आत्मैवेदमग्र आसीत्पुरुषविधः, सोऽनुवीक्ष्य नान्यदात्मनोऽपश्यत्, सोऽहमस्मीत्यग्रे व्याहरत्, ततोऽहंनामाभवत्; तस्मादप्येतर्ह्यामन्त्रितोऽहमयमित्येवाग्र उक्त्वाथान्यन्नाम प्रब्रूते यदस्य भवति; स यत्पूर्वोऽस्मात्सर्वस्मात्सर्वान्पाप्मन अउषत् तस्मात्पुरुषह्; ओषति ह वै स तम् योऽस्मात्पूर्वो बुभूषति य एवं वेद ॥ १ ॥
ātmaivedamagra āsītpuruṣavidhaḥ, so’nuvīkṣya nānyadātmano’paśyat, so’hamasmītyagre vyāharat, tato’haṃnāmābhavat; tasmādapyetarhyāmantrito’hamayamityevāgra uktvāthānyannāma prabrūte yadasya bhavati; sa yatpūrvo’smātsarvasmātsarvānpāpmana auṣat tasmātpuruṣah; oṣati ha vai sa tam yo’smātpūrvo bubhūṣati ya evaṃ veda || 1 ||
1. In the beginning, this (universe) was but the self (Virāj) of a human form. He reflected and found nothing else but himself. He first uttered, ‘I am he.’ Therefore he was called Aham (I). Hence, to this day, when a person is addressed, he first says, ‘It is I,’ and then says the other name that he may have. Because he was first and before this whole (band of aspirants) burnt all evils, therefore he is called Puruṣa. He who knows thus indeed burns one who wants to be (Virāj) before him.
It has been explained that one attains the status of Hiraṇyagarbha through a combination of meditation and rites. That the same result is attained only through meditation on the vital force has also been stated in the passage, ‘This certainly wins the world,’ etc. (I. iii. 28). The present section is introduced in order to describe the excellent results of Vedic meditations and rites by setting forth the independence and other powers of Hiraṇyagarbha,.who is himself the result of his past actions, in the projection, maintenance and dissolution of the universe. The meditations and rites that are prescribed in the ceremonial portion of the Vedas would thereby be extolled by implication. The import, however, is this: The sum total of these results of meditation and rites belongs to the relative world, for Virāj has been described as possessing fear, dissatisfaction, etc., has a body and organs, and consists of gross, differentiated and transient objects. This prepares the ground for what follows, since the knowledge of Brahman alone, which is going to be described, can lead to liberation. For one who is not disgusted with things of the world consisting of a variety of means and ends is not entitled to cultivate the knowledge of the unity of the Self, as one who is not thirsty has no use for a drink. Therefore the delineation of the excellent results of meditation and rites is meant to introduce the succeeding portion. It will also be said later on, ‘Of all these, this Self alone should be realised’ (I. iv. 7), ‘This Self is dearer than a son’ (I. iv. 8), and so on.
In the beginning, before the manifestation of any other body, this universe of different bodies was but the self, was undifferentiated from the body of Virāj, the first embodied being born out of the cosmic egg, who is here meant by the word ‘self.’ He is the product of Vedic theditations and rites. And this self was of a human form, with a head, hands, etc., i.e. Virāj. He, who was born first, reflected on who he wras and what his features were, and found nothing else but himself, consisting of the body and organs. He found only himself, the self of all. And as he had been purified by Vedic knowledge in his past life, he first uttered, ‘I am he,’ the Virāj who is the self of all. And because owing to his past impressions he first declared himself as Aham, therefore he was called Aham (I). That this is his name as given out by the Śruti will be mentioned later: ‘His secret name is Aham’ (V. v. 4). Hence, because this happened with Virāj, the cause, therefore, to this day, among men, his effects, when a person is addressed as, ‘Who are you?’ he first says, ‘It is I,’ describes himself as identified with his cause, Virāj, and then says, to one who inquires about his particular name, the other ‘name, the name of his particular body, such as Devadatta or Yajñadatta, that he may have, as given to that particular body by his parents.
And because he, Virāj, in his past incarnation when he was an aspirant, by an adequate practice of meditation and rites was the first of those who wanted to attain the status of Virāj by the same method, and before this whole band of aspirants burnt —what?—all evils, viz. attachment and ignorance, which obstructed his attainment of the státus of Virāj—because it was so, therefore he is called Puruṣa, i.e. one who burnt first. As this Virāj became Puruṣa and Virāj by burning all the obstructing evils, so another person, by the fire of his practice of meditation and rites, or by virtue of meditation alone, burns one—whom?—who wants to be Virāj before him, this sage. The text points him out in the words, ‘Who knows thus.’ It is implied that he has perfected himself in the practice of meditation.
Objection: The desire to attain the status of Virāj must be dangerous, if one is burnt by a sage possessing this knowledge.
Reply: There is nothing wrong in it; for burning here means only the failure to attain the status of Virāj first, due to a deficiency in the practice of meditation. The man who uses the best means attains it first, and the man who is deficient in his means does not. This is spoken of as the former burning the latter. It is not that one who uses the best means actually burns the other. As in the world, when several people are having a running contest, the man who first reaches the destination may be said to burn the others, as it were, for they are shorn of their strength, so is the case here.
In order to show that the results, meant to be extolled here, of meditation and rites enjoined in the ceremonial portion of the Vedas, are not beyond the range of transmigratory existence, the text goes on: