. The social code advocated by Badarayana distinguished among the different types of human beings living and functioning as individuals.
Those who were at the bare subsistence level were absorbed in the new core society by ensuring that they secured the minimum needs like food. The term, prani, referred to such a being. But there were some who failed to function as responsible members of that society and were shut out and constrained to reside in the social periphery and they were not able to get all their needs met. They were feared by the core society. The term, bhuta, referred to such an individual.
But there were some individuals who were no longer bound by the codes of their respective clans and codes and functioned as responsible members of the larger society spreading its culture and ethos. The term, vipra, referred to such an intellectual. There were some individuals who assisted the state in maintaining law and order. They were known as naras. A few intellectuals could rise to higher levels and function as members of the judiciary. They were known as Brahmans. Badarayana draws attention to these cadres of the Vedic social polity whom he would reinstate by the new code. (tatprak srute ca 2-4-3)
Thibaut interprets the next phrase (2-4-4) as Because speech is preceded by that (viz. fire and the other elements). The above categories of individuals were in their respective sectors and performing the functions associated with those sectors before the Vedic hymns were recited and the Vedic social code was pronounced. The teacher refutes the charge that his code was introducing new features. (tat purvakatvad vaca 2-4-4)
Thibaut interprets the next epigram (2-4-5) as (The pranas are) seven, on account of this being understood (from scriptural passages) and of the specification (of those seven). The commentator draws attention to the mention of seven pranas in Mundaka Upanishad (2-1-8). But he dies not identify them.
The sage who initiated the new monks in the Brahma constitution was not confused on what these seven cadres were. The teacher of the Mundaka Upanishad holds that the concept of Purusha, the larger society, covers all the seven social worlds (lokas), all those individuals (prana) assigned to them, the seven types of flames that are to be lit there and the appropriate gathering of intellectuals (samit) of each of these worlds and the seven types of oblations performed by them. All the individuals (pranas) move from one social rank to another. They are all guided by the council of seven sages which each of the social worlds had. These sages lived in secret places (guhya, cave). (Mundaka Up. 2-1-8) [Some have interpreted that the seven pranas indicate the seven organs, two eyes, two nostrils, two ears and mouth.]
This verse has confounded the modern scholars who have overlooked the relevance of the concept of seven lokas, bhu, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya. Bhu referred to the simple agro-pastoral commonalty and Bhuva to the rich industrial frontier society of the forests and mountains. Sva referred to the social cadre of nobles who enjoyed considerable autonomy and immunities.
Maha referred to the council of sages who were social legislators and Jana to the assembly of the representatives of the local population. Tapaloka referred to the academy of planners and discoverers and inventors and Satya to the council of jurists who stood by the later Vedic constitution based on the principles of truth. It was possible for an intellectual to move from one social cadre to another among these seven. Badarayana was drawing the attention of his students to this social system. (saptagate viseshitatvat ca 2-4-5)
Thibaut interprets the next statement (2-4-6) as But (there are also, in addition to the seven pranas mentioned) the hands and so on. This being a settled matter, therefore (we must) not (conclude) thus (viz. there are seven pranas only). Some interpret the term, sapta, as referring to the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, hands, legs and organ of generation. Badarayana sets aside such references as irrelevant. He would advise the students to follow the settled position and not get diverted by the debate on how many pranas, that is, social cadres (seven, eight, nine or ten) there were and what they were. But the commentators of the medieval times and their later adherents have continued to debate this issue without reaching a conclusion. (hastadaya tu sthita ata na evam 2-4-6)
Thibaut translates the next phrase (2-4-7) as And (they are) minute. The existence of the human beings of the bare subsistence level is overlooked even as the atom is a very minute particle and is not visible to the common eye. But these human beings who are referred to as prani are highly potent and are capable of rising to the highest level. (anava ca 2-4-7)
The commentator interprets the next phrase (2-4-8) as And the best (i.e. the chief vital air). Among the five (or seven) pranas, the inbreath (prana) is considered to be superior to the other breaths, vyana, samana, apana and udana (and the two other breaths in the brain which enable one to grasp the secrets of nature and experience them thereby enabling him to be in close proximity to the Absolute). Badarayana implies that the newcomers who are absorbed in the society are faultless and are to be honoured. (sreshta ca 2-4-8) The term, sreshta, denoted the rich of the other society. Badarayana welcomed them to the core society.
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-4-9) as (The chief prana is) neither air nor function, on account of its being mentioned separately. Badarayana decries the tendency to identify Prana, the vital breath with Vayu, wind, in common parlance.
