Thibaut explains the next formula (3-4-33) as And through the cooperativeness (of the works towards the origination of knowledge).
The Vipras often moved about in a group of three and each of them was a specialist in one of the three Vedas. This formula recognizes such groups and collective action in the performance of sacrifices by their hosts and cooperating endeavours in earning their livelihood.
Of course, they had to perform tapas, (meditation in common parlance) for discovering new concepts, methods and tools. They could perform the acts connected with these as a group. They could also accept gifts as a group. It is seen that the commentators of the medieval times were aware of the activities of these small groups of scholars who were not part of formal schools but were engaged in educating the masses without discriminating among their hosts on the basis of their classes or vocations.
In Isopanishad we find that some thinkers looked askance at such scholars. Sukra (Kavi) had of his own accord defined the pursuits of the different individuals and social sectors, according to the teacher. He placed severe restraints on the rights of the individuals. The teacher points out that while assigning the individuals according to their personal traits to different functions and means of livelihood, those persons who follow vocations that do not require formal schooling (avidya) are visualized as entering blinding darkness (tamas). In other words they are treated as ignorant persons and assigned to classes marked by the trait, tamas. (Vide Ch.48 of this work for a critical appreciation of Isa Upanishad.)
The teacher of Isopanishad adds that those persons who are proud of their studies, vidya, and delight in theoretical studies (and do not apply their knowledge to constructive works) would be assigned to classes marked by inertness (tamas). He was bringing to the notice of his students the principle adopted by Kavi (Sukra) to ensure that talented and constructive thinkers and scholars were rewarded and not the uneducated or pedants. (I.U.9)
The social periphery had scholars who did not contribute anything to social welfare and progress. They formed a counter-intelligentsia. The interpretation that the Upanishad repudiates both schools of thought, those who hold that salvation is attained only by means of works and also those who hold that it is to be attained by knowledge alone is not precise enough. This verse cannot be interpreted as but advocating a combination of knowledge and works. The remark that according to this verse, the unenlightened person, in striving for a superior result, should combine action (rituals) with meditation on a devata (deity) is unacceptable. The teacher was not involved in the issue of which path was the best, Karmayoga or Jnanayoga or Bhaktiyoga.
The teacher does not appear to endorse the approach of Kavi (Sukra) with respect to the pedants. He pointed out that scholars held the result (benefit) accruing from formal education (vidya) to be different from the result accruing from non-formal education (avidya). He was not treating the two terms as meaning knowledge and ignorance or as spiritual knowledge and non-spiritual knowledge. He was not for assigning either group to the classes marked by ignorance and inertness (tamas). He was drawing attention to what he and others had heard as explained by the wise (dhira) who could discriminate correctly between good and bad. (I.U.10)
The teacher would stand by the traditional approach with respect to vidya and avidya and their effects. According to this approach both formal education (vidya) and non-formal education (avidya) are helpful. Non-formal education (avidya) helps one to cross the river or stage of insentience (mrtyu). Only those who are yet at that stage deserve to be treated as being characterized by ignorance and inertness (tamas). The teacher distinguishes between the non-formal education (avidya) that was available to the commoners who were inert (tamas) and the lack of knowledge that marked the lives of those who were insentient (mrtyu). Formal education (vidya) however aids one to attain the abiding status of intellectual and cultural aristocracy (amrtam). (I.U.11) The teacher rejected the argument that both avidya and vidya are to be faulted.
He then took up the argument that both pursuit of the views of the individuals who are not organized as a collectivity (asambhuti) and pursuit of the views of the collectivity (sambhuti) are to be faulted. The latter is characterized by greater ignorance (tamas) than the former, according to this view of the school of Kavi. (I.U.12)
The translation, Into blinding darkness enter those who worship the unmanifest and into still greater darkness those who delight in the unmanifest does not bring out the stand of the scholars who were suspicious both of the rights and will of the individuals and of the will of the collectivity. The latter could be assessed and not the former. But often the masses delighting in functioning as an undifferentiated collectivity tend to be highly inert. The former, that is, those who function as individuals are ignorant of the consequences of their activities.
The school of Kavi (Sukra) entertained reservations about both rash individualism and collective inertia. Sukra was dealing with the issue of the individuals (atma) in the organized sectors identifying themselves with the individuals in the unorganized social periphery. He intended to ward off the impact of such identification on the state that tended to run roughshod over the interests of those persons who were not part of the organized native social polity, janapada.
