CHAPTER 4 SECTION 2
Thibaut translates the first formula of this section as Speech (is merged) in mind, on account of this being seen and of the scriptural statement. The teacher says that what one utters has its base in his mind. This has been demonstrated and is also noted in the Chhandogya Upanishad. The commentator is off the mark when he said that this is indicated when one is not able to speak out at the time of his death what is in his mind. He refers to (C.U.6-6-1). The counsel given by Uddalaka to his son, Svetaketu has to be presented in a rational frame.
Uddalaka points out that when curd is churned, the subtle part moves upwards and becomes butter. Similarly when all members of the society are enabled to obtain food (anna) and survive, the best of them become thinkers (manas). Among the intellectuals who are on the move the ones who are subtle rise high. Of the brilliance (tejas) that is absorbed, the more brilliant is visible. The best of the brilliant and influential persons are fit to be counsellors. In short, the best persons in the society become thinkers (mind), intellectuals (breath) and counsellors (speech). Svetaketu requested Uddalaka to instruct him further on this theme of social ascent of the intellectual and Uddalaka agreed to teach him (C.U.6-6-1 to 4). (Vide Ch.41 and 42 of this work for an analysis of Uddalakas instruction to Svetaketu.)
Another commentator refers to the passage (C.U.6-8-6). This too needs to be interpreted rationally. The search for the root of every offshoot is not to be given up. That is, the student should try to find out the course of social evolution by delving deep to identify from which lower social stratum a higher one emerges. The intellectuals on the move (like water) have emerged from the commonalty that is dependent on mundane needs like food. These intellectuals get inspiration from the brilliant guides (tejas) who belong to the intellectual aristocracy and seek to get them established there. This intellectual elite desire to rise further in the social ladder and get established (pratishtha) amongst those who abide by the laws based on eternal truth (sat).
Uddalaka had already explained how the three social leaders (purusha) who had the status of devatas a status next only to that of nobles, devas, met the expectations of the three levels of the intelligent, worldly (anna), mobile (apa) and brilliant (tejas). When a social leader (purusha) of the commonalty leaves this field he joins the company of those Vedic scholars (vak) who are thinkers (manas). These thinkers seek to inhale or absorb (prana) whatever concepts they had learnt or arrived at and form their personalities accordingly. As a result they join the ranks of the brilliant guides (tejas). From the ranks of the intellectual elite they rise to join the ranks of the higher cultural aristocracy (devatas). (C.U.6-8-6) (Vang manasi darsanat chandat ca B.s.4-2-1)
Thibaut translates the next phrase (4-2-2) as And for the same reason all (sense-organs follow) after (mind). The commentator draws attention to a statement in Prasna Upanishad.
Prasna Upanishad presents the views of Pippalada who was approached by some scholars from Kosala who wanted their doubts about certain features of the polity cleared. Pippalada was explaining to Kausalya the features of the social polity of the larger society that he envisaged. The policy of rejection of unwanted elements and admission and assimilation of new elements from all areas and through all desirable methods is followed by maintenance of internal balance through equitable distribution of food amongst all resulting in the rise of the seven offerings (sapta archi) in sacrifice. (Vide Ch.45 of this work that brings out Pippaladas views on the Purusha constitution and the role of the Prajapati.)
Pippalada might have meant the honouring of the seven sages or of the heads of the seven organs of the state. The ruler, who was at the heart of this polity, aided and influenced all the sectors of the larger society through its numerous administrative bureaus. This polity provided for their succour. Pippalada provides for rewards and punishments, for social ascent and descent but recognizes that most of the population of the commonalty had both merits and demerits to their account. [It may be noted here that unless we solve the issues pertaining to the social polity we would not be able to provide a rational interpretation of these verses.]
He allows the governing elite, especially Aditya, the head of the military-cum-administration, to deal with the members of the frontier society (bahya), especially those people (prana) who were at the bare subsistence level. Aditya is considerate to them and extends to them benefits. Pippalada says that the nobles (devatas) who had risen from the agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi) were required to herd in, keep together, those sections of the commonalty who had been pushed out by the officers (purusha) of the state. The purushas were on the threshold of the traditional cultural aristocracy, devas, while the devatas were generally plutocrats of the frontier society or its technocrats.
The sage was answering the question on how to support the persons who were not part of the economy of the core society. The wings of the administrative machinery, which were entrusted with the task of maintaining equity and providing food for all (samana) looked after the sections of the population that came under the social world known as antariksham (social horizon) and akasa (open space). The official of the state designated as Vayu conveyed the succour, which the central authority gave, to all sections of the population of the larger society. This measure was known as vyana (P.U.3-8).
The role of the official designated as tejas is correlated to the upward breath, udana. One who ceases to develop his personality and his urge for social and moral ascent has been subordinated, returns to his previous level. Pippalada agrees that the organs of the body (politic) may reach a stage of ineffectiveness and there may be mental fatigue (P.U.3-9).
