CHAPTER 3 SECTION 3
Thibaut translates the opening statement of this section, as (The cognitions) intimated by all the Vedanta texts (are identical) on account of the non-difference of injunction and so on. According to Badarayana, all the Upanishads, which belong to the final stages of the Vedic era, convey identical stands, as there are no directions to the followers of any of the Vedic schools to adopt an approach distinct from others. His formulas meant for interpretation of the social constitution, Brahma, and recommended by him were to be adhered to by all. He was notdealing with the concept of the ultimate, Paramatma, that some have preferred to designate as Brahma. (sarva vedanta pratyayam ca udanat aviseshat B.S.3-3-1)
Thibaut translates the next statement (3-3-2) as, (If it be said that the Vidyas are separate) on account of the difference (of secondary matters), we deny that, since even in one and the same vidya (different secondary matters may find place). Some argued that there were differences between one Upanishad and another. Badarayana points out that there were different approaches even in the same Upanishad. In other words, every major Upanishad was the work of a group of scholars and they could not have all taken identical views on all matters. Even if the same author had drafted it, he too might have taken different stands at different times. Badarayana was not for unanimity among the scholars and adoption of all his recommendations irrespective of whether they were appropriate to the themes discussed in the Upanishad. (bhedat na iti cenna ekasyam api B.S.3-3-2)
The commentator explains the next formula (3-3-3) as (The rite of carrying fire on the head is an attribute) of the study of the Veda (of the Atharvanikas), because in the Samacara (it is mentioned) as being such. (This also follows) from the general subject matter, and the limitation (of the rite to the Atharvanikas) is analogous to that of the libations. The text does not refer to the study of the Vedas or the rite of carrying the fire on the head.
The student after completing his training in the academy was expected to continue his studies by himself and practise the duties assigned to him in accordance with his status and post in the society. He was required to adhere to the privileges attached to the post and their limits as prescribed in the constitution. This was so when the Atharvaveda was in force and would be so when the new constitution for the larger society would come into force. (svadhyayasya tathatvena hi samacara adhikarat ca savavat ca tanniyam B.S.3-3-3)
It is not necessary to claim that the Vedas or the Smrtis have all taken a similar position. Badarayana only says that there are various references to the above rule directing the graduate how to conduct himself after completing his formal education. Taittiriya Upanishad presents a convocation address recommending what a social administrator was expected to do. After having taught his student the Vedas formally, the teacher gave him the necessary final 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 cara).
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 and almost superseded 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. The graduate was advised not to treat self-study (sva-adhyaya) as unimportant and as a direction that could be ignored (ma pramada).
That teacher advised the student not to ignore the importance of the code based on truth (satya) and also of 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.
The social administrator (which the graduate is expected to 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.] (darsayati ca B.S.3-3-4) Thibault translates this phrase as (Scripture) also declares this.
Thibaut translates the next formula (3-3-5), as In the case of (devout meditation) common (to several Sakhas the particulars mentioned in such Sakha) have to be combined, since there is no difference of essential matter; just as in the case of what is complementary to injunctions. There is no need to refer to meditation or to rites like Agnihotra.
Badarayana advises all schools of thought to accept the provisions that are common to all while dealing with duties and privileges and orientations and treat the practices that are contrary to these rules as exceptions. This is stated for purposes of summarising the intents of the previous formulas. (upasamharartha bhedat vidhi seshavat samane ca 3-3-5)
Thbaut explains the next formula (3-3-6) as If it be said that (the udgitha vidya of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad and that of the Chhandogya) are separate on account (of the difference) of the texts, we deny this on the ground of their (essential) non-difference.
This formula does not mention either of the Upanishads to which the commentator draws attention. Yet the two references may be taken into account. Was the new constitution that Badarayana recommended identical with or in broad agreement with the earlier constitution, Brahma or Atharvaveda? What were the objectives of the two? These questions are to be borne in mind as we examine the two references that the medieval and later commentators have drawn attention to.
In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, the poet-sage clarifies that his upholding the importance of the Atharvaveda should not be construed as overlooking the importance of the other Vedas, particularly that of the Samaveda. The Samaveda treats as equal all the three social worlds (lokas). It treats as equal the entire cosmos (sarva) that includes not only the three lokas but also the three social universes (jagats) and others who are outside these. Hence, it is called Sama Veda, the poet explains. (Vide Ch.14 on Brhaspati and the rout of feudalism)
Its ambit is very wide and all comprehensive. He who realizes this trait of Samaveda attains union (yuj) with its spirit and lives in the academic world (loka) of the experts in Samaveda. The poet lauds the broad and egalitarian outlook of the academicians of the Samaveda school of thought (B.U. 1-3-22). He agrees that it has elevating poetry and music (udgitha), which upholds everything (sarvam, that is, all sections of the living beings and all noble systems and schools of thought) (B.U. 1-3-23).
In Chhandogya Upanishad, the sage says that during the conflict between the liberal nobles (devas) and the feudal lords (asuras) who were both subjects (praja) of the chief of the people (prajapati), the nobles (devas) took hold of the Udgitha (that is, the syllable, Aum). They thought that with the aid of the rule behind this syllable they would overcome the asuras. Devas and asuras were the two rival sections of the ruling elite of the core society that covered the agro-pastoral regions. The sage was referring to the rule that had made the loud utterance of the syllable, Aum, to indicate consent to the agreement entered into. (Vide Ch.32 The Message in the Chants)
While the nobles (devas) consented to abide by it, the feudal lords (asuras) refused to do so and hence all their economic and political activities were declared illegal. (C.U. 1-2-1) But the governing elite of nobles (devas) could not succeed in establishing a social order devoid of sins. The feudal lords (asuras) were accused of having afflicted the people with foul smells, false utterances, unseemly sights, evil counsels and evil intents (Ch.U. 1-2-2 to 6). But when the nobles adopted the Udgitha as their breath (prana) itself, the feudal lords (asuras) could not destroy it and were destroyed. One who wishes evil to another will be destroyed if the latter is like a solid rock (Ch.U. 1-2-7,8).
The sage says that the loud chanting (udgitha) of the syllable, Aum, makes one adopt a detached approach. (Ch.U. 1-2-9). The interpretation that all Upanishads have adopted the same approach though each of them has a special note does not bring out the import of this sutra or formula. (anyathatvam sabdatiti cen naviseshat B.S.3-3-6)
The commentator explains the next formula (3-3-7), as Or rather there is no (unity of the Vidyas), owing to the difference of subject-matter. Badarayana argues that one has to accept that the Upanishads have all a common theme despite the special stress given by each of them on a specific issue or come to the conclusion that there is nothing common amongst them. Badarayana was not dealing with the distinct disciplines of study, vidyas, the three Vedas, Anvikshiki, Varta and Dandaniti. (na va prakarana bhedat parovariyastvadivat B.S.3-3-7)
Thibaut translates the eighth formula as If it be said (that the vidyas are one) on account of (the identity of) name, (we reply that) that is explained (already); moreover that (identity of name) is (found in the case of admittedly separate vidyas). The commentator says here it might be said that after all the unity of the two vidyas must be admitted, since they are called by the same name, viz. the science of udgitha. But this argument is of no avail against what has been under the preceding Sutra. It is not sound to interpret that the expression, samjna means nama (name).
