Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad

Now on to the Shukla Yajur Veda related Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad, the most significant and voluminous Six Chaptered treatise with as many as forty Brahmanas or sections. The first chapter with six Brahmanas describes the first ever ‘Ashvamedha Yagna’ with Hiranygarbha’s own body as the Sacrifice and the resultant Creation of the Universe initially of Devaasura Srishti and the origin of ‘Udgita’ a powerful medium to control evil forces. Prajapati the Over Lord of the Universe emerges as ‘Ahamasmi’ or I am Myself and manifests Purusha and Prakriti from himself; besides Upa Devas like Rudraadityas; the Prajapati pair creates fathers and mothers, praana, food, rituals, mind, speech and naama-rupa-karma or the name-form-work of the Individual Self. The Second Chapter of six Brahmanas opens with the samvada of King Ajatashatru and Balaki Gargya analysing the concept of Brahman, step by step as also the origin of human beings with body parts and sensory organs, mortal and immortal ‘swarupas’ of Individual Selves and of the Supreme. Yagnyavalkya-Maitreyi samvaada about materail wealth vis-à-vis spiritual knowledge as the Maharshi seeks to divide his properties among the two wives Maitreyi and Katyayani. Maitreyi protests and opts for Realisation of the UltimateTruth. Dadhyan Rishi then seeks to teach Madu Vidya or the Doctrine of Honey even as Ashvini Devas assume horse heads since this Vidya teaches the unique link of the Antratma the Individual Self and Paramatma. The Third Chaper with nine Brahmanas deals in great detail with the wordy duel of Yagjnyavalkya-Ashwala at the horse sacrifice of King Janaka declaring that at that massive congregation of Vidwans, the outsanding one among them would be gifted thousand cows if the best explanation could be offered about human bondage – death- transmigration of souls and either return for rebirth or enjoyment of stay in higher lokas albeit for prescribed stays there or even achievement of Sayujya- all depending one’s own karma phala and paapa punya accounts. The further requirement of the gift would have to explain the Antaratma- Paramatma equation most logically. On hearing the announcement by the King, Maharshi Yagjnyavalkya coolly asked a disciple to drive the thousand cows to his house. There was acute and alround resentment in the congregation about the audacity of the Maharshi. Thus commeced the wordy duel between Ashvala and Yagjnyavalkya and the Maharshi was finally declared victorious in the samvada as the Maharshi was on defensive yet profound and the rest of the congregation was on the offensive! The Maharshi explained how the subtle entity of Antaratma and the body organs cun senses were interwoven with Paramatma by Praana the link as the warf and woof of a cloth ie the subtle entity with Five Elements , body parts and senses and the Kaala maana or the past-present and future ! Ygnyvalkya-Shakalya samvada followed about the worship worthy Devas, Rudra Aditya-Vasus, Indra and Prajapati, besides Matter, Vitak Force and so on. The Fourth Chapter of six Brahmanas refines the concepts of body, heart, and the link of esistence of Individual Self and the Supremne. Maharshi Yagnyavalkya who having completed an animal Sacrifice opened a discussion at the Court of Emperor of Videha; the Maharshi then quoted from Jitwan the son of Silina that the organ of speech dovetailed with Agni Deva was Brahman, then he quoted from Udanka the son of Shulba that Vayu or Air the Vital Force, then he quoted from Gardabhivipita of the famed Bharadwaja clan that the comprehension of hearing by ears as epitomised by Dishas or Directions would be Brahman; finally the Maharshi quoted Satyakaama the son of Jaabaala asserted that Manas controlled by Chandra Deva was Brahman; finally the Maharshi quoted Vidagdha the son of Shakala that Heart as represented by Prajapati Himself was the abode of Brahman. In each of the above references, the Emperor expressed appreciation since each of the faculties and the ruling Deities were highly worthy of appreciation and each time he sought to gift thousand cows and a bull. But the Maharshi declined since Janaka was the Maharshi’s sishya. Then as the discussion became rather serious the mutual session became rather private and at the request of Janaka, the Maharshi explained the proven identity of the Self and the Supreme were mutual reflections; that identityof the two entities despite the contexts of awaken and dream stages was certain and that mortal’s life in the final stage be described as a caterpillar would reach the edge of a grass but would seek to hold another grass piece for support and jump over! The Emperor was ovewhelmed with the teaching of the Maharshi and having prostrated before the Maharshi offered the Throne itself! The Fifth Chapter of the Upanishad with as many as fifteen Brahmanas opens up with the causative fullness and derivative causation or the Cause and Effect Analysis stating: OM/ Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnaat purnamudachyate, Purnasya Purnamaadaaya Purnameva-avashishyate/ Para Brahma is full and total; this Antaratma or the Individual Self Consciousness if full and total too. From ‘Karyatmaka Purnatwa’ or this causative fullness is manifested into the fullness of ‘Karanaatmaka Purnatwa’ or the derivative fullness. In other words, the Individual Self shrouded by the screen of Ignorance or Unawareness due all over its bodily form and sensual form,gets identified and unified to Fullness.In other words the above Mantra describes that from infinite cause the infinite effect is evidenced or from Infinite Universe, Infinite Brhaman is evidenced or Asatomaasadgamaya or From Non-Reality to Reality or From Darkness to Luminosity! The Chapter futher states that Damayita-Daana-Daya or Control-Charity-Compassion are three seeds of virtue. May Prajapati bless the mortals in their efforts; may His hri-da-ya or happiness- powers and benedictions to his trusted followers- be bestowed! Since Prajapati’s heart qauilifies the Beings likewise, he provides Jnaana or Knowledge to them and the resultant Sat-Yat or the Murtha or Gross and Amurta or Subtle Rupas of Brahman ie. the gross form by way of Pancha Bhutatmika Jagat leading to Arishad vargas and their remedies of ‘Saadhana’ and ‘Satkarma’! Indeed Brahman manifests as Water-Sun-and Bhur-Bhuva-Swah while Mind of an Individual is the key indicator of the Truth and Untruth or Reality and Falsity. The aspects of Brahman are in varied forms such as: Vidyut Brahman or Lightnings, Vaak Brahman or Speech signifying Veda and Scriptures, Vaishvaanara or Agni, Vaaya Brahman and so on. Now human beings are thus motivated to realise Him by austerities, detachment, Gayatri worship, meditation to Praana the Universal Energy by Ukta Gita, intense meditation to Surya, Agni, Vayu and so on as these all are the ramifications of the Unknown. The Sixth and Final Chapter of Brihadaaranyaka of five Brahmanas deals with the samvada of Pravahana Jaabali and Gautama on the travel pattern of a Good Soul after death as per ‘karma phala’ enter the smoke zone of ether and travek to Pitru-Chandraadi Lokas and after enjoying the company of Devas and after stipulated time return back to earth through ether/ rain as destined as a plant, insect, bird, animal or a human again. This last chapter describes the methodology of Agni Karyas of offering mantha or paste of fig wood and herbs/grains with devotion and faith as oblations to Prajapati, Surya, Chandra, Praana Deva etc. Procreation duties of man and woman on the pattern of Yagna with Fire, Wood and other Tools herald the arrival of a child and ceremonies follow suit. The lineage of Guru-Shishyas of the yore as traced back to Prajapati and Swyambhu Brahma Himself: Prajapatih Braahmanaah Brahma swayambhuh, Brahmane namah/

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at