Acquisition of considered thought (chittam) has to precede ones approaching the level of the representative of the will (prana) of all the sectors of the larger society. As a splendid (tejas) person (one who is trained to function so) representing all, he along with his personal identity (atma) kept intact goes to every social world (loka) that he had planned and resolved to bring into existence. Such planning and resolve (samkalpa) had to precede the decision (chittam) to bring it into reality. (P.U.3-10).
A scholar (vidvan) who knows this role of prana, that is, of representing the will of all the sections of the larger society will be able to become Prajapati and bring under his jurisdiction as subjects (prajas) more people. There will be no lessening in the number of his prajas. He was advised to follow a liberal policy so that more people came under his jurisdiction and none left his fold. Such a Prajapati could become a member of the aristocracy (amrtam) (P.U.3-11).
Pippalada then draws the attention of Kausalya to a popular verse. One gains entry into the fold of the nobility (as an intellectual) if he knows who are the original (utpatti) people of the territory, who have come from abroad (ayata), their statuses and places of settlement (sthana) and the fivefold division of duties among the (five) heads (vibhutis) (of the five organs of the state, amatya, janapada, paura, kosha and danda which together were known as rajyam).
The head of the social polity, Prajapati, must know the relationship between his roles as the representative of the will (prana) of the people of this larger society and as a bare individual (adhyatma) not connected with any social body. In other words he had to rise far above his loyalty to his clan, community etc. and have no personal interests. Only such a Prajapati could be a charismatic figure, the sage suggested. (P.U.3-12) Pippalada was expounding the socio-political approach of Prajapati, Mahadeva described in Atharvaveda Bk.15. (ata eva ca sarvani anu B.S.4-2-2)
The commentator reads the next phrase (4-2-3) as That mind (is merged) in breath, owing to the subsequent clause. The commentators of the medieval times and their adherents of the modern times have not attempted to trace the implications of the term, prana, for social polity. Pippalada had dealt with this theme in detail when he counselled his students on the five sectors of the populace, the living beings, denoted by the term, prana. The commentators refer to (C.U.6-2-4). Uddalaka pointed out to his student that he was not right in assuming that there was nothing in the beginning. In the beginning there was one only (ekam eva) and it had no counterpart or second (advitiyam) (C.U.6-2-2). It had hence to be explained how the non-stratified and classless mass society that was earlier in existence developed into a society full of diversities.
It may be noted that Uddalaka, a Gautama, was dealing with issues pertaining to the roles of social cadres and not with the issues pertaining to soul and body, human soul and divine soul and matter and mind as the philosophers of the medieval times did. That early society (that is, the leaders of that society) desired to become manifold by having many groups under its jurisdiction as subjects (prajaya). For this purpose it formed (srjata) a cadre of brilliant (tejas) persons. This cadre brought into existence many such cadres. This led to the formation of a population dependent on water (apa).
The population dependent on water (apa) wanted to grow by bringing many groups under its jurisdiction as prajas. It ensured that they were all supplied food (anna), the minimum need of all men. Wherever it rained, there was abundant food. It was a stage when irrigation facilities were not yet available. The people had not yet got divided into agriculturists and others. But it was recognized that food and other requirements (annadhyam) of the population could be met only if water-sources were tapped. Economic development could take place only after irrigation facilities were arranged (C.U.6-2-4). Such a concept runs through all the earlier Upanishads, which Badarayana was referring to. (tanmana prana uttarat B.S.4-2-3)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (4-2-4) as That (viz. breath is merged) in the ruler (i.e. the individual soul), on account of the (statement as to the pranas) coming to it and so on. The commentator says, We have ascertained that a thing which has not originated from another is not itself merged in the latter, but only through its functions. A doubt now arises whether, according to the word of the scripture, the function of breath is merged in heat only. He refers to Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (4-3-38) and (4-4-2).
These passages belong to a section where Yajnavalkya taught Janaka how to institute the judiciary (brahma). The jurist, an experienced and aged scholar and social leader (purusha), as he becomes old, lean and weak, gets freed from his bonds (obligations) to the post (anga, organ of the state) he is in. He returns to his original position even as a ripe fruit gets detached from the tree and falls to the ground (B.U. 4-3-36). (Vide Ch.21 of this work for a critical analysis of the discussion between Yajnavalkya and Janaka on the role of a scholarly king as a jurist, Brahma.)
Yajnavalkya expects that the commonalty would welcome this retired judge (Brahma) with respect. He is welcomed even as the policemen (ugras), magistrates dealing with crimes (and having the power to impose death sentence) (pratyenasas), reporters (sutas) and revenue officials of villages (gramani) welcome a king (raja) who comes to their village, with offer of food, drink and lodging. Especially all individuals of the social periphery (sarva bhuta) welcome him. The judge after retirement returns to live as an individual without attachment to any social body including his kith and kin. This stipulation enabled him to function independently and impartially. He is free from social bonds and obligations to the state (B.U.4-3-37).