What the term concerned meant and how it should be understood has already been explained. Hence in every context the term, udgitha, for instance, has to be understood in an identical manner.
The ruling class of the earlier times had the traits of the feudal warlords, asuras. As the society became civilized the liberal nobles, devas, came to the fore. The asuras were senior (jyeshta) of the two and devas were junior (kaneeya) to them. There was a prolonged struggle between the two cadres for control over the (three) lokas or social worlds (divam, antariksham and prthvi). The gentle nobles (devas) extorted all to join the yajna, pronouncing the rousing chant, udgitha, to overcome the cruel feudal warlords, asuras. (Br. Up. 1-3-1) The sages of the Vedic and early post-Vedic period held that the liberal aristocracy rose only later and that feudalism prevailed earlier. (Vide Ch.14 of this work on Brhaspati and the rout of feudalism.)
The nobles requested the priests and others who were uttering the prayer-chants to pray (speak) for them. As the priests and others did so, all the affluence (bhoga) went to the share of the nobles (devas). This resulted in the priests and others securing all benefits (kalyanam) for themselves (atmana). The asuras realized that this prayer for the success and affluence of the nobles (devas) would result in the latter getting the support of all and enable them to overcome the former. Hence they made these priests utter words of evil intent (papa).
The sage explains that uttering a prayer for success of an evil intent when it is not in reaction to what is an evil intent is an evil. The udgitha was thus faulted. He was a representative of the masses and was also one of them. He was voicing their common will and also his personal ambitions, which he hoped to get fulfilled by the nobles (devas) scoring over the authoritarian asuras.
The prayer for success of the liberal nobles, devas, was inspired by personal and selfish ambitions of these priests and their followers. The sages who edited the Upanishad refused to approve such prayers. The nobles then asked the priests and others to devote their life-breaths (prana) for them and they did so and they too benefited thereby. This intent to gain personal benefit was a trait of the feudal elements and imbibing that trait was a sin. So too is the desire to see pleasurable objects and hear pleasurable sounds a hedonistic one and the commoners and others desiring these while serving the nobles are to be treated as stained by the feudal (asura) culture.
Self-restraint, that is, restraint of ones desire for pleasurable experiences is what keeps man away from evil. The mind too often gets carried away similarly. Not only the commoners of the larger society and the priests who induced them but also the elite (devatas) of the frontier society, were given to the pleasurable thoughts that passed through the minds of the aristocrats and their admirers and emulators.
The feudal culture represented by the asuras, infected the elite of the other society (devatas) too and distracted it from its purpose. Instead of placing ones services and wealth at the disposal of the commonalty and seeking their personal welfare in the welfare of others, these chiefs of the other society utilized for their personal benefit their acquisition of technical and economic power needed for social progress (B.U.1-3-2 to 6).
As both the commoners of the core society and the frontier society as a whole including its elite (devatas) came under the influence of the asura orientation, that is, living for oneself and seeking ones happiness at the cost of others, the nobles of the core society then invoked the vital breath (prana) that has its seat in the mouth (that is, in the deep throat) to speak out. [We have to trace what the sage meant by the term, prana.] The feudal elements tried to infect this breath too (that is, the basic orientations and cherished values of the society) with evil intent but they failed. They were scattered in all directions and perished.
The udgitha chant was directed against the undesirable asura orientation and called for the union of all forces and all social sectors against it. Thus the nobles (devas) began to flourish and the evil-minded feudal elements (asuras) were crushed. The poet-sage says that one who realizes the import of this battle between devas and asuras realizes his true self (atma) and the enemy who hates him is crushed (B.U. 1-3-7). The implication of the loud chanting is brought out when we realize that it was intended to bring all the three recognized social worlds, nobles, commoners and frontier society against the feudal lords.
Angiras (one of the chief contributors to the Atharvaveda) revered the Udgitha and adhered to the implications of the syllable, Aum. He is said to be Angiras because this was the essence of the limbs (anga). The teacher implied that the activities of the organs (anga) of the state as envisaged by Angiras, a socio-political ideologue and activist (Brahmavadi, upholder of Brahma or Atharvaveda, the socio-political constitution of the Vedic era) were sanctified by the utterance of this syllable, Aum (Ch.U. 1-2-10). The two contexts are not identical though they resemble each other; yet the interpretation given about the purpose of the udgitha deserves to be accepted. (samjnatasceduktamasti tudapi B.S.3-3-8)
Thibaut interprets the next epigram (3-3-9) as And on account of the (omkara) extending over the whole (Veda), (the view that the term udgitha expresses a specialisation) is appropriate. Every one realizes that there is a common spirit that pervades the entire larger society, the cosmos. This common and elevating spirit is represented by the syllable, aum (omkara), and is chanted aloud by all as udgitha. It is unnecessary to resort to logical systems to establish that all the hymns of the Veda express this concept. It is not necessary to discuss whether the exhortation, Let a man meditate on the syllable Om which is (which is a part of) the udgitha is logically sound or not. (vyaptesca samanjasam B.S.3-3-9)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-3-10) as Those (qualities, which are attributed to the subject of a Vidya in ine Sakha only) (are to be inserted) in other places (also), since (the Vidyas) are non-different on the whole. The conclusion arrived at by the commentator that the attributes belonging to one and the same subject have to be combined wherever that subject is referred to, although they may be expressly stated in one place only, fails to carry conviction.
Badarayana was appealing to his students to similarly set aside everywhere the contradictions in the text and arrive at unanimity of approach. The interpretation that practices of life (jivopasana) and practices pertaining to breath (pranopasana) are the same as worship of absolute knowledge (Brahmopasana) is untenable and cannot be drawn from this formula.
The commentator draws attention to how the term, vasishtha, has been used in different contexts in the Upanishads. Who among the individuals (prana) who reach very high level was the most suited for the highest position, the chief jurist and interpreter of the constitution, Brahma had to decide. In his view the person whose death or absence would affect the moral fibre of the body politic most adversely should be treated as the one most suitable to hold the highest position, that of Vasishtha (Brhadaranyaka 6-1-7). (Vide Ch.24 for a critical analysis of the dialogue between Pravahana and Uddalaka on the two paths.)