The teacher again draws attention to the conventional considered stand that the outcome of collective life and action (sambhava) is distinct from the outcome of non-collective isolated life and action (asambhava) (I.U.13). The teacher was pointing out the weakness in the objection raised by the school of Kavi in the previous verse. It is not proper to introduce theology in this discussion. The teacher after drawing attention to the traditional approach that was almost contradicted by the stand taken by the school of Kavi (Sukra) proposed a rational solution to the issue (I.U.14).
One must know both what constitutes the view and need of the collectivity (sambhuti) and what will result in the widespread weakening and destruction (vinasam) of that will and their results. As one learns both, one crosses the limits imposed by social bonds that are characteristic of the commonalty (mrtyu) and attains the level of the cultural and intellectual aristocracy (amrtam).
What the Kenopanishad (4-8) says has a note different from what the commentator has presumed. The build-up to that stand needs to be traced correctly. The teacher is asked to explain the significance of the concept, adhyatma, the essential individual who is not bound by attachment to any social group. [The concept, adhyatmam, is often treated as the antonym of the concept, adhidaivatam.] The thinker (mind, manas) tends to move faultlessly towards attaining the status of such an individual, which the Brahman is. The thinker remembers this aspect while pursuing relentlessly the desired high goal (abhikshnam) he has resolved on (samkalpa). (Ke.U.4-5) (Vide Ch.31 of this work for the views of Kena Upanishad, on the new social constitution and Brahma.)
Uma was explaining to Indra the stand that the school of Mahadeva had taken when it instituted the post of Brahman as one vested with the authority as adhidaivatam, to oversee the functions of all the officials (devatas) of the larger society and to represent as adhyatma, the essential free individual who could not be faulted, and make the thinkers constantly remember their commitment. Hence Brhaspati as an Atharvan or a Brahman, was superior to Indra.
The teacher told his students that the yaksha (the plutocrat) who held the position of Brahman was known and honoured by his name, Tadvana (that mystic abode as translated by some commentators). All the individuals of the social periphery (bhutas) who knew this desired to be associated with him (Ke.U.4-6). This was the secret counsel about the identity of the Brahman that the teacher gave his pupils (4-7).
The concept of Brahma (the constitution) stands on the pedestal of exertion to know the yet unknown facts of nature (tapas), self-restraint (dama) and performance of duties (karma). The Vedas constitute all its organs (anga). The principle of truth (satya) is compared to the abode where (the statue of) Brahma is kept (Ke.U.4-8). The teacher was dealing with the issue of the relation between the constitution, Brahma and the code based on the principle of truth, satya, which held sway during the later Vedic era. (Sahakaritvena ca B.S.3-4-33)
Thibaut translates the next formula (3-4-34) as In any case the same (duties have to be performed) on account of the twofold indicatory marks. The interpretation that in any case, whether as duties incumbent on the asramas or as co-operating with knowledge, the very same agnihotra and other duties have to be performed does not seem sound.
All the duties prescribed for the asrama concerned have to be performed by the person initiated in and completing the formal education under a recognized teacher, whether he opts to enter the way of life of a householder soon or not and whenever he opts to adopt the ways of life of a vipra, a wandering teacher, and whether he opts to move about alone or in a group of similar vipras. The associated marks, which the Vipra had to wear, would indicate the class (varna) to which he was assigned and the asrama stage he was in. This would distinguish him from the Vratya who was later said to be an apostate. (Sarvatha api ta eva ubhayalingat 3-4-34).
The commentator interprets the next formula (3-4-35) as, And scripture also declares that (those performing works) are not overpowered (by passion and the like).
In Chhandogya Upanishad where Narada explains to the Vipra that what people call sacrifice (yajna) is in fact the stage of life known as period of education (brahmacharya) (when one observes celibacy and self-denial). Only by going through this stage of life, a learned person (one who knows, jnata) gets entry into that academy of scholars, Brahma-loka. What people call as ones chosen path of self-denial and sacrifice (that may not be questioned by others) (ishtam), is what is meant as the (disciplined) life of a student (brahmacharya). Only by personally choosing this life (by voluntarily forgoing the other three stages of life) one may enter this academy (C.U.8-5-1). (Vide Ch 44 of this work on Naradas interpretation of the Academy of Scholars, Brahma-loka.)