The retired jurist does not die neglected and unhonoured. When the king leaves the village the policemen, magistrates, reporters and revenue officials of the village gather round to see him off. Similarly all the living persons (especially those at the bare subsistence level) (sarva prana) whether individuals or members of organized groups, whether rich or poor, gather as the jurist lay on his deathbed to see him off (B.U.4-3-38). [The distinction between the expressions, sarva bhutas mentioned in the previous formula and sarva pranas mentioned in this formula is significant. They are not to be translated as all beings and as all breaths.]
When his life departs from his body, all the living persons (pranas) who have gathered round him too leave the scene. He then becomes one identified with vijnana, the knowledge which he has discovered and contributed (to the treasury of knowledge). What leaves is the individual who has this knowledge and not the knowledge itself. The mastery he had acquired over the various disciplines of study (vidyas) and the duties (karmas) he was performing at the time of his death are recorded and so too his earlier status of awareness (prajna) (from which he rose up to become the scholar-jurist). Yajnavalkya wants the contributions of the learned jurist to be remembered (B.U.4-4-2).
Was Yajnavalkya drawing attention to what the soul takes along with it when it leaves one body and enters another? The sage suggests the picture of a leech, which has come to the end of a blade of grass and moves to another. Like that leech the soul leaves this body and also ignorance (avidya) and moves to another drawing to itself all the knowledge and experiences it has gained (B.U.4-4-3). [This unconvincing comparison must have been a later interpolation.] Yajnavalkya was dealing with social ascent of the learned jurist and his retirement to his earliest level of awareness and his last moments. Was it possible for one who had completed his tenure as a judge or had retired as he found that he had yet to learn much to shift to other social positions? He has been faulted for his ignorance (avidya) of certain fields of knowledge.
Badarayana was drawing the attention of his students to how one who presided over a state or its unit or over a bench of the judiciary should conduct himself to merit such honour from his companions and colleagues on his retirement. (sa adhyakshe tad upagama adibhya B.S.4-2-4)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (4-2-5) as To the elements (the soul, with prana, goes), on account of the subsequent scriptural clause. The interpretation that the soul joined by the prana takes up its abode within subtle elements, which accompany heat and form the subtle seed of the gross body is not pertinent here.
It overlooks the import and significance of the two terms prana, and bhuta. The individual, who is at the bare subsistence level and is not associated with or protected by any social body, was meant by the term, prana. And the individuals of the social periphery who were not organized as social groups and were however able to guard their interests and identity were known as bhutas. This was the approach of the Vedic hymns according to Badarayana. The passage (C.U.6-8-6) is not relevant here. It is not sound to interpret this epigram assuming that the term, prana, means breath, especially in-breath, and bhutas mean the five elements, water, earth, fire, wind and ether. (bhuteshu tat srute B.S.4-2-5)
Thibaut translates the epigram (4-2-6) as. Not to one (element the soul goes); for both (i.e. scripture and Smrti) declare this. It is not necessary to claim that both the Vedas and the later works known as Smrtis approve the stand that the breath (prana) becomes one with the soul.
The teacher claims that the individual, prana, who belonged to the subaltern and was engaged in a struggle for survival on his entry to the social periphery inhabited by the discrete individuals, bhutas, was not able to identify himself with the culture of that periphery.
The argument of the commentator that at the time of passing over into another body the individual soul does not abide in the one element of heat only for the new body consists of various elements. Badarayana was expounding the principles on which the new social constotution was based.
The commentator refers to Chhandogya Upanishad (5-3-3) where Pravahana, a member of the ruling oligarchy of Panchala, asked the youth, Svetaketu, son of Aruna whether he knew where the subjects (prajas of that country) travelled to from there and how they returned. Svetaketu pleaded that he did not know these.
Svetaketu did not know this feature of the social polity (C.U.5-3-3). Pravahana admonished Svetaketu for having claimed that he had received instruction from his father. Svetaketu returned to his father and complained that the latter had said that he had instructed the latter without in fact instructing him (C.U.5-3-4). Gautama confessed that he too did not know the answers and went to Pravahana to learn the answers from him.
In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad Yajnavalkya was briefing Janaka on the salient features of the new social polity envisaged by him and the place of the judiciary in it. The knowledge and talents of the judges could be used for noble purposes after their retirement. The individual (atma) was a jurist (Brahma), endowed with self-acquired new knowledge (vijnana). He was associated with thinkers (manas), persons living at the bare subsistence level (prana), observers (chakshu), great scholars (srotra) and agro-pastoral commonalty (prthvi). He was associated also with those who lived beside lakes and rivers (apa), and in the open moors (vayu), with those in the almost vacant places as insignificant beings (akasa) and those who occupied positions as guides or beacon-lights (tejas) and also those who were totally ignorant (atejas).
He was connected with those who were hedonists (kamamaya) and with the austere stoics who were against (sexual) desires. Similarly he was connected with those who bore animosity (krodha) towards some and those who had no animosity (akrodha) against any one. He had mingled with those who adhered to ethics and morality (dharma) and also with those whose conduct was unethical and immoral (adharma). As he was associated with all sorts of persons, good and bad, he had acquired all types of experiences. Yajnavalkya explains that the expressions, idomaya and adomaya, signify this association with and experience in that social field. Ones personality is formed from his acts and practices.
One who does pious deeds becomes known as a sadhu, a gentle and pious person. One who does sinful acts is known as a sinner. One becomes a virtuous person by his pious acts. One becomes a sinner by committing sins. Some say that (every) person is full of desires (kamamaya). Ones desires determine the type of deeds, which he performs. Ones deeds determine his personality. He attains the status appropriate to the deed or duty he performs. Yajnavalkya leaves it to the individual concerned what role he should play after retiring from his position as a member of the judiciary (Brahma) (B.U.4-4-5). Badarayana would point out to this stand in support of his stand. (na ekasmin darsayati hi B.S.4-2-6)
Thibaut interprets the statement (4-2-7) as And common (to him who knows and him who does not know is the departure) up to the beginning of the way; and the immortality (of him who knows is relative only) without having burned (nescience and so on). The commentator interprets that the question here is whether the departure of the soul as described hitherto is the same in the case of him who knows and him who is destitute of knowledge or whether there is any difference. He holds that the former has no re-birth and refers to Chhandogya Upanishad (6-8). Others refer to (C.U.5-10).
Pravahana told Gautama that the householders of the plains and scholars of the forest who understood the importance of devotion and sincerity and were engaged in tapas (endeavour to find out the best means for the development of the personality of the individual) should follow the path of positive enlightenment. This is indicated by the concepts, light, day, bright fortnight and the half-year when the sun moves northwards (uttarayana). He was thus emphasizing the value of the answers he had given to the five questions he had put to Svetaketu, student of Gautama (C.U.5-10-1).
The intellectual endeavour (tapas) continues from months to years and from the guidance given by Aditya (the representative of the governing elite, devas) to that given by Soma (the head of the intellectuals who had retired to the forest). Then the scholar gets enlightened (vidyut, flash of lightning). He then comes across the social leader (purusha) who is not an ordinary human being (manava) (following the social code known as Manava Dharmasastra). This leader (purusha) who is on the threshold of the aristocracy (divam) leads that scholar to Brahma, the head of the judiciary. This is the path leading to the nobles (devas). Pravahana was explaining how a scholar could enter the fold of the intellectual aristocracy. He had to take the assistance of the leader (purusha) who himself was at its threshold. (C.U.5-10-2)
Those persons in the villages who are not scholars or administrators but are rich and meet the desires of the villagers (by undertaking works of public utility) and are liberal donors (datta) follow the alternate path. Pravahana was referring to the role that the rich Vaisyas could follow if they were not inclined to follow the above path, devayana. It required an intellectual to be instructed in administration by Aditya and in philosophy of life by Soma before getting admitted to the ranks of the jurists with the support of the social leaders and the cultural aristocracy. They were not clear about what was correct and what was wrong.
From this mist they slide into ignorance of dark night, and from there, into the dark fortnight and then into the half year when the sun seems to move southward (dakshinayana). [Yama, the god of death in common parlance, was associated with the southern direction. Indra or Aditya was associated with the east, Varuna with the west and Soma with the north.] But this rich donor and social worker does not gain the experience that is required to be admitted to the intellectual aristocracy associated with the judiciary (Brahmaloka). He does not complete the year (samvatsara). (C.U.5-10-3)
He completes the southern solstice to directly reach the abodes of the ancestors (pitrloka), that is, he becomes a member of the cadre of experienced senior citizens who had retired from all economic activities. Guided by those senior citizens who had moved from the village to the forests, he enters the open space (akasa) that has no organized society and is thinly populated. From thereon he moves to the areas under the jurisdiction of Raja Soma or Chandra, the head of the social world of intellectuals. [The interpretation that pitryana and devayana are two different systems of culture is nearer the mark.]
But they may not be interpreted as the way of works and the way of knowledge, implying karmayoga and jnanayoga respectively.] What the active villagers and rich donors do go to maintain the cultural aristocracy (devas) who are not engaged in economic activities. [They feed the nobles who are honoured guests at their sacrifices.] (C.U.5-10-4). The commentators of the medieval times and their modern adherents have failed to comprehend the significance of this theme.
Having stayed there (in the areas where Soma had effective control), that is, with the senior citizens as long as there is some more charitable work to be done, the rich householders of the village return to their homes. On this path they enter the open space (akasa), which is the jurisdiction of the Vedic official designated as Vayu. Then they slowly regain their status, after passing through the stages of dense smoke and thin mist, that is, through agnosticism and scepticism (5-10-5).
Pravahana merges the two paths while describing the return journey. The mist becomes dark cloud and the cloud rains. The rains help the production of rice and barley, medicinal herbs and trees, sesamum plants and beans. The senior citizens who were pleased with the good deeds done by the householders and the gifts presented by them had given the latter counsel about how to utilize the sacrifices for bringing rains and increasing agricultural production. The rich, liberal villager gets educated under the experienced senior citizens and returns to become an educated villager-cum-agriculturist (C.U.5-10-6).