[What was the role of the incumbent of this position? He had to be the eldest (jyeshta) and the best (sreshta) person in the country as pointed out earlier if he were to be recognized as vasishtha. Vak (pronouncement of a binding verdict) was the duty assigned to vasishtha. It is not sound to interpret that the discussion was about which of the five pranas, breaths, prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana, was the best (sreya). The discussion was about which essential sector of the social polity was to be given the highest importance as being the most vital for its survival and growth.]
The sage in order to stress the importance of such a high socio-political position told his disciples an incident that took place when this most excellent nominee to the position of vak, the highest authority whose verdict could never prove wrong went on a furlough for a year. On returning he asked all the other officials of the institution of individuals who were at the level of mere existence (prana), observers (chakshus), reporters (srotras), thinkers (manas) and human and animal resources (praja) about how they had fared during his absence.
They replied that they had just been surviving (rather than living a full life) without proper guidance (vak) as dumb animals (B.U. 6-1-8). Of course every one of these officials had to play a significant role, the sage pointed out (B.U.6-1-9 to 13). It is easy but simplistic to state that every one of the sense organs is important. The issue here is how to decide who among all these officials of the social polity and its body politic played the most vital role.
It is not enough to be the most authoritative spokesman (vasishtha) of the social constitution or to be an accurate observer of the goings-on in the social environment and ensure social stability (pratishtha) or to be a good reporter on possibilities afar (prosperity, sampada). It is also not adequate to be a good thinker and planner who provides asylum to all (ayatana) or to work for positive development of human and animal resources (prana) or for the continuance of the society itself through procreation.
The highest and the most important official in the body politic was the one who looked after the most fundamental of the needs of all beings, that is, food that is signified by the crops standing in the water in the fields. Water (apa) is more important and more basic a requirement than food (anna), the sage concludes. This theme runs through many statements of the Upanishadic sages. (B.U. 6-1-14)
In the Chhandogya Upanishad the teacher declares that one who knows which among the functions of the (sense) organs is the eldest (jyeshta) and the best (sreshta), gains that status for oneself. In his view this status in social evolution belongs to the persons at the primal level who just exist and are said to be ones who breathe. Prana, the individual who but breathes, is the eldest and the best, it is said (C.U. 5-1-1).
It may be noted that in ancient Indian polity, the feudal lords (asuras) claimed to be senior (jyeshta) to the nobles (devas). Both these groups belonged to the ruling elite of the core society and they were engaged in a prolonged struggle for power. And the rich chieftains of the frontier society (yakshas) were addressed as sreshtas. (Vide Ch.38 of this work on Gautamas counsel on Purusha and Brahma.)
The teacher deems the persons who had neither political power nor economic power as the ones that may be treated as the eldest and the best among all social ranks. One who knows who is the most valued (vasishtha) among the nobles (svas) attains that status. His words (vak) carry weight (in the entire society) (C.U. 5-1-2).
One who knows correctly what gives him a permanent social status (and strives correctly) gains that permanent status (pratishtham). In the theorems pertaining to social polity, this status belonged to the institution of observers (chakshus, spies in common parlance). It functioned even during prolonged interregnum and in all forms of administration.
The teacher implied that the scholar who depended on empirical findings had a permanent status and influence (C.U. 5-1-3). It is noticed that medieval commentators and their modern adherents have missed the essential implications of the terms like vasishtha while trying to establish that there were no contradictions and inconsistencies in the Upanishads and between them and the Vedas. (sarva abheda anyatra ime B.S.3-3-10)
Thibaut translates the next statement (3-3-11) as Bliss and other (qualities) as belonging to the subject of the qualities (have to be attributed to Brahman everywhere). The commentator notes that those scriptural texts which aim at intimating the characteristics of Brahman separately ascribe to it various qualities such as having bliss for its nature, being one mass of knowledge, being omnipresent, being the Self of all and so on. Now the doubt arises whether in each context we have to understand that the term, Brahman, has all these qualities or only those traits mentioned in that particular context. It needs to be stated that most commentators have failed to present the concept, Ananda, correctly and so too the concept, Brahman.
As the Taittiriya Upanishad has been quoted on the concept of Ananda, bliss, it is necessary to know correctly what the teacher who was delivering the famous convocation address meant by this term. (Vide Ch.27 and 28 of this work on Taittiriya Upanishad) 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 last is hailed as the head (pati) of those engaged in thinking (manas), observing (chakshu), listening (srotra) and knowing more from what is known to others as well (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). (T.U. 2-3) 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. The scholar who is happy (anandam) 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 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 of the trunk (atma) of this statuette. 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. (T.U. 2-5)
The students were eager to know what privileges and immunities (the bliss, ananda) the supreme judge and head of the constitution bench and his colleagues enjoyed. The teacher asked them to visualize the happiness of the youth who was pious, educated, disciplined, mentally steady and physically strong, and had the entire agrarian terrain (prthvi) full of wealth. This youth was an ideal commoner, manushya, who had to earn his wealth through hard work. But he was not yet laden with cares of life that follow marriage and responsibility for the maintenance of the family. The students who would be soon graduating from the academy would be like this youth.
The happiness that a Gandharva who like this youth was closer to the commonalty, manushyas, but was not engaged in economic activities or bound by its discipline could enjoy was a hundred times that of the above ideal youth. Such a Gandharva was a free man, nara. He did not belong to the intelligentsia or to the ruling class though he did assist the latter and consequently had several privileges that were denied even to the capable commoner.
The Gandharvas had special privileges and were not subordinate to any state. The lower ranks of this free class were known as naras. Naraloka was superior to manushyaloka. Its members, manushya-gandharvas were closer to the commonalty, manushyas, than to the nobility, devas. The teacher says that the teachers of Vedas (srotris) who had no desires and ambitions were on par with these manushya-gandharvas with respect to privileges and immunities and independence and the bliss (ananda) they obtained thereby. It shows gross ignorance of the features of the Vedic social polity to translate the term, manushya-gandharvas as human fairies.
The Gandharvas who had access to the nobles, devas, were far superior to the manushya-gandharvas mentioned above. They were more sophisticated and could act on their own unlike the manushya-gandharvas or naras who were subordinate to the state though not to social groupings like kulas and jatis, clans and communities. The deva-gandharvas could visit any area and could not be proceeded against by any state or social group. The privileges and immunities and the consequent happiness (ananda) they enjoyed were hundred times more than what the free men (naras) or manushya-gandharvas enjoyed.
The gandharvas constituted a social universe, jagat, and there were perceptible strata and sectors among them. They were not part of the populace engaged in productive economy, whether agrarian or pastoral or industrial or in commercial economy. They were educated and followed pursuits that were closer to their hearts. They were masters of aesthetics and sensuousness but were not hedonists.
