The connection of the present section with the preceding portion is as follows: The individual self—the Brahman that is immediate and direct, the self that is within all—is identical with the Supreme Self. We know this from such Śruti texts as, ‘There is no other witness but Him’ (III. vii. 23), and ‘There is no other witness but This’ (III. viii. 11), as well as ‘This self has entered into these bodies’ (I. iv. 7), and it is inferred from its functions of speech etc. That it exists and is different from the body, has been known in the dialogue between Bālāki and Ajātaśatru (II. i.) in the Madhukāṇḍa from the denial of agency and enjoyment to the vital force etc. Nevertheless, in the section dealing with the question of Uṣasta, in the words, ‘That which breathes through the Prāṇa,’ etc. (III. iv. 1), it has been known in a general way, from the introduction of the functions of breathing etc., that the self is to be inferred from these functions, and in the words, ‘Witness of vision,’ etc. (III. iv. 2), it has been more particularly known as being by nature constant intelligence. It suffers transmigration owing to adventitious limiting adjuncts, as for instance the appearance of a rope, a desert, a mother-of-pearl, and the sky as a snake, water, silver and blue respectively, is due to the superimposition of foreign elements, not intrinsically. But devoid of the limiting adjuncts, it is known as indefinable, to be described only as ‘Not this, not this,’ the Brahman that is immediate and direct, the self that is within all, the Immutable, the Internal Ruler, the mighty Ruler, the Being who is to be known only through the Upaniṣads, Knowledge, Bliss and Brahman. That same Brahman which is immediate and within all has again been taught (by the mention of some particular ways of attaining It). (Lastly, it has been stated:) He who is called Indha (Vaiśvānara) takes fine food; beyond it, in the heart, is the self identified with the subtle body, which takes finer food; higher still is the self identified with the universe, which has the vital force for its limiting adjunct (i.e. the Prājña). By dissolving (in the Supreme Self) through knowledge even this self identified with the universe, which is but a limiting adjunct, like the snake, for instance, in the rope, (the transcendent Brahman referred to in the passage), ‘This self is That which has been described as “Not this, not this”’ (III. ix. 26), has been known. Thus did Yājñavalkya set Janaka beyond fear by a brief reference to scriptural evidence. Here, in a different connection, the states of wakefulness, dream, profound sleep and transcendence have heen introduced in the words, ‘Indha,’ ‘Has finer food,’ ‘The different vital forces,’ and ‘This self is That which has been described as “Not this, not this”’ Now Brahman is to be studied at length through those very states of wakefulness etc., with the help of valid reasoning; Janaka is to be helped to attain the Brahman that is beyond fear; the existence of the self should be established by the removal of the doubts raised against it; and it should be known as being different from the body, pure, self-effulgent, by nature identical with constant intelligence and superlative bliss, and beyond duality. For this purpose the present section is introduced. The story is meant to indicate the method of imparting and receiving the instruction, and is particularly a eulogy on knowledge, as is suggested by the granting of the boon etc.
जनकं ह वैदेहं याज्ञवल्क्यो जगाम; स मेने न वदिष्य इति स मेने न वदिष्य इति; अथ ह यज्जनकश्च वैदेहो याज्ञवल्क्यश्चाग्निहोत्रे समूदाते, तस्मै ह याज्ञवल्क्यो वरं ददौ; स ह कामप्रश्नमेव वव्रे, तं हास्मै ददौ; तं ह सम्राडेव पूर्वं पप्रच्छ ॥ १ ॥
janakaṃ ha vaidehaṃ yājñavalkyo jagāma; sa mene na vadiṣya iti sa mene na vadiṣya iti; atha ha yajjanakaśca vaideho yājñavalkyaścāgnihotre samūdāte, tasmai ha yājñavalkyo varaṃ dadau; sa ha kāmapraśnameva vavre, taṃ hāsmai dadau; taṃ ha samrāḍeva pūrvaṃ papraccha || 1 ||
l. Yājñavalkya went to Janaka, Emperor of Videha. He thought he would not say anything. Now Janaka and Yājñavalkya had once talked on the Agnihotra, and Yājñavalkya had offered him a boon. He had begged the liberty of asking any questions he liked; and Yājñavalkya had granted him the boon. So it was the Emperor who first asked him.
Yājñavalkya went to Janaka, Emperor of Videha. While going, he thought he would not say anything to the Emperor. The object of the visit was to get more wealth and maintain that already possessed. Yājñavalkya , although he had resolved not to say anything, explained whatever Janaka asked. Why did he act contrary to his intentions? The answer to this is given by the story here related. Sometime in the past there had been a talk between Janaka and Yājñavalkya on the subject of the Agnihotra. On that occasion Yājñavalkya, pleased with Janaka’s knowledge on the subject, had offered him a boon. Janaka thereupon had begged the liberty of asking any questions he liked; and Yājñavalkya had granted him the boon. On the strength of that boon it was the Emperor Janaka who first asked him, although Yājñavalkya was in no mood to explain and was silent. That Janaka had not put his question on the previous occasion was due to the fact that the knowledge of Brahman is contradictory to rituals (hence the topic would be out of place), and is independent: It is not the effect of anything, and serves the highest end of man independently of any auxiliary factors.