Brhadaranyaka Upanishad:

The Great Forest Teaching:

Book Four Part II


IV.4

1. 'When this self (atman) becomes weak and, as it were, confused, the breaths come together with it. Taking with it particles of light (tejas)f it goes down into the heart. When the person of the eye turns away from him, he ceases to know forms.

2. 'They say, "He is becoming one: he does not see." They say, "He is becoming one: he does not smell." They say, "He is becoming one: he does not taste." They say, "He is becoming one: he does not speak." They say, "He is becoming one: he does not hear." They say, "He is becoming one: he does not think." They say, "He is becoming one: he does not touch." They say, "He is becoming one: he does not know." The top of his heart lights up, and by its light the self departs, either through the eye, or through the head, or through other parts of the body. As he goes, the breath follows; as the breath goes, the senses (prana) follow. He becomes a being of consciousness; he follows consciousness. His knowledge and action take hold of him, as does his former experience. Purvaprajna. Here prajna seems to refer to that which the person has experienced through his senses, etc. during life: it is distinguished from his pure consciousness at the point of death (vijnana) and his knowledge or learning (vidya) which is linked with his actions (particularly ritual ones), karman.

3. 'As a caterpillar, reaching the end of a blade of grass and taking the next step, draws itself together, so the self, dropping the body, letting go of ignorance and taking the next step, draws itself together.

4. 'As a weaver, As Olivelle points out, peSask2lrZ is a female weaver (masc. peSaskiira), not a goldsmith, as often previously translated. Pali has pesakltra, weaver unpicking a pattern from her weaving, fashions another, newer and more beautiful shape, so the self, dropping the body and letting go of ignorance, creates another, newer and more beautiful shape, either of the ancestors, or of the gandharvas, or of the gods, or of Prajapati, or of Brahma,Or of brahman. or of some other beings. 5. 'The self, made of knowledge, made of mind, made of breath, made of sight, made of hearing, made of earth, made of water, made of air, made of space, made of light (tejas), made of darkness (atejas), made of desire, made of non-desire, made of anger, made of non-anger, made of right (dharma), made of wrong {adharma), made of everything, is brahman. It is "made of this, made of that". As one acts, as one behaves, so does one become. The doer of good becomes good, the doer of evil becomes evil. By virtuous action one becomes virtuous, by evil action evil. They say, "As one desires, so does one become, for the person is made of desire." As he desires, so does his will become; as his will is, so is the action he does; as is the action he does, so is what he gets back. Or, 'so is what he comes to resemble'

6. 'There is a verse about it:
'He, with his action, is attached
To that same mark to which his mind is bound.
'When he reaches the end
Of the action he did here,
He comes back from that world To this one, to act again.

'That is about the one who desires. The one who does not desire, who is without desire, free from desire, whose desires are fulfilled, with the self as his desire, the breaths do not leave him. Being brahman he goes to brahman.

7. 'There is a verse about it: 'When all the desires that dwell In one's heart are let go, Mortal becomes immortal:

One reaches brahman here.' 'As the slough of a snake lies dead, abandoned, on an anthill, so the body lies. But the bodiless immortal breath is brahman, light (tejas) 'Blessed one, I give you a thousand cows,' said Janaka of Videha.

8. 'There are these verses about it: 1 have touched, I have found The narrow, long and ancient way. By it the wise, the knowers of brahman, Go up to a heavenly world, freed from this.

9. 'On it, they say, are white and blue, Yellow, green and red. The way was found by brahman:Or Brahma' (here and in the next line) by it goes The knower of brahman, the doer of good, the radiant.

10. 'They who worship ignorance Enter blind darkness: They who delight in knowledge

Enter darkness, as it were, yet deeper.

11. 'Those worlds, covered with blind darkness, Are "Joyless" by name. People who are unknowing, unaware Go to them on departing.

12. 'But if a person knows the self� "I am this!", Wanting what, for desire of what, Would he burn up his body?

13. 'Whoever has found and woken up to the self

That has entered this dangerous, inaccessible place,The body, or the universe. He is the "All-Creator", for he is the maker of everything: His is the world�indeed, he is the world.

14. 'While we are here, we know this� If not, ignorance, great destruction! Those who know it become immortal: The rest go to sorrow again.

15. 'When one sees it straight, The self, the god, Lord of past and future, One does not shrink from it.

16. 'The one before whom The year revolves with its days The gods worship As the light of lights, immortal life.

17. 'The one in whom the five times five peoples And space too are established I honour as the self. Knowing brahman, the immortal, I am immortal.

18. 'Those who know the breath of the breath, The eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, The mind of the mind, have discovered The ancient supreme brahman.

19. It is to be seen only by mind: There are no differences in it. Whoever sees differences in it Gets death after death.

20. It is to be seen as one, Immeasurable, steadfast. The self is dustless, beyond space, Unborn, great, steadfast.

21. 'Knowing it, a wise Brahmana Should cultivate wisdom. He should not think on many words, For that is mere weariness of speech.'