The privileges and immunities and consequent bliss, ananda, that the elders (pitrs) who were a non-economic social cadre (loka) and who constituted a permanent, social world (chira-loka) (settled in their pleasant forest-abodes) were hundred times more than what the deva-gandharvas had. The pitrs, elders, had no property and no earnings but were maintained by the younger generation among the commoners, manushyas.
They were not part of the socio-economic community of commoners, manushyas and their welfare and security were assured by the orientation that had been imparted to the earning members even while the latter were getting educated in formal schools (jnana) or through the informal education (pravacana) that was available through the roving scholars (vipras). The state too was required to meet their needs from its own sources.
The students some of whom belonged to the royal family and would soon become administrators were being briefed about the privileges and immunities (bliss, ananda), which the retired senior citizens, pitrs, enjoyed. But the privileges and immunities and consequent bliss that the born aristocrats (ajanaja devas) enjoyed were a hundred times more than what the protected elders, pitrs, enjoyed. A commoner (manushya) who is born in the janapada has far less rights and freedom and happiness than one belonging to the same janapada but born in an aristocratic family.
The teacher did not accept that all who were bracketed in the class of devas, nobles, and granted privileges and immunities that were not available to commoners (manushyas), or to gandharvas or to elders (pitrs) should be treated on par and granted the same privileges. The born aristocrats were not required to earn their livelihood and they could not be subordinated to the state. But they were not all part of the ruling elite. The latter enjoyed more rights and privileges than them.
There were some nobles (devas) who were associated with social and political administration and held executive posts. Some of them might have risen directly from the commonalty even as some of the aristocrats had risen from the upper crust of the commonalty. (These were known as Visvedevas.)
The karma-devas enjoyed more privileges and immunities than the born aristocrats who had no specific duties did. The Vedic social polity had a large administrative cadre (karma-devas) drawn from among the members of the aristocratic families (born aristocrats) who themselves had earlier belonged to the upper crust of the commonalty (vis). They were happier than those born in noble families but were not part of the administrative machinery.
Above these administrators ranked the members of the house of the nobles (devas). They enjoyed more privileges and immunities (bliss, ananda) than what the members of the executive did. In other words, the house of nobles, Sabha or Divam, which was the main body of legislature until the Samiti, the council of scholars, was recognized as equal to the former, was superior to the social and political executive that the karma-devas were.
Indra was the head of this house of nobles. He enjoyed more powers and privileges and immunities and hence happiness (ananda) than what its other members did. It may be kept in mind that the Vedic social polity was dominated by a liberal, cultured aristocracy. During the later Vedic times, in some regions, the powers of Indra were restrained by the creation of the post of Brhaspati who was the watchdog of the constitution as incorporated in the Atharvaveda. Brhaspati controlled civil polity and economy. The treasury and the armoury were in his charge and the aristocracy headed by Indra could not act independently. The privileges and immunities that Brhaspati enjoyed were more than what Indra enjoyed.
In the later Vedic polity the scholars who were members of the Samiti headed by the official designated as Agni had lost their importance and civil administration headed by the economist that Brhaspati was, came to the fore. In the normative Atharvan polity, while Indra headed the Sabha, the house of nobles, Agni was the head of Samiti, the council of scholars.
The two houses of the Vedic legislature were to be convened by Prajapati, the chief of the people. Indra-Brhaspati agreement, which came into force during the later Vedic period to wipe out the recalcitrant elements among the feudal lords, asuras, virtually subordinated the nobility to the civil polity dominated by the bourgeoisie and their representative, Brhaspati. In this process the intelligentsia headed by the civil judge, Agni, lost its social power.
In the modified set-up, the two officials, Indra and Brhaspati, had both to acknowledge the superiority of Prajapati who was a highly charismatic personage and represented all sections of the population. Indra represented and headed the patriciate while Brhaspati headed civil polity and the commonalty.
The new politico-economic code that Brhaspati operated subordinated the aristocracy to its provisions and virtually made it a toothless, unarmed leisure class surviving at the pleasure of the rich bourgeoisie and the hard-working commonalty. But Brhaspati himself had to respect the opinion and will of the masses that were reflected in the directives issued by the Prajapati. The privileges and immunities and the consequent bliss that the chief of the people, Prajapati had were more than what the civilian authority, Brhaspati, enjoyed.
The sages of the Upanishad dealt with the polity of the core society which had four classes, devas, pitrs, gandharvas and manushyas, nobles, elders, the free men and the commoners. They also identified three strata among the nobles and two among the Gandharvas.
The head of the constitution bench who was designated as Brahma was superior to the Prajapati, the charismatic leader of the people of the expanded state. The privileges and immunities and the consequent bliss (ananda) that Brahma enjoyed were more than what Prajapati enjoyed. The Prajapati enjoyed charismatic and rational legitimacy and could admit new members to the populace of the state, which was not confined to the jana, the sons of the soil. He convened and presided over the joint meetings of the sabha and the samiti, the house of nobles and the council of scholars headed by Indra and Agni respectively. The chief judge, Brahma ranked above the chief of the people, the Prajapati.
Brahma headed the judiciary whose verdict was superior to the will of the larger populace as voiced by the charismatic chief of the people, Prajapati. The voice of the Prajapati who was the head of the democratic social polity could override the directives issued by Brhaspati, the head of the civil administration who controlled armoury, treasury and economy and ensured that the nobles did not ride roughshod over the needs of the populace.
A commoner who has developed his talents can reach the level of Aditya. It is implicit that he cannot however become a member of that elite. He cannot attain the level of Indra or Brhaspati or Prajapati or Brahma. These positions required higher talents than the ones, which the Purusha was endowed with or had developed. The Purusha ranked far lower than Brahma, the supreme judge and interpreter of the socio-political constitution. None of the three terms, Purusha, Prajapati and Brahma indicated the status of the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God.
The teacher points out that a scholar who is trained in this (royal) academy on his departure (pretya) from it becomes an individual (atma) heading the (mundane) economy that provides food (anna) for all. As the trainee assumes his position as the head of the state or of its judiciary, he becomes the head of all the living beings (prana) whether they are members of organized (social) groups or not. This individual (atma) will not stay constrained by his membership of a social or economic group. He will after leaving the academy become a member of the group of (social) thinkers (manas). He will rise from that level of thinkers to become one who has gained knowledge of the yet unknown (vijnana). This needs extrapolation of the knowledge (jnana) already gained by him.