The new entrants, prana, to the core society are not obtrusive but have high potential to raise the level of the society and are to be highly esteemed. But they are distinct from the plutocrats and technocrats of the other society, which has acknowledged Vayu or Matarisvan as its leading light and follows the rules prescribed by that official. The functions of the new entrants are different from those of the plutocrats of the industrial society who were known as sreshtas. (The feudal lords claimed to be jyeshta, senior to the nobles.)
Badarayana draws attention to the counsel in the convocation address to the new administrators in Taittiriya Upanishad that Agni, Vayu, Aditya and Soma be treated as the guides and controllers of the social worlds known as Bhu, Bhuva, Sva and Maha, the agro-pastoral commonalty, the industrial frontier society, the ruling aristocracy and the council of legislators who were great sages. He implies that the new entrants at the lowest level or from the open society were pure and free from social obligations and are capable of raising the body politic to the highest and noblest level. (na vayukriye prthak upadesat 2-4-9)
The commentator interprets the next formula (2-4-10) as But (the prana is subordinate to the soul) like the eye etc. on account of being taught with them (the eye etc.) and for other reasons. The commentator notes that as the eye and so on stand, like the subjects of a king, in mere subordinate relation to the acting and enjoying of the soul and are not independent, so the chief vital air also, occupying a position analogous to that of a kings minister, stands in an entirely subordinate relation to the soul and is not independent. The commentators of the medieval times and also their modern exponents have missed a valuable clue.
The new students from the open society or from the lowest rungs of the larger society who are however highly talented and are different from those belonging to the rich classes are taught along with those who are trained for specific administrative roles in the social polity. These roles are compared to those performed by eye and other organs of the body. (cakshu adivat tu saha sishti adibhya 2-4-10)
Thibaut translates the next statement (2-4-11) as And on account of (its) not being an instrument the objection is not (valid); for thus (scripture) declares. The highly talented and trained counsellor who represents the entire larger society whether he has emerged from its lowest rungs where men but subsist and have no societal obligations or from the vast open society which too has no structure and related classification of societal roles is not a member of the executive (akarana). This objection is raised by some of the trainees.
They found that the different organs of the state were led by representatives of specific sectors of the society and that if there could be one who represented all of them he was not seen to be an executive of the society. In other words no member of the state executive was a truly selfless representative of the society. Badarayana replies that this objection is not valid as has been pointed out by him in the address by the teacher. (The term, scripture, need not be used in this context.) (akaranatvat ca na doshastathahi darsayati 2-4-11)
Thibaut reads the next statement (2-4-12) as It is designated as having five functions like mind. Even as the mind (manas) is able to appreciate the functions of the five organs, eyes, ears, nostrils, tongue and skin, that is, visualize form, sound, smell, taste and touch, the ideal representative of the larger society is able to perform the roles of all the five pranas (breaths), prana, vyana, samana, udana and apana. The interpretation that the roles are aspiration (prana), inspiration (apana), strengthening (vyana), ascending (udana) and equal distribution of food (samana) is imprecise.
Badarayana considered the supervision of the five organs of the state (rajyam), bureaucracy, city, rural areas, treasury and army, as the role of the chief thinker. He was not to be considered as unnecessary though he was not a member of the executive that dealt with the five organs of the state. Badarayana took into account the need for the presence of and supervision by a non-ostentatious social planner who was not a member of the five-member executive of the state. (panchavrtti manovat vyapadisyate 2-4-12)
Badarayana asks his students to note that this thinker is highly powerful like the minute atom that is present in all objects. (anudca 2-4-13) Thibaut reads this as And it is minute.
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-4-14) as But there is guidance (of the pranas) by fire etc. on account of that being declared by scripture. The commentator notes a discussion on whether the pranas are able to produce their effects by their own power or only when guided by divinities. It is not sound to treat jyotis as a reference to gods. They were officials heading different sectors of the larger social polity. Authority was vested in them. Dealing with the jyotis, the guides or luminaries, the teacher (while delivering his address to his trainees before they proceeded to take up their positions in the new polity) 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 included the Chakshus, Tapasas, Guhyakas and Siddhas. The term, Jyoti, covered all those officials who were guides of the individuals and groups under their charge. (Taittiriya Up. 1-3-2)
Badarayana asks his students to keep this in mind. He had already explained why these new positions of jyotis, guides, were created. Brahma-sutra explains the features of the administration of the new social polity and the status and functions of the new administrators who are learned guides and are not mere executives. (Jyoti adi adhishthanam tu tat amananat 2-4-14)
Thibaut makes Badarayana defend his position saying, (It is not so because the pranas are connected) with that to which the pranas belong (i.e. the individual soul), (a thing we know) from scripture. (2-4-15) It is not sound to introduce the concept of the individual soul (jivatma) and the Vedas here. The utterance is that the roles of these leading lights are connected with the five pranas, in-breath (prana), out-breath (apana), spreading breath (vyana), balancing breath (samana), and ascending breath (udana).
