The connection of the present section beginning with, ‘Śvetaketu, the grandson of Aruṇa, came,’ etc., with the preceding portion of the book is this: This is a supplementary section, and what was left out before is now being stated. At the end of the fifth chapter, the person who combines rites and meditation is begging the fire for a passage: ‘O Fire, lead us along the good way,’ etc. Now the Mantra seems to suggest that there are many ways, for it has specified ‘the good way’; and these ways are the routes by which one obtains the results of one’s deeds. It will be said later on, ‘Doing which,’ etc. (VI. ii. 2). Naturally one may ask how many these routes are. Hence the present section is introduced to bring together all the different ways of transmigration, to show that they are just so many, and that these are the results of one’s natural actions, as well as of rites combined with meditation that are enjoined by the scriptures. Although in the passage, ‘Two classes of Prajāpati’s sons,’ etc. (I. iii. 1), the natural form of evil has been indicated, yet its results have not been particularly pointed out. Only the results of rites performed in accordance with the scriptures have been shown there in the passage concluding with the identification with the three kinds of food; for in commencing the pursuit of the knowledge of Brahman, an, aversion to these also is considered necessary. Even there it has only been said that mere rites lead to the world of the Manes, and meditation as well as rites combined with it leads to heaven. It has not been stated which way leads to the world of the Manes, and which to heaven. That too has to be fully stated in this supplementary section, which is therefore being taken up. It is also desirable to bring all things together at the conclusion of the Upaniṣad.
Moreover, it has been said that ‘this much is (the means of) immortality’ (IV. v. 15, adapted), and that there is no hope of immortality through rites (II. iv. 2 and IV. v. 3, adapted). But no reason has been given for it. For that purpose too the present section is introduced. It suggests a reason through implication. Because such is the goal of rites, which have nothing to do with immortality, therefore this much (i.e. Self-knowledge), alone is the means of attaining it. Besides, it has been stated elsewhere in the portion dealing with the Agnihotra, ‘But certainly you do not know the departure of these two oblations, or their route, or stay, or enjoyment, or return to this world, or the person who is about to depart for the next world’ (Ś. XI. vi. ii. 4). In the answer to them, the effects of the oblations have been described in the words, ‘These two oblations, after being offered, depart,’ etc. (Ibid. 6-7). These are in reality the results of the offering of oblations by the agent, the performer of the Agnihotra; for without being connected with the agent, the act of offering oblations cannot be presumed independently to produce those effects such as departure, since an act produces effects only for the benefit of the agent, and it also depends on certain factors (of which the agent is the chief one). The passage in question being a eulogy on the Agnihotra, the sixfold effect has there been attributed to that. But here all that is stated to belong to the agent, for the topic to be expounded here is the knowledge of the results of rites; and through that the Śruti wishes to enjoin here the meditation on the five fires that are the means of getting access to the northern way. Thus the different ways of transmigration will all be summed up. This is the highest result of rites. Hence with a view to showing these two the Śruti introduces the following story.
श्वेतकेतुर्ह वा आरुणेयः पञ्चालानां परिषदमाजगाम; स आजगाम जैवलिं प्रवाहणं परिचारयमाणम्; तमुदीक्श्याभ्युवाद, कुमारा३ इति; स भो३ इति प्रतिशुश्राव; अनुशिष्टोऽन्वसि पित्रेति; ओमिति होवाच ॥ १ ॥
śvetaketurha vā āruṇeyaḥ pañcālānāṃ pariṣadamājagāma; sa ājagāma jaivaliṃ pravāhaṇaṃ paricārayamāṇam; tamudīkśyābhyuvāda, kumārā3 iti; sa bho3 iti pratiśuśrāva; anuśiṣṭo’nvasi pitreti; omiti hovāca || 1 ||
1. Śvetaketu, the grandson of Aruṇa, came to the assembly of the Pañcālas. He approached Pravāhaṇa, the son of Jīvala, who was being waited on (by his servants). Seeing him the King addressed him, ‘Boy!’ He replied, ‘Yes.’ ‘Have you been taught by your father?’ He said, ‘Yes.’
Śvetaketu, the grandson of Aruṇa, after being taught by his father, came to the assembly ofthe Pañcālas to display his learning. The Pañcālas were famous (for their learning). With the proud idea of conquering first their assembly, and then the royal court, he approached Pravāhaṇa, the son of Jīvala, and the King of Pañcāla, who was being waited on by his servants. The particle ‘ha’ refers to a past incident, and ‘vai’ indicates certainty. The King had already heard of his pride of learning, and wished to teach him a lesson. Seeing him, he addressed him as soon as he arrived, ‘Boy!’ The prolongation of the accent in the address is expressive of censure. Thus addressed, he replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ Though a Kṣatriya is not entitled to this form of address, he used it in anger. The King said, ‘Have you been taught by your father?’ The other said, ‘Yes, I have. If you are in doubt, you can question me.’