How is this section related to the preceding one? The highest result of rites combined with meditation has been indicated by a statement of the result of the horse sacrifice, viz. identity with Death or Hiranṇya-garbha. Now the present section, devoted to the Udgītha, is introduced in order to indicate the source of rites and meditation, which are the means of attaining identity with Death.
Objection: In the previous section the result of rites and meditation has been stated to be identity with Death. But here the result of rites and meditation on the Udgītha will be stated to be the transcendence of identity with death. Hence, the results being different, this section cannot be meant to indicate the source of the rites and meditation that have been dealt with in the previous section.
Reply: The objection does not hold, for the result of meditation on the Udgītha is identity with fire and the sun. In the previous section too this very result was mentioned, ‘He becomes one with these deities’ (I. ii. 7).
Objection: Do not such statements as, ‘Having transcended death,’ etc. (I. iii. 12-16) clash with what has been said before?
Reply: No, for here the transcendence is of the natural attachment to evil (not of Hiraṇyagarbha). What is this natural attachment to evil, called death? What is its source? By what means is it transcended? And how?—these are the things which are sought to be explained by the following allegory:
द्वया ह प्राजापत्याः, देवाश्चासुराश्च । ततः कानीयसा एव देवाः, ज्यायसा असुराः; त एषु
लोकेष्वस्पर्धन्त; ते ह देवा ऊचुः, हन्तासुरान्यज्ञ उद्गीथेनात्ययामेति ॥ १ ॥
dvayā ha prājāpatyāḥ, devāścāsurāśca | tataḥ kānīyasā eva devāḥ, jyāyasā asurāḥ; ta eṣu
lokeṣvaspardhanta; te ha devā ūcuḥ, hantāsurānyajña udgīthenātyayāmeti || 1 ||
1. There were two classes of Prajāpati’s sons, the gods and the Asuras. Naturally, the gods were fewer, and the Asuras more in number. They vied with each other for (the mastery of) these worlds. The gods said, ‘Now let us surpass the Asuras in (this) sacrifice through the Udgītha.’
There were two classes: ‘Two’ here means two classes. The particle ‘ha’ is an expletive referring to a past incident. It is here used to recall what happened in the past life of the present Prajāpati. Of Prajāpati’s sons, in his past incarnation. Who are they? The gods and the Asuras, the organs, that of speech and the rest, of Prajāpati himself. How can they be the gods and Asuras? They become gods when they shine under the influence of thoughts and actions as taught by the scriptures. While those very organs become Asuras when they are influenced by their natural thoughts and actions, based only on perception and inference, and directed merely to visible (secular) ends. They are called Asuras, because they delight only in their own lives (Asu) or because they are other than the gods (Sura). And because the Asuras are influenced by thoughts and actions directed to visible ends, therefore the gods were fewer, and the Asuras more in number.—The lengthened form of the two adjectives due to the addition of a vowel augment makes no change of meaning.—The organs, as we know, have a stronger tendency to thoughts and actions that are natural, than to those that are recommended by the scriptures, for the former serve visible ends. Hence the gods are fewer, for the tendency that is cultivated by the scriptures is rare; it is attainable with great effort. They, the gods and the Asuras living in Prajāpati’s body, vied with each other for (the mastery of) these worlds, which are attainable through thoughts and actions prompted by one’s natural inclinations as well as those cultivated by the scriptures. The rivalry of the gods and the Asuras here means the emergence and subsidence of their respective tendencies. Sometimes the organs manifest the impressions of thoughts and actions cultivated by the scriptures; and when this happens, the impressions, manifested by those very organs, of the thoughts and actions based on perception and inference, and producing visible results only— those tendencies characteristic of the Asuras—subside. That is the victory of the gods and the defeat of the Asuras. Sometimes the reverse happens. The characteristic tendencies of the gods are overpowered, and those of the Asuras emerge. That is the victory of the Asuras and the defeat of the gods. Accordingly, when the gods win, there is a preponderance of merit, and the result is elevation up to the status of Prajāpati. And when the Asuras triumph, demerit prevails, and the result is degradation down to the level of stationary objects, while if there be a draw, it leads to human birth.