In Taittiriya Upanishad the teacher while delivering his convocation address drew attention to the counsel given by the chief of the people, Prajapati, to Sakra Indra. 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 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. (Taittiriya Upanishad 1-7) The Prajapati, the chief of the people of the larger social polity was counselling Indra. Badarayana was dwelling on this relationship. There is no reference here to the Vedas or to the Sastras. (pranavata sabdhat 2-4-15)
The commentator translates the next phrase (2-4-16) as: And on account of the permanence of this (viz.the embodied soul). He says, This embodied soul abides permanently in this body as the enjoyer, since it can be affected by good and evil. Not so the gods; for they exist in the state of the highest power and glory and cannot possibly enter, in this wretched body, into the condition of enjoyers. This distinction between commoners, manushyas, and the nobles, devas, is irrational. The concepts of good and evil and pleasure and pain are irrelevant here. This formula does not dwell with such a distinction or even with the concept of the human soul, jivatma.
The teacher was dealing with the issue of the permanence of the distinction among the five sectors of the larger society that was pointed out to Indra by his guide, the Prajapati, who as the chief of the people was the convener of the legislature comprising the house of nobles (sabha) and the council of sages (samiti). Badarayana draws the attention of his students to the social classification of the Vedic times. He does not modify it. He would like to make this a permanent arrangement. (tasya ca nityatvat 2-4-16)
According to the commentator the next formula (2-4-17) means: They (the pranas) are senses, on account of being so designated, with the exception of the best (the mukhya prana). This formula does not state which are treated as organs (indriyas) of perception or action. It is not sound to presume that the teacher was referring to the five pranas as indriyas. According to the teacher except for mind (manas) the other ten are described as organs of the body, five of perception and five of action. Mind is superior to these organs. (ta indriyani tad vyapadesat anyatra sreshthat 2-4-17)
The teacher says that this distinction has been made in the Vedas themselves. In other words, he is not introducing it anew. (bheda srute 2-4-18) Thibaut reads this statement as On account of the scriptural statement of difference.
Thibaut translates the next expression (2-4-19) as And on account of the difference of characteristics. The teacher says that this distinction made has to be accepted not because this is made in the Vedas and follows the traditional practice but because there are fundamental differences in traits between these organs and mind. In other words, the executive has to be distinguished from the thinker who notices what has been done by whom and recommends what has to be done. Badarayana was dealing with the social polity and the administration of the state for which his institute was training its students and for which he was outlining a new code. A thinker par excellence was to be at the helm of affairs of this polity. (vailakshanyat ca 2-4-19)
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-4-20) as But the fashioning of names and forms belongs to him who renders tripartite, on account of the teaching (of scripture). There is no reference to Sruti or Smrti in the formula. Badarayana was only drawing attention to the counsel given by the expert wherein the latter had introduced the principle of classifying all activities and thoughts and all beings on the basis of the three innate traits, sattva, rajas and tamas, sereneness, dynamism and inertness. What name has to be given to a particular class or what should be its format was to be decided by the thinker who had proposed the method of trilateral classification. Was Badarayana referring to the stand of Krshna, the author of Bhagavad-Gita? (samjna murti klrpti tu trivrt kurvata upadesat 2-4-20)
The commentator translates the next clause (2-4-21) as The flesh etc. originates from earth, according to the scriptural statement; and (so also) in the case of the two other (elements). The social thinkers had developed the concepts of three social worlds, lokas, classified as divam, antariksham and bhumi or as devas, gandharvas and manushyas or as rajanyas, vipras and manushyas, on the basis of these traits, rajas, sattva and tamas. All these were human beings made of flesh and originated in the commonalty (bhumi, earth). None of the three are to be presumed to be of the other world, to be supernatural or preternatural beings. This was the meaning of the Vedic statements. It is not sound to bring water, earth and fire, three of the five elements into picture here. (mamsa adi bhaumam yatha sabdamitarayo ca 2-4-21)
Thibaut translates the last statement (2-4-22) of this section as But on account of their distinctive nature there is (distinctive) designation of them. Although the principle of trilateral analysis has been followed in some places, the distinctive traits of certain units have been taken into account. Thus Badarayana sets at naught the objections raised by some of the trainees to the recommendations of the expert counsellor. (vaiseshyat tu tadvada tadvada 2-4-22)