Uddalaka pointed out to Svetaketu that when in this world, a social leader (purusha) who is expected to be aware of his personal talents, sleeps, (as it is termed), he has become endowed with (sampanna) his true (sat) traits. He has reached the status that is his own (that is, he has become a noble, sva, who is not subordinate to any other person). The social leader (purusha) is at a stage between ordinary men who are not aware of their talents and are therefore inert and nobles who refrain from mingling among men and playing the roles of ordinary persons. (C.U.6-8-1)
Just as a bird tied by a string to a particular place settles down there after futile attempts to find a resting-place elsewhere, the intellectual (mind, manas) after wandering in various directions without settling anywhere in those regions settles down as an ordinary living person (prana) in this world. For the mind is bound to earth, that is, the thinker too is but an ordinary human being and his first desire is to live (6-8-2).
Uddalaka then offered to explain to Svetaketu what hunger and thirst were. When a social leader, purusha, is hungry, that is, when he is not an intellectual himself, water (apa), that is, the intellectuals who are constantly on the move, lead him to the status of a person who is aware of the talents he has imbibed till then. Just as a purusha is referred to as a leader of cows or as a leader of horses or as a leader of men, water (apa, the roving intellectual) too is referred to as a leader or conveyor of food (to people who are not engaged in agricultural production). Uddalaka asked Svetaketu to recognize that this class of roving intellectuals had emerged from the commonalty. For there can be no plant that has no roots. (C.U.6-8-3)
Badarayana had these approaches in his mind when he dealt with the issue of equidistance maintained by an intellectual and social leader. (samana ca asruti upakarmat amrutatvam ca anuposhya B.S.4-2-7)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (4-2-8) as This (aggregate of the elements continues to exist) up to the (final absolute) union (with Brahman); on account of the declarations of the samsara state (made by scriptures). The interpretation that heat (tejas) is the highest deity is unsound.
In Chhandogya Upanishad Uddalaka tells Svetaketu that when a social leader (purusha) is described as one who is thirsty, it implies that his brilliance (tejas, heat) has absorbed whatever he has drunk. This leader may be leading a herd of cattle or horses or men. When his desire for gaining control over a certain group is fulfilled he develops desire for control over more groups. Similarly innate brilliance and ability to guide (tejas) others makes one lead (in the desirable upward direction) the intellectuals who are steady and are on the move. A common saying about heat leading the water or vaporizing it is recalled in this context. This class of intellectuals who are interested in propagating higher and nobler thoughts has sprung up from the stratum of commoners. It cannot sustain itself unless it is rooted in that social stratum which is this-worldly. [Thus Uddalaka advises Svetaketu not to underestimate the importance of the commonalty and escape from it.] (C.U.6-8-5)
The search for the root of every offshoot is not to be given up. That is, the student should try to find out the course of social evolution by delving deep to identify from which lower social stratum a higher one emerges. Water, heat and reality (apa, tejas and sat) are thus the upward movement.
The intellectuals on the move (like water) have emerged from the commonalty that is dependent on mundane needs like food. These intellectuals get inspiration from the brilliant guides (tejas) who belong to the intellectual aristocracy and seek to get them established there. This intellectual elite desire to rise further in the social ladder and get established (pratishtha) amongst those who abide by the laws based on eternal truth (sat). [We avoid translating the term sat as Being, a concept that denotes indirectly God or Brahma or Paramatma.]
Uddalaka then refers to the issue that Svetaketu wanted to be addressed. Uddalaka had already explained how the three social leaders (purusha) who had the status of devatas, a status next only to that of nobles, devas, met the expectations of the three levels of the intelligent, worldly (anna), mobile (apa) and brilliant (tejas). When a social leader (purusha) of the commonalty leaves this field he joins the company of those Vedic scholars (vak) who are thinkers (manas). These thinkers seek to inhale or absorb (prana) whatever concepts they had learnt or arrived at and form their personalities accordingly. As a result they join the ranks of the brilliant guides (tejas). From the ranks of the intellectual elite they rise to join the ranks of the higher cultural aristocracy (devatas). (C.U.6-8-6)
The expression, samsara state, is connected with the concept of cycle of births and deaths. It continues till the final union of the individual (purusha) who has developed his personal talents with the highest cadre of intellectuals (Brahma). [The teacher does not seem to imply here that bondage to worldly life is due to wrong knowledge and that release from it is possible only through perfect knowledge.] (tadapite samsara vyapadesat B.S.4-2-8)
Thibaut reads the next formula (4-2-9) as, And (heat is) subtle in measure; as this is thus observed. The commentator interprets that the elementary matter of heat and other elements, which form the substratum for the soul when passing out of this body, must be subtle in its nature and extent in order to be able to pass through the veins. This is according to him established in the scriptural passages. Badarayana does not claim so. He seems to hold that different sciences of his times have vouched for the existence of the subtle soul. (Sukshmam pramanatasca tatha upalabdhe B.S.4-2-9)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (4-2-10) as For this reason (it is) not (destroyed) by the destruction (of the gross body). The soul does not die along with the body. This statement is in tune with the stand taken by Krshna in the Bhagavad-Gita. (na upamargenata B.S.10)
Thibaut translates the next formula (4-2-11) as And to that same (subtle body) that warmth (belongs), on account of the proof (which observation furnishes). The body alone has heat, which is absent when it is dead. It is not to be presumed that heat is the trait of the body. The abilities to smell, see, hear, taste, feel etc. are present in the body only as long as one lives. These must have come from the soul, which leaves the body on its death? (asya eva ca upapatteresha ushma.4-2-11)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (4-2-12) as Should you say that on account of the denial (made by scripture the soul of him who knows Brahman does not depart); we deny this, (because scripture means to say that the pranas do not depart) from the embodied soul. But the above argument is refuted by many scholars who treat these abilities as ones not belonging to the body. They hold that there is no proof that the soul has these qualities and withdraws them on the death of the body. This epigram does not speak of the five pranas or of the scriptures.