He could thereby become a member of the (council of) planners (for the future). Finally he will rise to become a member of the highest judiciary and enjoy the unlimited privileges and immunities (ananda, bliss) open to its members. The members of the high judiciary ought to have earlier functioned as members of the council of social planners (manas). The attention of the reader to the concept of ananda, as happiness resulting from exercising and experiencing special privileges of ones cadre is drawn in this elaborate account of what the teacher told his students as they left his royal academy after graduation. (anandadaya pradhanasya B.S.3-3-11)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-3-12) as (Such qualities as) joy being its head and so on have no force (for other passages); for increase or decrease belong to plurality (only). Badarayana was drawing attention to the figure, which had pleasure as its head, as noted in the above account of the Taittiriya Upanishad. That was with reference to the happy extrovert, which the ideal purusha was. All could be joyous like that but later the teacher dwelt on how not all had the same privileges and how those who were in the higher levels of the socio-political hierarchy enjoyed more privileges and more happiness while those who were in the lower levels had less privileges and hence less happiness. This note has been missed by the commentators. (priya sirastvadi aprapti rupaya ca payaca apayaca hi bheda 3-3-12)
Thibaut translates the next phrase (3-3-13) as But other (attributes are valid for all passages relative to Brahman), the purport being the same. Badarayana recommends that the then commonplace meaning should be accepted while dealing with terms and concepts like Brahma, Prana, Atma and Ananda and not other volute and metaphysical notes. The explanation that those attributes are mentioned with a view to knowledge only and not to meditation, is off the mark. (itaret artha samanyat B.S.3-3-13)
The commentator interprets the next formula (3-3-14) as (The passage, Katha 1-3-10, gives information about the person) for the purpose of pious meditation, as there is no use (of the knowledge of the objects being higher than the senses and so on). Since it is of no practical use to study a science in abstract, one has to utter a prayer keeping in mind what purposes one seeks to get fulfilled thereby.
Badarayana was taking a pragmatic stand. The sage held that the purposes (artha) to be served were to be given more importance than the means, the senses (indriyas) or organs by which the deeds having those objectives were to be carried out and the purposes accomplished. The thinkers (manas) who plan how to secure those purposes are to be given more importance those purposes themselves. The intellectual (buddhi) is more important than the thinker who has defined those purposes (artha), which are to be accomplished by the organs (indriyas) of the state or the social polity. More important than that intellectual is the great unattached individual (atma), who belongs to the council of sages (maha). (Adhyanaya prayojana abhavat 3-3-14)
Thibaut translates the phrase (3-3-15) as And on account of the word, Self. Badarayana draws attention to the implications of the term, atma. He did not identify this term with either jivatma or paramatma. It is used to denote one who is not functioning as a member of a social body and is hence eligible to be a legislator. (Atmasabdat ca 3-3-15)
The commentator interprets the next formula (3-3-16), as The (highest) Self has to be understood (in Ait. Ar. 2-4-1), as in other places; on account of the subsequent (qualification). That is, the term, atma has to be understood so in other places too as in Katha Upanishad (1-3-10) previously mentioned. It is not used in any other sense. More important than the (indriyas) organs (of the state) are the (economic) goals towards which they are directed. More important than these objectives (artha) set forth by the executive (of the state) is the role of the thinker and planner (manas). More important than the role of this thinker is that of the intellectual (buddhi) who guides.
More important than depending on this guide is to be guided by what is found by ones conscience (atma) to be correct. (1-3-10) Hence the atma is considered to be great (mahan). A great individual (mahatma) who is free from all social bonds and does not need a guide and for whom his own conscience lays the laws is a member of the council of legislators, which is superior to the state and the aristocracy. (Vide Ch.46 and 47 for a critical analysis of Katha Upanishad) (Atmagrhi iti itaravat uttarat 3-3-16)
Thibaut interprets the next statement (3-3-17) as Should it be said that on account of the connected meaning (of the whole passage the highest Self cannot be meant we reply that) it is so, on account of the assertion. It is not sound to interpret that the discussion was about the human soul, jivatma, and about the great soul, paramatma. The commentator draws attention to Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (1-4-7), which deals with one of the steps in the evolution of the four-fold society.
When the cadre of nobles (devas) was formed, this larger society (visvam) was yet undifferentiated. Its members got separate identities, names and forms (nama-rupa) only later. This differentiation was a deep one and not visible. What differentiated one from another were his view, thought and action. A total differentiation in personality can be recognized only when one looks inwards and meditates on the self (atma) in him.
The footprints left behind help one to trace from where he has proceeded ahead. A scholar who recognizes this aspect of looking deep into oneself and tracing back the course of development of individual distinguishing identities as developed by the members of the larger undifferentiated society (visvam) gains fame (kirti) and revered mention (sloka). This assertion is not to be lost sight of, according to Badarayana. (anvayaditi cetsyat avadharanat 3-3-17)
Thibaut reads the next formula (3-3-18) as As (scripture where speaking of the rinsing of the mouth with water) makes a reference to an act (established by Smrti that act is not enjoined by Sruti, but rather) the new (act of meditation on the water viewed as the dress of prana). It is not necessary to introduce the concept of claims in the Smrti not having been sanctioned by the Srutis. Badarayana defends the introduction in the new constitution, Brahma, of new features like duties with specific purposes, which are not social duties but duties that would raise the level of the ndividual (atma) (who is not a member of any social body) in the social polity. (karyakhyanat apurvam 3-3-18)
Thibaut interprets the next statement (3-3-19) as In the same (Sakha also) it is thus (i.e. there is unity of vidya), on account of the non-difference (of the object of meditation). Whether it is in the same upanishad or in different upanishads or in different codes a term should be construed as denoting the same concept if there are no differences in the contexts where it is used. This holds good also in the case of the two social constitutions (Brahma), the Vedic andthe post-Vedic. (samana evam ca abhedat 3-3-19)
The commentator explains the next statement (3-3-20) as Thus in other cases also, on account of the connexion (of particulars with one and the same vidya). Badarayana points out that with reference to totally different and distinct situations too if there is an inter-connexion, the term should be accepted as conveying the same concept. The commentator draws attention to Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (5-5) on this issue. Its theme needs to be grasped correctly.
This section of Brhadaranyaka Upanishad deals with the new constitution, Brahma, based on principles of truth, satya, which permitted certain ways of life that had been earlier barred as being against the rules of natural justice (rta). But these ways of life were hedged in the provisions of the code based on satya, truth and were not treated as granting total freedom to the individual. Hence what was not in tune with the laws based on rta partook the nature of satya.
One might stand by truth and harm oneself rather than abide by the laws that permitted one to protect oneself and promote his personal interests without caring for the laws based on truth. The code based on truth protected those who adhered to truth and ignored the laws based on self-interest and rta. One who understands this aspect and acts accordingly does not face decline if his conduct is found to be a violation of the laws based on rta. (B.U.5-5-1)
The sage held that the codes based on satya introduced by the new social system gave the highest place to Brahma, the chief judge and upholder of the constitution and placed the Prajapati, the chief of the people as being next to him in authority and gave the Prajapati authority over the nobles (devas).