What is called as the period of collective life of classmates (in a dormitory) (sattrayana) is what is meant by the disciplined life of a student. By this period of disciplined life as a student the true individual (sata atma, one who is not under the discipline of his family or community) gets the (needed) protection. [In other words, he does not fall prey to evil ways.] While maintaining silence (maunam), a requisite for this life of a disciplined student, he meditates and learns by himself, the supplementary discipline (anuvidya). Thus the teacher explains the major characteristics of the life of a brahmachari. (C.U.8-5-2) Badarayana points out to his students which passages in the Upanishads help one to remain unovercome by their weaknesses and by the teachings of the detractors. (anabhibhavam ca darsayati B.S.3-4-35)
The commentator translates the next formula (3-4-36) as, But also (persons standing) between (are qualified for knowledge) for that is seen (in scripture). Badarayana points out that the new code, which has classified the larger population and institutionalised the duties one has to perform in accordance with his class and stage of life recognizes that all do not fit perfectly in those classes or are only in the prescribed stage of life. Who fall in intermediate classes or are in intermediate stages has been shown in the new code, Brahma. Hence the social administrators need not be bewildered or be in a dilemma on how to treat them. (antara ca api tad drshte B.S.3-4-36)
The next epigram might have been interpolated to defend Manusmrti and other Smrtis which have introduced the concepts of mixed classes samkaravarnas and rules of exigency, apaddharma. (api ca smaryate B.S.3-4-37)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (3-4-38), as And the promotion (of knowledge is bestowed on them) through special acts. This interpretation cannot be drawn logically. Badarayana points out that the new code does grant special benefits to some sections in certain classes or stages of life. Statements like there is no contradiction in admitting qualification for knowledge on the part of widowers and the like do not meet the import of this formula. (Visesha anugraha ca B.S.3-4-38)
Thibaut translates the next formula (3-4-39) as, Better than this is the other (state of belongng to an asrama) on account of the indicatory marks. Badarayana however does not prefer creating special cadres who would be on the threshold of a major class like Brahmans and Kshatriyas and would be permitted to enjoy the special benefits without being absorbed in that class. He would recommend their being admitted to the class concerned but required to wear marks indicating that they were on probation. (atastitvatarjjyayo lingat ca B.S.3-4-39)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-4-40) as, But of him who has become that (i.e. entered on a higher asrama) there is no becoming not that (i.e. descending to a lower one), according to Jaimini also, on account of restrictive rule, absence of such like (i.e. statements of descent), and non-existence (of good custom). The commentator notes that the issue discussed here was whether one who had entered a stage of life for which chastity or celibacy was obligatory could rescind it and yet not fall in social esteem.
This formula pertained to the discrete individual (bhuta) of the social periphery who had been admitted to one of the four social classes though unlike the practice among the commonalty of the agro-pastoral core society, was not born in a family that had been approved as belonging to such a class. He was admitted to that class because of his natural trait (bhava) (sattva or rajas or tamas) on the condition that this admission was only for him and not for the other members of his family and would be valid only for the period for which he observed the rules pertaining to his class (varna) and stage of life (asrama). The social periphery lacked the organisational structure (rupa) of society based on varnasrama orientation. The latter had set rules for assigning or depriving an individual of his status and the privileges associated with it. Badarayana agreed with Jaimini on this point. (tatbhutasya tu tadbhavo Jaimini api niyamat tad rupa abhavebhya B.S.3-4-40)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (3-4-41) as And not also (can the expiation take place) prescribed in the chapter treating of qualification, because on account of his lapse from Smrti he (the Naishthika) is not capable of it. Badarayana was dealing with the conduct of Vipras and Vratyas who belonged neither to the organized core society nor to the unorganised social periphery. If it is inferred that he has fallen from his status as an honest and pure Brahman or Kshatriya there was no chapter in the new code, resort to the provisions of which could restore him his status. He would be forever declared unfit for the class and stage to which he was admitted.
Rules of expiation were only for members of the core society who were under the disciplinary control of their families, clans and communities. The state could not handle these rules of expiation, which belonged to the field of social laws rather than to that of economic laws or civic laws, which came under the jurisdiction of the state. State did not have jurisdiction over the social periphery. (na ca adhikarikam api patana anumanat tad ayogat B.S.3-4-41)
The commentator explains the next formula (3-4-42) as But some (consider the sin) a minor one, (and hence claim) the existence (of expiation for the Naishthika also); as in the case of the eating (of unlawful food). This has been explained (in the Purva Mimamsa). Some scholars consider that the traits of one who has fallen in social esteem because of his eating prohibited food are mentioned in the supplementary rules and the expiation for those acts. Badarayana had not prohibited the students in his academy from eating any particular type of food. But he could not have his way in full.