The commentator interprets that in the case of absolute immortality being reached there is no departure of the soul from the body until the pranas pass out of the body of him who knows Brahman. He is misled by a wrong interpretation of Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (4-4-6). (Vide Ch 21 of this work that presents an analysis of the discussion between Yajnavalkya and Janaka on the traits and role of the jurist, Brahma.)
Yajnavalkya was expounding to Janaka his concept of the jurist, Brahma. Ones desires determine the type of deeds, which he performs. Ones deeds determine his personality. He attains the status appropriate to the deed or duty he performs, he pointed out. Yajnavalkya leaves it to the individual concerned what role he should play after retiring from his position as a member of the judiciary (Brahma) (B.U.4-4-5). A jurist who had retired and gone back to the level from which he had risen to that high position might return to his post in the judiciary. It was not to be faulted, Yajnavalkya implied. Only some desired to return to the judiciary.
There were some who had no desires (akama) and some who worked without personal (nishkama) desires. Some had got their favourite desires (apta-kama) fulfilled. Some were enamoured of their personal status (atma-kama). The lives (pranas) of such persons are not elevated. One who is a scholar and has no personal ambitions or desires and has no attachments is eligible for the post of a judge (Brahma). He alone can get entry to the judiciary (Brahma). Yajnavalkya implies that while one might not be debarred from rejoining the judiciary after retirement, one who aspires to return is not to be taken back. (B.U.4-4-6)
A proper appreciation of the theme of the intellectual returning to his original place in his social world or community after a brief stint as a member of the judiciary or to withdraw from all social activities is necessary. This passage has nothing to do with the concept of the soul and the five pranas and the five senses. (pratishedhat it ca en na sarirat B.S.4-2-12)
Thibaut interprets the next epigram (4-2-13), as For (in the text) of some (the denial of the souls departure) is clear. The interpretation of this epigram as that the soul of him who knows Brahman departs from the body is refuted in some other texts clearly is untenable. The commentators of the medieval times had no proper grasp of what the disputation in Janakas court was about. Janaka wanted to know about the status and role of the highest judge who was designated as Brahma and what were his traits and relations with the other members of the society. Yajnavalkya was dealing with this aspect of the social polity and not with the senses, breaths, life, mind and soul.
Badarayana pointed out that the concept of attaining the level of Brahma, the highest intellectual, had been clearly explained and it need not be discussed again. But he does not say where the Veda has explained it. (spashto hi ekesham B.S.4-2-13) Badarayana does not point out where in the Smrti either this concept has been explained. (smaryate ca B.S.4-2-14)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (4-2-15) as Those (elements etc. are merged) in the highest Brahman; for thus (scripture) says. The commentator draws attention to Prasna Upanishad (6-5) in this connexion. Pippalada was briefing the administrators from Kosala on certain aspects of social polity. He told them that the sixteen departments that the Purusha created, brought out by analysis (asrja) are Prana, Sraddha, Kham, Vayu, Jyoti, Apa, Prthvi, Indriya, Manas, Anna, Virya, Tapas, Mantra, Karma, Lokas and Nama. These have been (loosely) translated as, life, faith, ether, air, light, water, earth, sense organ, mind, food, virility, austerity, works, worlds and name (P.U.6-4).
The comment that the sixteen parts are created through avidya is unwarranted. An observer, who looks back, would notice the sixteen parts tending towards that personage and on reaching him they disappear. They lose their identities and are called simply the person, purusha. That one which has no such segments is called amrtam (immortal, in common parlance). In other words a social stratum, which one cannot further classify on the basis of any of these sixteen criteria is treated as permanent and imperishable (P.U.6-5). Pippalada would hold purusha as the larger social polity to which all these sixteen sectors contribute their traits. Of course, these segments themselves have originated in his endeavours to form an integrated polity. He was not dealing with the concept, Purusha as personal God nor was he anthropomorphising God.
Prana as has been explained here meant the will of the larger society. Life has been infused in that society. The commonalty was earlier noted for its insentience and inability to function on its own. The Purusha constitution that was adopted by Kosala gave opportunity for all sections of the society to develop and express a common will. This will was reflected in the concept of dedication (sraddha), a total selflessness, a silencing of self-interest and a sense of duty to the cause undertaken. Pippalada must have had the mission of Mahadeva in his mind.