What did the gods do when, being fewer, they were overwhelmed by the Asuras who outnumbered them? The gods, being overwhelmed by the Asuras, said to one another, ‘Now let us surpass the Asuras in this sacrifice, Jyotiṣṭoma, through the Udgītha, that is, through identity with (the vital force), the chanter of this accessory of a sacrifice called the Udgītha. By overcoming the Asuras we shall realise our divinity as set forth in the scriptures.’ This identity with the vital force is attained through meditation and rites. The rites consist of the repetition of Mantras that will be presently enjoined: ‘These Mantras are to be repeated,’ etc. (I. iii. 28). The meditation is what is being described.
Objection: This is a part of an injunction on the repetition of certain Mantras leading to the attainment of divinity, and is a mere eulogy; it has nothing to do with meditation.
Reply: No, for there occur the words, ‘He who knows thus.’
Objection: Since the text narrates an old story in this treatment of the Udgītha, it must be a part of an injunction on the latter.
Reply: No, for it is a different context. The Udgītha has been enjoined elsewhere (in the ceremonial portion), and this is a section on knowledge. Besides, the repetition of those Mantras for the attainment of identity with the gods is not an independent act, for it is to be practised (only) by one who meditates on the vital force as described in this section, and this meditation on the vital force is represented as being independent. And a separate result is mentioned for it in the passage, ‘This (meditation on the vital force) certainly wins the world’ (I. iii. 28). Moreover, the vital force has been stated to be pure, and the organs impure. This implies that the vital force is enjoined as an object of meditation, for otherwise there would be no sense in calling it pure and the organs such as that of speech, mentioned along with it, impure, nor in extolling it, as is evident, by the condemnation of the organ of speech, etc. The same remarks apply to the enunciation of the result of meditation on it, ‘(That fire) having transcended death shines,’ etc. (I. iii. 12). For the identification of the organ of speech etc. with fire and so on is the result of attaining oneness with the vital force.
Objection: Granted that the vital force is to be meditated upon, but it cannot possess the attributes of purity etc.
Reply: It must, for the Śruti says so.
Objection: No, for the vital force being an object of meditation, the attributes referred to may just be a eulogy.
Reply: Not so, for in scriptural, as in secular matters, correct understanding alone can lead to our well-being. In common life one who understands things correctly attains what is good or avoids what iö evil—not if one understands things wrongly. Similarly here also one can attain well-being if only one correctly understands the meaning of scriptural passages, and not otherwise. Besides there is nothing to disprove the truth of objects corresponding to notions conveyed by the words of the scriptures enjoining a meditation. Nor is there any exception in the Śrutis to meditation on the vital force as pure etc. Since that meditation, we see, is conducive to our wellbeing, we accept it as true. And we see that the opposite course leads to evil. We notice in life that one who misjudges things—takes a man, for instance, for a stump, or an enemy for a friend—comes to grief. Similarly, if the Self, God, the deities and so forth, of whom we hear from the scriptures, prove fictitious, then the scriptures, like secular things, would be a veritable source of evil; but this is acceptable to neither of us. Therefore we conclude that the scriptures present, for purposes of meditation, the Self, God, the deities and so on, as real.
Objection: What you say is wrong, for the name and other things are represented as Brahman. That is to say, the name and other things are obviously not Brahman, but the scriptures, we find, ask us, in direct opposition to fact, to look upon them as Brahman, which is analogous to regarding a stump etc. as a man. Hence it is not correct to say that one attains wellbeing by understanding things as they are from the scriptures.
Reply: Not so, for the difference is obvious, as in the case of an image. You are wrong to say that the scriptures ask us, in the face of fact, to look upon the name and other things, which are not Brahman, as Brahman, analogous to regarding a stump etc. as a man.
Reply: Because the scriptures enjoin meditation on the name etc. as Brahman for one who clearly knows that those things are different from Brahman; it is like meditation on the image etc. as Viṣṇu. Just like the image etc., the name and other things are used merely as aids to meditation; it is not meant that they are Brahman. So long as one does not know a stump as a stump, one mistakes it for a man. But meditation on the name etc. as Brahman is not of that erroneous nature.
Objection. There is only that meditation on the name etc. as Brahman, but no Brahman. Regarding an image as Viṣṇu and other gods, and a Brāhmaṇa as the Manes and so forth belongs to the same category.