He had to include the expiatory rules in the code so that the students from the periphery were not denied access to educational courses for which they were otherwise eligible. They were to be distinguished from the Vratyas who refused to accept any provision of the varnasrama code and the Vipras who were often not particular about adhering to those provisions, as they had to be constantly on the move. The commentators have missed this note. (upapurvam api tu eke bhavam asanavat tad uktam B.S.3-4-42)
The commentator translates the next formula (3-4-43) as But (they are to be kept outside) in either case; on account of Smrti and custom.
This sutra must have been a later interpolation to justify the prescriptions in the Smrtis and the practices that had newly sprung up excluding from sacramental rites and privileges the discrete individuals, bhutas, on the social periphery and the non-conformists, Vratyas, many of whom were well-meaning scholars who however failed to observe the code especially of celibacy and the rules regarding food to be eaten. (bahistu ubhayatha api smrte acarat ca 3-4-43)
Thibaut explains the next formula (3-4-44) as To the lord (of the sacrifice) only (the agentship in meditations belongs), because scripture declares a fruit; this is the view of Atreya.
It would appear that the priests who were officiating at a sacrifice conducted by a person, need not be worried if the host was not entitled to perform that sacrifice. The fruits, good or bad, would belong to the host. The priest is advised to adopt a stoical, rather, an indifferent attitude while officiating at that sacrifice. Many rich hosts were not pure in their habits and life and had purposes that were not honourable. (Vide Ch.49 of this work for a discussion on the shortcoming noticed in the new scheme of allocation of duties and the recommendations of the school of Atri with respect to correcting it.)
The officials working for them may be pure in their personal lives but might be required to resort to methods that were not permitted or were of doubtful nature according to ethics. Yet they had to set aside their dilemma (samghata) and carry out their duties so that their masters (svami) benefited. (svamina phala srute iti Atreya B.S.3-4-44)
Thibaut translates the next formula (3-4-45) as, (They are) the work of the priest, this is the view of Audulomi; since for that (i.e. the entire sacrificial work) he is the feed. Unlike Atreya, Audulomi does not exonerate the officials of the bureaucracy for the faults committed while carrying out the duties assigned to them by the master who was a rich and charismatic figure and dare not be disobeyed. The onus for not providing all with their share of food and other necessities as they went about performing their duties had to be borne by these officials though they were working for a master (svami). (Artivajyam iti Audulomi tasmai hi parikriyate 3-4-45)
Thibaut says (3-4-46) that Badarayana defends his position saying And on account of scriptural statement. Badarayana had declared on the basis of the Vedas that both the host and the priests, that is, the ruler and his officials, were obliged to share the responsibility for the steps to be taken to meet the requirements of all the sections of the population. Neither the ruler nor the officials, neither the host nor the priests could seek to remain free from the blame for the bad results of an action. The commentator was off the mark when he tried to interpret Chhandogya Upanishad (1-7-8,9) as meaning that the fruits of the work done by the Rtvij priest belonged to the host for whom he officiated. The meanings of these passages were deep and significant for the polity of the core society. (Vide Ch.32 of this work on the Message in the Chants and Aum.)
The teacher says that a scholar who knows the implications of the two terms, adhidaivata and adhyatma, sings in his Sama chants paeans to both personages (purushas). Through the former he reaches the levels of those who are superior to the cadre of nobles. Through the latter he sinks to the level of those commoners (manushyas) who are free from all social bonds (and who are wrongly perceived as poor wandering minstrels with no wealth). (1-1-7,8)
Hence the priest who chants aloud the Udgitha, that is, the syllable, Aum, should ask the person for whom he officiates as a priest at the sacrifice what desire of his he expected the priest to win for him. Did that person desire to be a free person with no social bonds and with no economic interests and with no wealth except inner peace? Or did he desire to be away from the jurisdiction of the social worlds (maha, jana, tapas and satya, legislature, representatives of the people, academy of thinkers and the judiciary) being above them as an intellectual-cum-jurist (Brahma)? The Udgatha priest can help him to get his desire fulfilled through the chanting of the Saman. (C.U. 1-7-9) (Srute ca B.S.3-4-46)
Thibaut explains the formula (3-4-47) as, There is the injunction of something else co-operating (towards knowledge which is) a third thing (with regard to balya and pandita, which injunction is given) for the case (of perfect knowledge not yet having risen) to him who is such (i.e. the Samnyasin possessing knowledge), as in the case of injunctions and the like. The husband and the wife are required by the rules of procedure to perform the sacrificial act and should thereafter proceed to take over the third stage of life, vanaprastha.