The new code based on strict adherence to truth, satya, however permitted under supervision certain ways of life that were not considered to be rational and pragmatic and were hence decried by the earlier laws based on rta. It is not sound to translate the term, anrta, as untruth. It is imperative that rta and satya are not treated as identical with dharma. There were significant differences in the emphases the laws based on these three different concepts. None of them should be equated with religion.
The laws based on truth (satya) designated the personage (purusha) in the centre of the circle (mandala) of administrators belonging to the nobility as Aditya. That personage (purusha) and the personage (purusha) in the right eye (that is, the chief of the commonalty) were installed (pratishthita) as officials functioning in close contact with and dependent on each other. The agencies through which Aditya observed the different activities, events and persons influenced the agencies of observers belonging to the commonalty (pranas) too interacted. When one rises in social ladder (utkrama) he observes the functions of that circle of administrators (mandalam) of the aristocracy clearly (suddha). Then those agencies that throw light on the activities of the commonalty cease to focus on him (5-5-2).
The personage (purusha) in that circle (mandala) is visualized as representing all the three social worlds, bhu, bhuva and sva. His head is correlated with the unified (eka) commonalty, his two hands with the two sections, political and economic of the frontier society and the two legs on which he stands (pratishtha) with the two sections, liberal and feudal, of the patriciate of the core society. The Upanishad calls this personage as ahar, one who does not kill. One who knows this destroys sins, that is, ceases to be a sinner (B.U.5-5-3). The sage was drawing attention to the figure of the Purusha (Aditya). [In the Rgvedic hymn, Purusha-Sukta, the face was correlated to Brahmans, the arms to Kshatriyas, the thighs to Vaisyas and the feet to Shudras.] Here the head is correlated to the commonalty and the feet to the nobles.
The message of the Upanishad is that the nobles who were till then held to be the highest in the social ladder are under the new laws based on truth (satya) the supporters of the entire social system with the intellectuals at its top. The sage describes the personage in the eye (of the commoner) too in similar terms. But he terms this personage as aham, one with personal identity. (B.U. 5-5-4) (sambamdhat evam anyatra api B.S.3-3-20)
The explanation given for the previous formula is enough to indicate that there is an essential difference in the two contexts and hence the two concepts, ahar and aham, cannot be construed as referring to the same person. The commentator is off the mark when he says, Since the duties of the disciple to his teacher depend on the character of the latter and not on where he has his abode, the two secret names have to be held apart. (na va aviseshat 3-3-21) Thibauts translation is Or this is not so, on account of the difference (of place).
Thibaut interprets the next epigram (3-3-22) as (Scripture) also declares that. It is not sound to claim that Badarayana was citing scriptural authority in favour of his argument to silence his detractors. He was citing instances from different Upanishads to press his above claim. (darsyati ca 3-3-22)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-3-23) as And for the same reason the holding together and the pervading the sky (attributed to Brahman in the Ranayaniya-khila are not to be inserted in other vidyas). The new authority holds together, sambhrti, all the sectors of the larger open society, and its aristocracy, dyu, has influence over that open area, vyapti. The commentator is drawing attention to the instruction given by Sandilya and referred to in Chhandogya Upanishad (3-14-4). The teacher draws the attention of his students to the statement, All this is Brahma (Sarvam Idam Brahma). He asks them to calmly meditate on it, that is, think of the implications of this statement. (Vide Ch.35 of this work on the allegory of the honey-comb)
The teacher was dealing with the calibre of the members of the judiciary, Brahma. Why was a social leader, purusha, finding it difficult to gain entry to it despite his immense popularity? A social leader (purusha) is a talented person and has a plan and purpose (kratu). He is committed to a cause and represents certain interests. But an intellectual who is a member of the judiciary (Brahma) has no such purpose and is not committed to any cause.
The teacher does not denounce the traits and limitations of the cadre of social leaders who have definite interests. He permits them to pursue those interests but cautions that such persons would not be eligible to enter other cadres on the completion of their present tenures as representatives and leaders. He would advise the leader (purusha) to draw a plan of action that would help him to rise in the social ladder and not be merely a spokesman and promoter of the interests of the groups he is attached to. The enigma behind this verse and this section has to be thus resolved rationally. (C.U.3-14-1)
It is noted that the commentators of medieval times and their adherents of modern times have proceeded under the assumption that this section deals with Saguna Brahman without a physical symbol. The teacher says that the soul (atma), which is said to be in the heart (hrdaya), is his individual identity. It is pervaded by mind (manas). It is life (prana), which is located in the body. Its form (rupa) is like that of light, that is, it is neither solid nor fluid though glowing. The teacher was dealing with the calibre of the personage who had not left his social body but tried to be unattached to it and become eligible to enter the cadre of the high judiciary. This personage had resolved (samkalpa) to adhere to truth (satya).
The individual (atma) who was getting ready to enter the ranks of the impartial jurists was not a member of the organized commonalty but was a member of the open areas (akasa) whose residents were more independent than the members of organized social groups of the organized commonalty. He was an expert in all occupations and duties and had already experienced all desires and pleasures and tastes. In other words he was in the stage of a monk who had gone through all that worldly life (sarvam idam) as a married man offered. He is not a spokesman of any group. He is not dependent on any group.
The teacher agrees that the soul within ones heart is smaller than a grain of rice or barley or mustard or millet or even of its kernel. But this minute soul is greater than all the social worlds (lokas) the commonalty (prthvi), the frontier society (antariksham) and the patriciate (divam). (C.U.3-14-2,3)
The jurist (Brahma) is a social leader (purusha) who has performed all occupations, gone through all desires and experienced all pleasures and represents all. But he does not speak for them nor is he dependent on them. He goes by the conscience (atma) in his heart and he is fit to become the chief of the impartial judiciary, Brahman. After his present tenure as a social leader he will enter that judiciary. The teacher says that one who believes this will have no more doubts. He says that this was what his teacher, Sandilya, used to say.
[The sceptics were thus silenced.] [The annotator of later times says that according to Sandilya the individual soul and the supreme Brahman are the same. The Absolute is that from which all living beings are born, to which they return and by which they live. Mans next life depends on what he does in this life. Mans objective has to be union with that Self. The Atman is both the transcendent and the immanent.] (C.U.3-14-4) Badarayana endorses the Sandilya doctrine as pointed out above. (sambhrtidyuvyaptyapi cata 3-3-23)
Thibaut interprets the (important) formula (3-3-24) as And as the record of others (viz. the Taittiriya) is not such as in the purusha-vidya (of the Chhandogya, the two purusha-vidyas are not to be combined). This formula requires an intensive scrutiny. This commentator distinguishes between the concept of purusha as given in the Rahasya-Brahmana of the Chhandogya where man-sacrifice (purusha-medha) is described and the one in the passage in the Taittiriya Aranyaka. We would however draw the attention of the reader what the sages of the two Upanishads, Chhandogya and Taittiriya understood by this term, purusha.