22. It is the great, unborn self among the breaths that consists of knowledge. It lies in the space that is within the heart, controller of all, ruler of all, overlord of all. It does not become bigger by good actions, or smaller by bad ones. It is the lord of all, the overlord of beings, the protector of beings. It is the dam separating these worlds so that they do not run together. Or, 'holding these worlds so that they do not split apart Brahmanas try to find it through study of the Vedas, through sacrifice, through giving, through asceticism, through fasting: knowing it one becomes a silent one" (muni). Desiring it as their world, renouncers wander. Knowing it, the ancients did not desire offspring, for they thought, "What is offspring to us, when the self is our world?" Leaving behind desires for sons, desires for wealth and desires for worlds, they lived on alms. For desire for sons is desire for wealth, and desire for wealth is desire for worlds: both are merely desires. The self is "not this, not this". Unseizable, it is not seized; indestructible, it is not destroyed; without clinging, it is not clung to; unbound, it does not suffer, does not come to harm. It is not overcome by the thoughts, "Here I did wrong, here I did right": it overcomes both, and what has been done or not done does not burn it.

23. 'About this, the hymn says: Apparently not from the Rgveda, though the word re is used 'This eternal greatness of the Brahmana By works neither increases nor grows less. One should know its place: knowing it One is not smeared by evil works.

'So knowing this, and becoming calm, self-controlled, quiet, patient, and concentrated, he sees the self in himself, sees the self as all. Evil does not overcome him: he overcomes all evil. Evil does not burn him: he burns all evil. Without evil, without dust, free from doubt, he becomes a Brahmana. Socially speaking, Janaka is a Kshatriya, but in the spiritual sense he is a Brahmana, as one who knows brahman.This is the world of Brahma, Or Brahman your majesty: you have attained it� said Yajnavalkya.

'Blessed one, I give you the Videhas, and myself to be your slave.'

24. This is the great unborn self, eater of food, giver of wealth. The one who knows this finds wealth.

25. This is the great unborn self, unageing, undying, immortal, fearless, brahman, Brahman is fearless: the one who knows this becomes fearless brahman.

IV.5

1. Yajnavalkya had two wives, Maitreyi and Katyayani. Of the two, Maitreyi was a scholar of sacred lore (brahman), while Katyayani had just a woman's knowledge in it.Meaning not, I think, that Katyayam knows only what all women know', but that she knows what every priest's wife knows: what food and robes her husband will need for each ritual, etc. Now as Yajnavalkya was about to undertake another course of life�

2. 'Maitreyi,' said Yajnavalkya, �I am about to go forth from this state. I must make a settlement on you and Katyayani.'

3. Maitreyi said, 'Blessed one, if I had this whole earth, filled with riches, would I become immortal by it?' 'Oh, no, no,' said Yajnavalkya. 'Your life would be as the life of the wealthy, but there is no hope of immortality through riches.'

4. Maitreyi said, 'What use to me is something by which I cannot become immortal? Blessed one, teach me what you know.'

5. Yajnavalkya said, 'Ah, dear as you are to me, you have grown yet dearer. Come, sit down, I will teach you: but as I explain, meditate upon it.'

6. He said. It is not for the love of a husband that a husband is dear: it is for the love of the self that a husband is dear. It is not for the love of a wife that a wife is dear: it is for the love of the self that a wife is dear. It is not for the love of children that children are dear: it is for the love of the self that children are dear. It is not for the love of riches that riches are dear: it is for the love of the self that riches are dear. It is not for the love of cattle that cattle are dear: it is for the love of the self that cattle are dear. It is not for the love of priesthood that priesthood is dear: it is for the love of the self that priesthood is dear. It is not for the love of royalty that royalty is dear: it is for the love of the self that royalty is dear. It is not for the love of the worlds that the worlds are dear: it is for the love of the self that the worlds are dear. It is not for the love of the gods that the gods are dear: it is for the love of the self that the gods are dear. It is not for the love of the Vedas that the Vedas are dear: it is for the love of the self that the Vedas are dear. It is not for the love of beings that beings are dear: it is for the love of the self that beings are dear. It is not for the love of the all that the all is dear: it is for the love of the self that the all is dear. It is the self that must be seen, heard, thought of and meditated upon, Maitreyi: when the self has been seen, heard, thought of and meditated upon, all this is known.

7. 'Whoever understands priesthood as other than the self, priesthood has given him over. Whoever understands royalty as other than the self, royalty has given him over. Whoever understands the worlds as other than the self, the worlds have given him over. Whoever understands the gods as other than the self, the gods have given him over. Whoever understands the Vedas as other than the self, the Vedas have given him over. Whoever understands beings as other than the self, beings have given him over. Whoever understands the all as other than the self, the all has given him over. This priesthood, this royalty, these worlds, these gods, these Vedas, these beings, this all are what this self is.