It was a mission intended to meet the minimum needs of all sections of the population. The five sectors of the larger society that were covered were antariksham or kham, vayu, jyoti, apa and prthvi. Those sections, which were inured to physical activities and pleasures from them (indriyas), are distinguished from the thinkers (manas).
These two fields later made the formation of the two classes, Vaisyas and Brahmans, inevitable. The concept of meeting the food needs of all is another feature of this polity. From this the need for valour was met. In other words, the agrarian population, kshudra, was the base from which the class of warriors, viras or kshatriyas rose. [The concept of fertility is not to be brought in here.] The concept and duty of performing tapas, rigorous endeavour to know what is not known and to find new methods and create new things formed another segment of purusha, one who led others.
The formulas (mantras) that contained these findings and the work system (karma) that put these findings to good use also came within the purview of purusha. The different social worlds came into existence as a result of this procedure and they were identified and their respective orientations were crystallized. Finally the individual member of every organized social world was recognized by his name rather than by his vocation or by clan only. The Purusha constitution had these sixteen features.
Sukesa was taught these so that he might acquaint Hiranya-nabha of Kosala with it. Of course, the Purusha (the head of the polity with life tenure or tenure of twentyfour years without being subordinate to the nobility but guided by the samiti, the council of scholars) had no control over the nobility (amrtam), which was a single entity without being a conglomeration of different social groups. (Vide Ch.45 Of this work for a critical appreciation of the teachings of Pippalada.)
The commentator refers to Mundaka Upanishad (3-2-7). Here the sage was dealing with the constitution Brahma. The teacher explains that the sages who had ascertained well (given authoritative and good stands on) the meaning of the science (vijnana) of Vedanta and have purified (suddha) theirnature (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 of this work on the message of the monks on Brahma-vidya, the Vedic social constitution.)
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.
The students seem to have sought clarification on the status of the different aspects of the personality of the great social organizer as described in Prasna Upanishad (6-4). The fifteen aspects other than prana go to their respective bases (pratishtha). According to Pippalada, these sixteen were departments of the social polity that was visualized as Purusha. The fifteen aspects together with the hub to which they were attached were considered to contribute to the concept of the Purusha with sixteen feet.
In the larger society, a cordial correlation was present between all the nobles (devas) of the core society and their counterparts (prati-devatas) of the other society. The teacher of the Mundaka Upanishad says that the functions (karma) and the individuality (atma) of Brahma who is essentially an intellectual (vijnana-maya atma) all become one in that jurist who has been freed from all personal and social duties. (tani pare tatha hyaha B.S.4-2-15)
Thibaut interprets the next epigram (4-2-16) as (There is absolute) non-division (from Brahman of the parts merged in it); according to scriptural declaration. Once again it has to be pointed out that it is not sound to claim that the scriptures (Vedas and Smrtis) have pronounced a particular view unless the passages from them are cited in evidence. The concepts of Purusha as presented in Prasna Upanishad (6-5) and Brahma in Mundaka Upanishad (3-2) deal with their undivided authority. The question of whether after bringing out the parts of Brahma there is any remainder is irrelevant here.
The statement that the parts enter into absolute non-division from Brahman is unnecessary mystification. The state can be viewed as having a certain number of units but none of them may go away from the hub, the central authority who is the Purusha, according to the Kosala constitution, as pointed out above. Badarayana does not favour a social polity devoid of a central political authority or of a high judicial authority vested with all powers that could be exercised when needed. This was in contrast to the Atharvan social polity that was marked by autonomus subordinate units and a weak central authority. (avibhaga vacanat B.S.4-2-16)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (4-2-17) as (There takes place) a lighting up of the point of its (the souls) abode (viz. the heart); the door (of its egress) being illumined thereby; owing to the power of knowledge and the application of meditation to the way which is part of that (knowledge); (the soul) favoured by him in the heart (viz. the Brahman passes upwards) by the one that exceeds a hundred (i.e. by the hundred and first vein).
According to Yajnavalkya in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad the retired jurist does not die neglected and unhonoured. When the king leaves the village the policemen, magistrates, reporters and revenue officials of the village gather round to see him off. Similarly all the living persons (even those at the bare subsistence level) (sarva prana) whether individuals or members of organized groups, whether rich or poor, gather as the jurist lay on his deathbed to see him off (4-3-38). [As pointed out earlier, the distinction between the expressions, sarva bhutas mentioned in the previous formula and sarva pranas mentioned in this formula is significant. It is too simplistic to to translate them as all beings and as all breaths.]
They gather round him even as when the individual (atma) becomes weak and his mind is distracted, his breaths (pranas) gather around the atma. He is no longer a dynamic personage (purusha). He is but an individual (atma) confined to his waning body. He embraces the brilliant sparks of light and these descend into his heart; they become dear to him. When the personage (purusha) in his eye turns away (after paying his tribute to him on behalf of the polity) he ceases to be aware of that persons presence (B.U.4-4-1). They say that he is becoming one who is not able to see or smell or taste or speak or hear or think or has sense of touch. The apex of his heart gets lighted up resulting in the soul (atma) leaving the body through the head or the other apertures of the body. [In this allegory the sage speaks of the head of the state or of the judiciary similarly leaving the body-politic (sarira-desebhya).]