The teacher of the Chhandogya Upanishad treats the five personages (purushas) who are designated as Aditya, Chandra, Agni, Parjanya and Vayu in accordance with the provisions of the socio-political constitution, Brahma, as the doorkeepers of the social world of nobles (svargaloka). He says that in the family or clan (kula) of a person who has functioned as an official in one of these five posts and who admitted only eligible persons to the fold of the patriciate, a warrior (vira) would be born. He himself would be admitted as a member to the nobility. (C.U.3-13-6) (Vide Ch.35 of this work on the Allegory of the Honey-comb.)
The teacher says that the light (jyoti), which shines above this social world of nobles (divam), above the larger society (visva), above all, in the highest social worlds above which there is no social world (loka), is the same as the light (jyoti) in this personage (purusha). In the paradigm of social stratification of the Vedic times, the patriciate (devas) was not the highest stratum. There were intellectuals and guides, jyotis, who were superior to all social cadres. The social leader (purusha) who has functioned in the five posts mentioned in the previous verse and has been declared to be eligible to be admitted to the cadre of nobles as a high officer of the judiciary (Brahma) has got the traits of such a learned guide (jyoti)
These guides (jyotis) were superior to the Vedic scholars, nobles (devas) and sages (rshis). One who has reached this level becomes a charismatic figure and is seen and heard by all (C.U. 3-13-8). The status of an enlightener, jyoti was higher than those of all other social cadres but it was marginally lower than that of the chief of the judiciary, Brahma, who interpreted the socio-political constitution. This status was assigned to a personage (purusha) who was on the threshold of the cadre of these judges (Brahma).
This purusha had earlier got trained in the posts of all the five officials who selected and admitted the eligible aspirants to the fold of the cultural aristocracy. It may be also noted that the personage (purusha) who held the position of Agni, Aditya, Soma, Parjanya or Vayu was only at the threshold of the nobility (divam) and was not its full member. This personage had risen from the commonalty.
The teacher draws the attention of his students to the statement, All this is Brahma (sarvam idam Brahma). He asks them to calmly meditate on it, that is, think of the implications of this statement. The teacher was dealing with the calibre of the members of the judiciary Brahma. Why was a social leader, purusha, finding it difficult to gain entry to it despite his immense popularity? A social leader (purusha) is a talented person and has a plan and purpose (kratu). He is committed to a cause and represents certain interests. But an intellectual who is a member of the judiciary (Brahma) has no such purpose and is not committed to any cause.
The teacher of the Chhandogya Upanishad does not denounce the traits and limitations of the cadre of social leaders who have definite interests. He permits them to pursue those interests but cautions that such persons would not be eligible to enter other cadres on the completion of their present tenures as representatives and leaders. He would advise the leader (purusha) to draw a plan of action that would help him to rise in the social ladder and not be merely a spokesman and promoter of the interests of the groups he is attached to. The enigma behind this verse and this section has to be thus resolved rationally. (C.U. 3-14-1)
The poet-sage of the Taittiriya Upanishad 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 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. 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. (T.U. 1-6-1) (Vide Ch.27 of this work for a critical appreciation of this convocation address.)
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). The concept, food (anna), leads to the concept, the social leader (purusha) who makes it available for all. It is not advisable to treat Brahman as identical with Purusha.
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. (T.U. 2-1)
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. Among the discrete individuals (bhutas), especially of the social periphery, the foremost concern (jyeshta) is the securing of food (anna). Hence catering to the food needs of the individuals is the panacea for all socio-economic ills, the teacher counsels.
He was addressing his students of the state academy on their graduation. He calls upon his trainees to recognize, 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 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) 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 socio-political constitution recommended by Urukrama and the Brahmavadis gave priority to the rehabilitation of the alienated sections of the commonalty.]
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 a 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.
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.
The scholar who is happy (anandam) 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.
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. This statuette of the purusha, the Vedic social polity, stands on the pedestal, the social world of legislators known as Mahaloka. (T.U. 2-4) The teacher would advise his student of the royal academy not to waver from what the legislators had pronounced.
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. 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.
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 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). 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 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) Badarayana was aware of these distinct approaches.
Badarayana was drawing attention to the elaborate allegory of purusha statuettes when he referred to purusha-vidya rather than to purusha-medha sacrifice as described in the Aranyakas and Brahmanas. The approaches regarding purusha varied from one Upanishad to another though he recommended a common approach while interpreting the term, Brahma. (purushavidyayamiva ca itaraesham anamnanat 3-3-24)
Thibaut interprets the next statement (3-3-25) as Because the matter (of certain mantras) such as piercing and so on is different (from the matter of the approximate vidyas the former have not to be combined with the latter). The commentator is unable to bring out what was meant by the term, vedha. It is not sound to give the impression that Badarayana was referring to the mantras of Atharvaveda (and its subsidiaries) and allied disciplines (which dealt with secret methods of domination over nature and men). Badarayana was referring to the objective that a trained social leader (purusha) should have.
The teacher of Mundaka Upanishad which deals with the training of the members of the high judiciary, Brahma, describes the personage who holds the position of Brahma on a permanent (akshara) tenure, as one who is shining (archimat) and who is subtler (anu) than the subtle. (He might have been known as Archi, one of the twelve administrators, Adityas.)
All the social worlds or strata (lokas) and their members (lokina) were under the jurisdiction of this constitution and the personage holding this post. He represented the interests of all the beings (pranas) who were at the bare existence level and was their spokesman (vak) and thought for them (was their mind). This was the position in accordance with the code based on the principle of truth (satya). He belonged to the ranks of the aristocracy (amrtam). The teacher asked his student to know this aspect and feature of the concept of Brahma. It had to be aimed at. (For, the student was expected to become a member of this constitution bench that would be presided over by Brahma). (Mu.U.2-2-2) (Vide Ch.25 of this work on the Message of the monks on Brahma-vidya.)
The teacher calls upon his pupil to treat the counsel contained in the Upanishad as a great weapon like a bow and fit in it the arrow honed by concentration. He must draw it with a mind (cetasa, thought) engaged in contemplating the concept (of Brahma), the target (lakshya) being the acquisition of that undecaying (akshara) knowledge. The teacher asks him to know how to attain his goal. (M.U.2-2-3)
He compares the pranava, the alphabet (akshara), aum, whose sound reverberates in the cosmos for ever undecaying (akshara) when once uttered, to the bow. The individual with an identity (atma) is compared to the arrow. This atma has to reach the target, which is the status of Brahma (the highest position in the social polity as the guardian of its constitution). The target has to be hit without mistake. Thus one obtains the trait of the arrow, which is fitted in the bow (which has been compared to the counsel of the Upanishad). (Mu.U.2-2-4)
The concept, Brahma, covers all the three organized social worlds, the patriciate (dyau), the agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi), and the frontier society of the forests and mountains (antariksham), which follows industrial economy. It also covers the thinkers (mana) who unlike the members of these three social worlds are not bound by social and economic codes and traditions.