8. 'As, when a drum is beaten, one cannot seize the sounds as something outside it, but by seizing the drum or the drummer one has seized the sound;

9. 'As, when a conch is blown, one cannot seize the sounds as something outside it, but by seizing the conch or the conch-blower one has seized the sound;

10. 'As, when a lute is played, one cannot seize the sounds as something outside it, but by seizing the lute or the lute-player one has seized the sound;

11. 'As smoke billows out in all directions from a fire that has been laid with damp fuel, just so is everything breathed out from this great being: the Rgveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, the hymns of the Atharvans and Angirases, history, legend, science, the Upanishads, verses, sutras, explanatory passages, expositions, sacrifice, offering, food, drink, this world, the other world, and all beings, all these are breathed out from it.

12. 'As the ocean is the one meeting-place of all waters, so the skin is the one meeting-place of all touches, the nostrils are the one meeting-place of all smells, the tongue is the one meeting-place of all tastes, the eye is the one meeting-place of all shapes, the ear is the one meeting-place of all sounds, the mind is the one meeting-place of all decisions, the heart is the one meeting-place of all knowledges, the hands are the one meeting-place of all works, the loins are the one meeting-place of all pleasures, the anus is the one meeting-place of all excretions, the feet are the one meeting-place of all roads, and the voice is the one meeting-place of all the Vedas.

13. 'As a lump of rock-salt is without an inside, without an outside, and consists entirely of taste, so this self is without an inside, without an outside, and consists entirely of wisdom. Having arisen from these elements, it vanishes along with them, for after it has departed there is no consciousness:Samjna that is what I say said Yajnavalkya.

14. Maitreyi said, 'Blessed one, you have brought me to extreme confusion: I do not understand this.' Masc., probably referring to the self He said, 'I do not speak to confuse you: this self is imperishable, of a nature (dharma) that cannot be destroyed.

15. �For where there is duality, one sees another, one smells another, one tastes another, one speaks to another, one hears another, one knows another. But where everything in one has become self, how can one see�and whom? How can one smell�and whom? How can one taste�and whom? How can one speak�and to whom? How can one hear�and whom? How can one think�and of whom? How can one touch�and whom? How can one know�and whom? The self is "not this, not this". Unseizable, it is not seized; indestructible, it is not destroyed; without clinging, it is not clung to; unbound, it does not suffer, does not come to harm. How can one know the knower? So now, Maitreyi, you have the teaching. This is immortality.' And so saying, Yajnavalkya departed.

IV.6

1. Now the lineage of the teaching, from Pautimasya.~ Pautimasya received it from Gaupavana, Gaupavana from Pautimasya, Pautimasya from Gaupavana, Gaupavana from KauSika, KauSika from Kaundinya, Kaundinya from Sandilya, Sgqdilya from Kausika and Gautama, Gautama

2. from AgniveSya, AgniveSya from Gargya, Gargya from Gargya, Gargya from Gautama, Gautama from Saitava, Saitava from ParBSaryayana, ParBSaiyayana from Gargyayana, Gargyayana from Uddalakayana, Uddalakayana from Jabalayana, JabalSyana from Madhyandinayana, MSdhyandinayana from Saukarayana, Saukarayana from Kasayana, Kasayana from Sayakayana, Sayakayana from KauSikayani, KauSikayani 3. from GhrtakauSika, GhrtakauSika from Para~aryayana, Para~aryayana from ParBSarya, P~raSarya from Jatukarnya, Jatukarnya from Asurayana and Yaska, Asurayana from Traivani, Traivani from Aupajandhani, Aupajandhani from Asuri, Asuri from Bharadvaja, Bharadvaja from Atreya, Atreya from Manti, Manti from Gautama, Gautama from Gautama, Gautama from Vatsya, Vatsya from Sandilya, Sandilya from KaiSorya Kapya, KaiSorya Kapya from Kumaraharita, Kumaraharita from Galava, Galava from Vidarbhi-Kaundmya, Vidarbhi-Kaundinya from Vatsanapat Babhrava, Vatsanapat Babhrava from Pathin Saubhara, Pathin Saubhara from Ayasya Angirasa, Ayasya Angirasa from Abhuti Tvastra, Abhuti Tvastra from ViSvarupa Tvastra, ViSvarQpa Tvastra from the ASvins, the ASvins from Dadhyac Atharvana, Dadhyac Atharvana from the Divine Atharvan, the Divine Atharvan from Mrtyu Pradhvamsana, Mrtyu Pradhvamsana from Pradhvairisana, Pradhvamsana from Ekarsi, Ekarsi from Vipracitti, Vipracitti from Vyasti, Vyasti from Sanaru, Sanaru from San~tana, Sanatana from Sanaga, Sanaga from Paramesthin, Paramesthin from brahman. Brahman is self-born: homage to brahman.




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