This simple instruction has been unnecessarily interpreted by some implying that a widower or one who was separated from his spouse was not entitled to perform any religious rite. The entire discussion whether there was any stage of life, which was in between innocent childhood and learned age that could be treated as equally venerable is unwarranted. (Manusmrti validates such a middle stage.) All social activities have to be co-operative endeavours. Only this much is said. (sahakaryantaravidhi pakshena trutiyam tadvato vidhyat ivat B.S.3-4-47)
Thibaut reads the next formula 3-4-48 as On account of his being all, however, there is winding up with the householder. Badarayana insists that on having fulfilled all his duties that are of a constructive nature, a householder should destroy all his desires and proceed to the forest abode, the third stage in life. (krtsna bhavat tu gruhina upasamhara 3-4-48)
Thibaut translates the statement (3-4-49) as On account of there being injunction of the others also, in the same way as of the state of a muni. The code gives counsel on the code of conduct of the vanaprastha which stage of life a muni who is reticent on issues of which he has no definite views or of which he is not fully conversant with. He does not take sides on any issue. This counsel is applicable to the Brahmacharis who were celibates and functioned alone and Grhasthas, householders who functioned as husband and wife. Of course the samnyasis, monks, are required to conduct themselves like the reticent vanaprasthas. (maunavat itaresham api upadesat 3-4-49)
The commentator reads the next formula (3-4-50) as (The passage enjoining balya means that the ascetic is to live) not manifesting himself; on account of the connexion (thus gained for the passage). The muni, the reticent elder who has entered vanaprastha asrama is advsed not to perform any unnecessary duty. He is required to remain anonymous. Badarayana would advocate that others too should remain so. Nothing beyond this simple counsel may be read here. (anavishkurvan na anvayat. 3-4-50)
Thibaut reads the next formula (3-5-51) as In this life also (the origination of knowledge takes place) if there is no obstruction of what is ready at hand; on account of this being seen (in scripture). The student wondered whether Badarayana imposed a ban on his rising to present his opinion. The teacher says that he did not mean to do so, as the student rising up to get his doubt there (in the academy) itself indicated that there was no ban. He had meant that one should remain humble and not flaunt his wealth or knowledge. The discussion on the origination of knowledge is irrelevant and unwarranted. (aihikam api aprastut apratibandhe tad darsanat B.S.3-4-51)
Thbaut translates the last formula (3-4-52) of this section, as No such definite rule (exists) as to the fruit which is release, on account of the assertions as to that condition, on account of the assertions as to that condition. This section began with a note on the purpose that a dynamic and trained social leader (purusha) was to pursue. Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are said to be the four objectives of man. These are translated as performance of duties in accordance with the Dharmasastra, acquisition of wealth in accordance with Arthasastra, experiencing of fulfilment of sexual and other desires (kama) and release from all social attachments. The teacher says that there are no definite rules describing how one can through activities obtain fruits that would imply total discharge from all obligations to the social bodies of which he has been a member.
In Mundaka Upanishad the teacher explains that the sages who had ascertained well (given authoritative stands on) the meaning of the science (vijnana) of Vedanta and have purified (suddha) their nature (sattva) by striving along the duties and functions (yoga) prescribed for the stage of renunciation (samnyasa) become members of the high academy (Brahmaloka). At the end of their career (anta kala) there they are constituted into the higher aristocracy (para-amrta). They are all freed from their circumscribing duties (pramuchyata) when they reach that stage. (Mu.U.3-2-6) (Vide Ch.25 on the Message of the Monks on Brahma-vidya.)
There is no need to postulate that true knowledge cannot be distinguished as being lower or higher. What does not aid one to secure total freedom from the cycle of births and obligation to try again to become a perfect man cannot be construed as true knowledge. The teacher had to explain to his students whether they were expected to go through the four stages of life, brahmacharya when one had to be a celibate, grhastha when one was permitted to get his desires (kama) fulfilled, vanaprastha when he was free from duties to his kith and kin and samnyasa when he would be preparing himself for total separation from duties to himself and his society.
The teacher envisages a cultural aristocracy that was superior to the intellectual aristocracy (brahma-loka), which was superior to the governing elite of nobles (devas). It was only after they had attained the level of that higher cultural aristocracy the sages most of whom were in the stage of vanaprastha could be freed from their duties to their socio-physical environment. (evam muktiphala niyama tad avasthadhrte tad avasthadhrte B.S.3-4-52)