It covers also all those individuals who are at the bare existence level (sarva prani) and are not viewed as members of any socio-economic body. The teacher advises the student to know only the personage occupying the position of Brahma as what he should become, as his atma, as the identity that he should have. He should be free (vimuncha) from speaking in any other capacity.
In other words, he should as a member of the highest judiciary upholding the socio-political constitution function as an individual representing the entire society, its organized sections, and the individuals who are not members of those sections and the free thinkers. He should not be the spokesman of any particular section or pursue his own interests. This officer of the judiciary (brahma) has a status that is a bridge (setu) to cultural aristocracy (amrta). (Mu.U.2-2-5) The trained social leader aims at reaching that level and exercising the powers and performs the duties associated with that status. This aspect is brought out as there is a significant difference between the concept of Brahman as outlined by Sandilya and the concept of Purusha as described in Taittiriya Upanishad. (Vedhadi arthabhedat 3-3-25)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-3-26) as Where the getting rid (of good and evil) is mentioned (the obtaining of the good and evil by others has to be added) because the statement about the obtaining is supplementary (to the statement about the getting rid of) as in the case of the kusas, the metres, the praise and the singing. This (i.e. the reason for this) has been stated (in the Purva Mimamsa).
The statement about the means to be employed to obtain the gains that are meaningful through honing ones talents and by succeeding in reaching the target and achieving the target had in mind while setting forth on ones mission is incomplete. The rest of that formula helps one to be free from the attachments, which one may develop to his objective and thus be truly objective. The teacher or the student who spreads the grass chants the formulas while praising his benefactor and sings the epilogue that mentions the appropriate methods used as specified.
The commentator refers to a statement in the Mundaka Upanishad, which is connected with the training of the intellectual who was expected to soon occupy his position in the high judiciary, Brahma. A teacher points out to his student two birds sitting on a tree. They were companions and were always united. One of them ate the sweet fruit while the other looked on without eating (Mu.U.3-1-1). A person (a social leader, purusha) who was immersed (in sorrows and disappointment) and was deluded and grieving on account of his helplessness was sitting on the same tree.
When he saw the other bird, who was an isa, one who was satisfied with seeing that the wishes and desires of others were fulfilled, and his magnanimity (mahima), he became freed from sorrow. In other words the social leader (purusha) who had got disillusioned got a new direction and encouragement when he realized that happiness lay in seeing others happy and satisfied. This was the trait of the charismatic leader (isa) of the social periphery (parisha) whose members were born as individuals free to act on their own (svajata). (Mu.U.3-1-2)
When an observer (of the above transformation in the mood of that social leader, purusha) sees (and recognizes the change that has come over in the mood of) the executive (karta) who belongs to the class (varna) of bright guerdon (rukma) he becomes equal to the highest person. That executive could become a benevolent charismatic leader (isa purusha) and enter a stratum from which the jurist (Brahma) is drawn.
One can reach the highest cadre (judiciary) or become equal to a member of that cadre only when he has learnt the meaning of the relation between the two birds and the transformation in the mood of the despondent leader. He shakes off the effects of merits and demerits, punya and papa, and becomes free from stains. He learns to be stoical like the bird, which silently watched its companion enjoy the sweet fruit. (Mu.U.3-1-3) (Vide Ch.25 of this work on the Message of the monka on Brahma-vidya, social constitution of the Vedic times)
The commentator while trying to explain the meaning of the phrase, shaking off all evil refers to Chhandogya Upanishad (8-13). The individual has been gradually made perfect (krtatma) in the academy (Brahma-loka), which is a voluntary assemblage (akrta) of scholars. (Vide Ch.44 on the Academy of Scholars, Brahma-loka.) This is compared to a dark sheet getting spots or a spotted (stained) sheet becoming dark. One shakes off his sins even as a horse shakes its hair. The shedding of ignorance during the process of education in the academy is compared to a moon coming out of the mouth of Rahu (an evil planet) as the eclipse is over. (hanau tu upayana sabdaseshatvat kusa chhanda stuti upaganavat tad uktam B.S.3-3-26)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-3-27) as, At the (moment of) departing (he frees himself from his works), there being nothing to be reached (by him, on the way to Brahman, through those works); for thus others (declare in their sacred texts).
As the student leaves the academy of scholars he has no higher personal goal to be reached. This is the view of other scholars. Some have interpreted this statement as, For when the man possessing true knowledge has departed from the body and is, through his knowledge, about to reach Brahman, there exists nothing to be reached by him on the way through his good and evil works, and we therefore have no reason to assume the latter to remain un-effaced during a certain number of moments. This interpretation fails to note that this formula implies that the highest training a social leader can receive is possible only in that academy. It makes him stay stoical at all times. (samparaye tartavya abhavat tatha hi anye B.S.3-3-27)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-3-28) as And because (on the above interpretation) there is no contradiction to both (i.e. mans making an effort to free himself from his deeds and actually freeing himself), according to his liking. Badarayana clarified that in the social constitution, Brahma, that he had outlined there was no clause that was against the right of the individual to act as he pleased. (chandata ubhaya avirodhat 3-3-28)
The commentator interprets the next formula (3-3-29) as A purpose has to be attributed to the going (on the path of the gods) in a twofold manner; otherwise there would be contradiction of scripture. It is not sound to claim that absence of choice between the two paths, northern and southern, is contradictory to scripture.
It would be contradictory to the provisions of the new social constitution, Brahma, which Badarayana had outlined. One might follow the traditional path that the senior citizens who had retired to the forest advocated and return to ones original position in his family and social group and implement the teachings of those elders, reifying the traditional practices, kuladharmas and jatidharmas. This is known as pitryana. Or one might improve his personal talents and rise to higher levels in the social hierarchy including the judiciary and the intellectual and cultural aristocracy and remain uninfluenced by the orientations of the commonalty. This path is known as the path of the nobles, devayana.
Every individual was given freedom to choose between the two. Even after staying with that aristocracy the social leader (purusha) may opt to return to the commonalty from which he had risen. Badarayana was explaining that his code had not closed any path. One who went to the forest might stay there as a senior citizen not interested in worldly activities any more or return to his original position in his family. Similarly one who joined the governing elite or the judiciary and the intellectual aristocracy might return to the commonalty to lead it to higher levels of culture and civilisation. (gati arthatvam ubhayatha anyatha hi virodha B.S.3-3-29)