स होवाचोषस्तश्चाक्रायणः, यथा विब्रूयात्, असौ गौः, असावश्व इति, एवमेवैतद्व्यपदिष्टं भवति; यदेव साक्शादपरोक्शाद्ब्रह्म, य आत्मा सर्वान्तरः, तं मे व्याचक्श्वेति; एष त आत्मा सर्वान्तरः; कतमो याज्ञवल्क्य सर्वान्तरः ? न दृष्टेर्द्रष्टारं पश्येः, न श्रुतेः श्रोतारं शृणुयात्, न मतेर्मन्तारं मन्वीथाः, न विज्ञातेर्विज्ञातारं विजानीयाः । एष त आत्मा सर्वान्तरः, अतोऽन्यदार्तं । ततो होषस्तस्चाक्रायण उपरराम ॥ २ ॥
इति चतुर्थं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
sa hovācoṣastaścākrāyaṇaḥ, yathā vibrūyāt, asau gauḥ, asāvaśva iti, evamevaitadvyapadiṣṭaṃ bhavati; yadeva sākśādaparokśādbrahma, ya ātmā sarvāntaraḥ, taṃ me vyācakśveti; eṣa ta ātmā sarvāntaraḥ; katamo yājñavalkya sarvāntaraḥ ? na dṛṣṭerdraṣṭāraṃ paśyeḥ, na śruteḥ śrotāraṃ śṛṇuyāt, na matermantāraṃ manvīthāḥ, na vijñātervijñātāraṃ vijānīyāḥ | eṣa ta ātmā sarvāntaraḥ, ato’nyadārtaṃ | tato hoṣastascākrāyaṇa upararāma || 2 ||
iti caturthaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
2. Uṣasta, the son of Cakra, said, ‘You have indicated it as one may say that a cow is such and such, or a horse is such and such. Explain to me the Brahman that is immediate and direct—the self that is within all.’ ‘This is your self that is within all.’ ‘Which is within all, Yājñavalkya?’ ‘You cannot see that which is the withess of vision; you cannot hear that which is the hearer of hearing; you cannot think that which is the thinker of thought; you cannot know that which is the knower of knowledge. This is your self that is within all; everything else but this is perishable.’ Thereupon Uṣasta, the son of Cakra, kept silent.
Usasta, the son of Cakra, said: As somebody first proposes one thing and then, being in doubt, may say something else—for instance, having proposed to point out a cow or a horse, he merely describes them through certain characteristics of theirs such as walking and says, ‘A cow is that which walks,’ or ‘A horse is that which runs’—so you too have indicated Brahman through certain characteristics such as breathing. To be brief, give up your trick prompted by your hankering after the cows, and explain to me the Brahman that is immediate and direct—the self that is within all. Yājñavalkya replied: I adhere to the proposition that I ñrst made, that your self is such and such; it is exactly as I have describèd it.
You asked me to present the self as one would a jar etc. I do not do so, because it is impossible. Why is it impossible? Owing to the very nature of the thing. What is that? Its being the witness of vision etc., for the self is the witness of vision. Vision is of two kinds, ordinary and real. Ordinary vision is a function of the mind as connected with the eye; it is an act, and as such it has a beginning and an end. But the vision that belongs to the self is like the heat and light of fire; being the very essence of the witness, it has neither beginning nor end. Because it appears to be connected with the ordinary vision, which is produced and is but a limiting adjunct of it, it is spoken of as the witness, and also as differentiated into witness and vision. The ordinary vision, however, is coloured by the objects seen through the eye, and of course has a beginning; it appears to be connected with the eternal vision of the self, and is but its reflection; it originates and ends, pervaded by the other. It is therefore that the eternal vision of the self is metaphorically spoken of as the witness, and although eternally seeing, is spoken of as sometimes seeing and sometimes not seeing. But as a matter of fact the vision of the seer never changes. So it will be said in the fourth chapter, ‘It thinks, as it were, and shakes, as it were’ (IV. iii. 7), and ‘The vision of the witness can never be lost’ (IV. iii. 23).
This is the meaning of the following passage: You cannot see that which is the witness of vision, i.e. which pervades by its eternal vision the act of our ordinary vision. This latter, which is an act, is affected by the objects seen, and reveals only colour (form), but not the inner self that pervades it. Therefore you cannot see that inner self which is the witness of vision. Similarly you cannot hear that which is the hearer of hearing; you cannot think that which pervades thought, the mere function of the mind; you cannot know that which pervades knowledge, the mere function of the intellect. This is the very nature of the thing; therefore it cannot be shown like a cow etc.
Some explain the passage, ‘You cannot see the witness of vision,’ etc. differently. According to them ‘the witness of vision’ means ‘that which sees/ the agent or cause of vision in general, without any distinction of kind. In other words, they regard the genitive case in ‘of vision’ as having an objective force. That vision is caused and is an effect, like a jar. The suffix in the word ‘Draṣṭṛ’ (witness) indicates agency. Therefore, these commentators opine, the expression ‘the witness of vision’ means ‘the agent of vision.’ But they fail to see that the words ‘of vision’ then become redundant; or even if they see it, they take it as a repetition, or as a faulty reading not worth anything, and pay no attention to it. How are the words redundant? They are redundant, because the word ‘Draṣṭṛ’ itself would be enough to indicate the agency of vision; then one should only say, ‘You cannot see the witness.’ For the text uses the suffix ‘tṛc’ with the verb, and in grammar this always indicates agency of the act denoted by the verb. We only say, ‘One is conducting the traveller or the cutter’; we should not, in the absence of any special meaning, say, ‘the traveller of travelling,’ or ‘the cutter of cutting.’ Nor should the extra words be dismissed as a mere elucidation, if there is any alternative explanation; and it is not a faulty reading, since all unanimously accept it. Therefore it is a defect of the commentators’ understanding and not a mistake on the part of the students.
But the way we have explained it, viz. that the self endowed with eternal vision, as opposed to the ordinary vision, should be pointed out, accounts for the two words ‘witness’ and ‘vision’ (in ‘the witness of vision’) as describing the subject and the object, with a view to defining the nature of the self. It will also agree with the passage, ‘The vision of the witness (can never be lost)’ etc. (IV. iii. 23), occurring elsewhere, as also with the clauses, ‘(Through which) the eyes see’ (Ke. I. 7), ‘(By which) this ear is heard’ (Ke. L 8), occurring in another text. It is also consonant with reason. In other words, the self can be eternal if only it is immutable; it is a contradiction in terms to say that a thing is changeful and yet eternal. Moreover, the Śruti texts, ‘It thinks, as it were, and shakes, as it were’ (IV. iii. 22), ‘The vision of the witness can never be lost,’ and ‘This is the eternal glory of a knower of Brahman’ (IV. iv. 23), would otherwise be inconsistent.
Objection: But such terms as ‘witness,’ ‘hearer,’ ‘thinker’ and ‘knower’ would also be inconsistent if the self is immutable.
Reply: Not so, for they only repeat conventional expressions as people think them. They do not seek to define the truth of the self. Since the expressions ‘the witness of vision’ etc. cannot otherwise be explained, we conclude that they mean what we have indicated. Therefore the opponents’ rejection of the qualifying term ‘of vision’ is due only to ignorance. This is your self specified by all those above-mentioned epithets. Everything else but this self, whether it is the gross body or the subtle body consisting of the organs, is perīshable. This only is imperishable, changeless. Thereupon Uṣasta, the son of Cakra, kept silent.