Reply: No, for we are advised to look upon the Ṛc (hymn) etc. as the earth and so on. Here we see only a superimposition on the Ṛc etc. of the notions of actually existing things such as the earth. Therefore on the analogy of that we conclude that viewing the name etc. as Brahman and so forth is based on actually existing Brahman and the rest. This also proves that viewing an image as Viṣṇu and other gods, and a Brāhmaṇa as the Manes and so forth, has a basis in reality. Moreover, a figurative sense depends on a primary one. Since the five fires, for instance, are only figuratively such, they imply the existence of the real fire. Similarly, since the name apd other things are Brahman only in a figurative sense, they merely prove that Brahman in a real sense must exist.
Besides, matters pertaining to knowledge are akin to those pertaining to rites. That rites like the new and full moon sacrifices produce such and such results, and have to be performed in a certain definite way, with their parts following each other in a particular order, is a supersensuous matter beyond the range of our perception and inference, which we nevertheless understand as true solely from the words of the Vedas. Similarly it stands to reason that entities like the Supreme Self, God, the deities, etc., of which we learn, also from the words of the Vedas, as being characterised by the absence of grossness etc., being beyond hunger and the like, and so on, must be true, for they are equally supersensuous matters. There is no difference between texts relating to knowledge and those relating to rites as regards producing an impression. Nor is the impression conveyed by the Vedas regarding the Supreme Self and other such entities indefinite or contrary to fact.
Objection: Not so, for there is nothing to be done. To be explicit: The ritualistic passages mention an activity which, although relating to supersensuous matters, consist of three parts to be performed. But in the knowledge of the Supreme Self, God, etc., there is no such activity to be performed. Hence it is not correct to say that both kinds of passages are alike.
Reply: Not so, for knowledge is of things that already exist. The activity to which you refer is real, not because it is to be performed, but because it is known through proper testimony (the Vedas). Nor is the notion concerning it real because it relates to something to be performed, but solely because it is conveyed by Vedic sentences. When a thing has been known to be true from the Vedas, a person will perform it, should it admit of being performed, but will not do it if it is not a thing to be done.
Objection: If it is not something to be done, then it will cease to have the support of Vedic testimony in the form of sentences. We do not understand how words in a sentence can be construed unless there is something to be done. But if there is something to be done, they are construed as bringing out that idea. A sentence is authoritative when it is devoted to an action—when it says that a certain thing is to be done through such and such means in a particular way. But hundreds of such words denoting the object, means and method would not make a sentence unless there is one or other of such terms as the following, ‘Should do, should be done, is to be done, should become and should be.’ Hence such entities as the Supreme Self and God have not the support of Vedic testimony in the form of sentences. And if they are denoted by Vedic words (instead of sentences), they become the objects of other means of knowledge. Therefore this (the fact of Brahman being the import of the Vedas) is wrong.
Reply: Not so, for we find sentences like, ‘There is Mt. Meru, which is of four colours,’ which relate to things other than an action. Nor has anyone, on hearing such sentences, the idea that Meru and the rest are something to be done. Similarly, in a sentence containing the verb ‘to be,’ what is there to prevent the construing of its words denoting the Supreme Self, God, etc., as substantives and their qualifying words?
Objection: This is not correct, for the knowledge of the Supreme Self etc: serves no useful purpose like that of Meru and so forth.
Reply: Not so, for the Śruti mentions such results as, ‘The knower of Brahman attains the highest’ (Tai. II. i. i), and ‘The knot of the heart (intellect) is broken,’ etc. (Mu. II. ii. 8). We also fìnd the cessation of ignorance and other evils which are the root of relative existence. Besides, since the knowledge of Brahman does not form part of anything else (e.g. an action), the results rehearsed about it cannot be a mere eulogy as in the case of the sacrificial ladle.
Moreover, it is from the Vedas that we know that a forbidden act produces evil results; and it is not something to be done. A man who is about to do a forbidden act has (on recollecting that it is forbidden) nothing else to do except desisting from it. In fact, prohibitions have just that end in view, viz. to create an idea that the acts in question must not be done. When a hungry man who has been chastened by a knowledge of prohibited acts comes across something not to be eaten in any way, such as Kalañja (the meat of an animal killed with a poisoned weapon), or food coming from a person under a curse, his first notion is that the food can be eaten, but it is checked by the recollection that it is a forbidden food, as one’s first notion that one can drink from a mirage is checked by the knowledge of its true nature. When that natural erroneous notion is checked, the dangerous impulse to eat that food is gone. That impulse, being due to an erroneous notion, automatically stops; it does not require an additional effort to stop it. Therefore prohibitions have just the aim of communicating the real nature of a thing; there is not the least connection of human activity with them. Similarly here also, the injunction on the true nature of the Supreme Self etc. cannot but have that one aim. And a man who has been chastened by that knowledge knows that his impulses due to an erroneous notion are fraught with danger, and those natural impulses automatically stop when their cause, the false notion, has been exploded by the recollection of the true nature of the Supreme Self and the like.
Objection: Granted that the dangerous impulse to eat Kalañja and the like may stop when the natural erroneous notion about their edibility has been removed by the recollection of their true nature as harmful things; but the tendency to do acts enjoined by the scriptures should not stop in that way, for they are not prohibited.
Reply: Not so, for both are due to erroneous notions and produce harmful effects. Just as the tendency to eat Kalañja etc. is due to a false notion and productive of harm, so is the tendency to do acts enjoined by the scriptures. Therefore, for a man who has a true knowledge of the Supreme Self, the tendency to do these acts, being equally due to a false notion and productive of harm, will naturally cease when that false notion has been removed by the knowledge of the Supreme Self.
Objection: Let it be so with regard to those acts (which are done for material ends), but the regular rites, which are performed solely in obedience to the scriptures and produce no harmful effects, should on no account stop.
Reply: Not so, for they are enjoined on one who has defects such as ignorance, attachment and aversion. As the rites with material ends (Kāmya)^ such as the new and full moon sacrifices are enjoined on one who has the defect of desiring heaven etc., so are the regular rites enjoined on one who has the root of all evils, ignorance etc., and the consequent defects of attachment and aversion, manifesting themselves as the quest of what is good and the avoidance of what is evil, etc., and who being equally prompted by these tries to seek good and avoid evil; they are not performed solely in obedience to the scriptures. Nor are rites such as the Agnihotra, the new and full moon sacrifices, Cāturmāsya, Paśubandha and Somayāga intrinsically either rites with material ends or regular rites. They come under the former category only because the man who performs them has the defect of desiring heaven and so forth. Similarly the regular rites performed by a man who has the defects of ignorance etc., and who out of natural promptings seeks to attain what is good and avoid what is evil, are intended for that purpose alone, for they are enjoined on him. On one who knows the true nature of the Supreme Self, we do not find any other work enjoined except what leads to the cessation of activities. For Self-knowledge is inculcated through the obliteration of the very cause of rites, viz. the consciousness of all its means such as the gods. And one whose consciousness of action, its factors and so forth has been obliterated cannot presumably have the tendency to perform rites, for this presupposes a knowledge of specific actions, their means and so on. One who thinks that he is Brahman unlimited by space, time, etc., and not-gross and so on, has certainly no room for the performance of rites.
Objection: He may, as he has for the inclination to eat and so on.
Reply: No, for the inclination to eat and so on is solely due to the defects of ignorance etc., and are not supposed to be compulsory. But the regular rites cannot be uncertain like that; they cannot be sometimes done and sometimes omitted (according to one’s whim). Acts like eating, however, may be irregular, as they are solely due to one’s defects, and these have no fixed time for appearing or disappearing, like desires for rites with material ends. But the regular rites, although they are due to defects, cannot be uncertain, for they depend on specific times etc. prescribed by the scriptures, just as the Kāmya Agnihotra (which is a rite with material ends) depends on such conditions as the morning and evening, because it is enjoined by the scriptures.
Objection: As the inclination to eat etc. (although due to defects) is regulated by the scriptures, so the restrictions about that Agnihotra too may apply to the sage.
Reply: No, for restrictions are not action, nor are they incentives to action. Hence they are not. obstacles to the attainment of knowledge (even by an aspirant). Therefore the Vedic dicta inculcating the true nature of the Supreme Self, because they remove the erroneous notions about Its being gross, dual and so on, automatically assume the character of prohibitions of all action, for both imply a cessation of the tendency to action. As is the case with prohibited acts (such as the eating of forbidden food). Hence we conclude that like the prohibitions, the Vedas delineate the nature of realities and have that ultimate aim.