When his life departs from his body, all the living persons (pranas) who have gathered round him too leave the scene. He then becomes one identified with vijnana, the knowledge which he has discovered and contributed (to the treasury of knowledge). What leaves is the individual who has this knowledge and not the knowledge itself. The mastery he had acquired over the various disciplines of study (vidyas) and the duties (karmas) he was performing at the time of his death are recorded and so too his earlier status of awareness (prajna) (from which he rose up to become the scholar-jurist). Yajnavalkya wants the contributions of the learned jurist to be remembered. (B.U.4-4-2)
Badarayana draws attention to the picture of the dark cave where a fierce flame burns. It lights up the door that would admit the intellectual who had mastered all the displines of study and acquired the ability to take over the control of the social polity and the remainng path to power through the methods of yoga prescribed in the Smrti. He is favoured by the authority in the centre of that polity with a hundred and one benefits, that is, the benefits that would last him even after he had completed his assigned life of a hundred years. This statement could not have been connected with Chhandogya Upanishad (8-6), and seems to be a later interpolation. It is not in tune with Narada's counsel to the scholar (vipra) who was constantly on the move, educating and enculturing the masses. (tada ka ugrajvalanam tat prakasitadvaro vidyasamarthyat tat seshagati anusmrti yogat ca harda anugrhita sathadhikaya 4-2-17)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (4-2-18) as (The soul after having passed forth from the body) follows the rays. The commentator draws attention to Chhandogya Upanishad (8-1). It deals with the teachings of a vipra. He was a scholar who was constantly on the move, educating all he came across, was a follower of Narada who had been briefed by Sanatkumara. The vipra told them that in the academy of scholars (Brahmapura) there was a small lotus-shaped building and that within it there was a small open space. He told his audience that one had to find out what was in that small open space. For that, one had to first desire to know the unknown through the known.
If members of the audience asked the vipra what was there that one should desire to know, he would say that the (open) space within the heart extended as far as that open space (akasa) extended. The two social worlds, patriciate (dyau) and commonalty (prthvi) were both within that small space. All the social cadres that came under the jurisdiction of the officials designated as Agni, Vayu, Surya and Chandra were within it. Similarly the scholars who were enlightened (vidyut) and the cadres who were not administrators (nakshatras) were present in that small space. The vipra was describing the sanctum sanctorum where the great teacher designated as Brahma was stationed. It was referred to as Brahmaloka. All his possessions in this world and also what were not such possessions were stored there (C.U.8-1-1,2,3). The rays guided the new entrant to the sanctum of the head of the academy. Nothing beyond this may be read here. (rasmi anusari B.S.4-2-18)
Thibaut interprets the next statement (4-2-19) as (Should it be said that the soul does not follow the rays) by night; (we reply) not so, because the connexion (of veins and rays) exists as long as the body; and (scripture) also declares this.
Is it necessary that an individual who is educated and is capable of putting his knowledge to proper use should be guided to enter the sanctum of the chief of the academy by the flame that lit up that dark abode? Can he not enter it by his own merit? What will be his position when there is none or no light to guide him to that place? Badarayana answers that the social body that intellectual belongs to is imbued with the ability to take him to that level without being required to await the grace of the great Brahman to favour him with proper guidance. It is not sound to seek the aid of Chhandogya Upanishad (8-6) to explain this formula for it appears to be a later interpolation. The issue was whether grace of god was necessary to enable a scholar to rise to the level of the eminent jurist, Brahma. He can rise by himself, the sage holds. (nisi na iti cenna sambamdhasya yavat dehabhavitavyat atvat darsayati ca B.S.4-2-19)
Thibaut interprets the next phrase (4-2-20) as And for the same reason (the departed soul follows the rays) also during the southern progress of the sun. While going northwards to join the academy of jurists and the intellectual aristocracy after getting the permission of the cultural elite, one need not necessarily have the guidance of any scholar who had been there. He may not even have the permission of the nobles (devas) to proceed northwards to join the academy. Similarly it was not necessary to secure the permission of any body or the guidance of any individual to go southwards to the forest abodes of the senior citizens, pitaras. (ata ca ayane api dakshine 4-2-20)
Thibaut reads the next phrase (4-2-21) as (These details) are recorded by Smrti with reference to the Yogis; and both (Samkhya and Yoga) are Smrti (only). This statement draws attention to the stand taken by Krshna in Bhagavad-Gita. Krshna, in his academy, taught the Yogis both Samkhya and Yoga. The lessons given by Krshna to Arjuna and other chiefs of the peoples in the presence of Badarayana are to be remembered by all. Badarayana covered the early social codes (Dharmasastras) and Bhagavad-Gita and the early Upanishads by the term, Smrti. (Yogina prati ca smaryate smarte ca ite B.S.4-2-21)