Brhadaranyaka Upanishad:

The Great Forest Teaching:

Book Four Part I


IV.I

1. Janaka of Videha sat to give audience. Yajnavalkya approached him. Janaka said to him, 'Yajnavalkya, why have you come? Are you wanting cattle, or subtle arguments?' 'Both, your majesty,' he said.

2. 'Let us hear what someone has told you.' 'Jitvan Sailini told me that speech is Brahman.’ 'Sailini says what anyone would say who had a mother,

a father and a teacher to teach him, when he says that speech is brahman: for what would anyone have who could not speak? But did he tell you its dwelling and support?' 'He did not.' 'Then that is a one-footed Brahman Brahman understood, either in the sense of the reality to be understood or a formulation of teaching. your majesty.' 'So you tell us, Yajnavalkya.'

'Speech itself is its dwelling, space is its support. One should worship it as knowledge' What is the nature of this knowledge?'

'Speech itself, your majesty,' he said. 'By speech, your majesty, a friend is known. The Rgveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, the hymns of the Atharvans and Angirases, history, legend, science, the Upanisads, verses, sutras, explanatory passages, expositions, sacrifice, offering, food, drink, this world, the other world, and all beings are known by speech, your majesty: speech, your majesty, is indeed the supreme brahman. The one who knows this, and worships it as such, speech does not desert him; all beings flock to him; and becoming a god he goes to the gods.' 'I give you a thousand cows, with a bull like an elephant,'I give a thousand [cows] possessing an elephant-bull'. Olivelle takes as 'with an elephant and a bull' said Janaka of Videha.

Yajnavalkya said, 'My father used to say that one should not accept gifts without having taught.

3. 'Let us hear what someone has told you' ‘Udanka Saulbayana told me that the breath is brahman’. 'Saulbayana says what anyone would say who had a mother, a father and a teacher to teach him, when he says that the breath is brahman: for what would anyone have who could not breathe? But did he tell you its dwelling and support?' 'He did not.' 'Then that is a one-footed brahman, your majesty.' 'So you tell us, Yajnavalkya.'

'The breath itself is its dwelling, space is its support. One should worship it as the dear.' 'What is its dearness?'

'The breath itself, your majesty,' he said. 'For love of the breath, your majesty, one offers sacrifice for someone for whom one should not offer sacrifice, one accepts gifts from someone from whom one should not accept gifts. For love of the breath, your majesty, in whatever direction one goes, there exists the fear of being killed.Vadha, killing (specifically execution), in legal texts also covering other forms of corporal punishment. (From vadh-, to strike, to kill.) The breathe your majesty, is indeed the supreme brahman. The one who knows this, and worships it as such, the breath does not desert him; all beings flock to him; and becoming a god he goes to the gods.’

I give you a thousand cows, with a bull like an elephant,' said Janaka of Videha.

Yajnavalkya said, 'My father used to say that one should not accept gifts without having taught.

4. 'Let us hear what someone has told you’ 'Barku Varsna told me that the eye is brahman’ 'Varsna says what anyone would say who had a mother, a father and a teacher to teach him, when he says that the eye is brahman: for what would anyone have who could not see? But did he tell you its dwelling and support?' 'He did not.' 'Then that is a one-footed brahman, your majesty.' 'So you tell us, Yajnavalkya.'

'The eye itself is its dwelling, space is its support. One should worship it as truth.' 'What is its trueness?'

'The eye itself, your majesty,' he said. 'For when someone sees with the eye, your majesty, and they ask him, 'Have you seen it?', and he says, 1 have seen it,' that is the truth. The eye, your majesty, is indeed the supreme brahman. The one who knows this, and worships it as such, the eye does not desert him; all beings flock to him; and becoming a god he goes to the gods.'

I give you a thousand cows, with a bull like an elephant,' said Janaka of Videha.

Yajnavalkya said, 'My father used to say that one should not accept gifts without having taught.

5. 'Let us hear what someone has told you.' 'Gardhabhivipita Bharadvaja told me that the ear is brahman’

'Bharadvaja says what anyone would say who had a mother, a father and a teacher to teach him, when he says that the ear is brahman: for what would anyone have who could not hear? But did he tell you its dwelling and support?'

'He did not.'

'Then that is a one-footed brahman, your majesty.' 'So you tell us, Yajnavalkya.'

'The ear itself is its dwelling, space is its support. One should worship it as the endless.' 'What is its endlessness?'

'The ear itself, your majesty,' he said. 'That is why, your majesty, whatever direction one goes in one never reaches the end of it. The directions are endless, and the directions, your majesty, are the ear. The ear, your majesty, is indeed the supreme brahman. The one who knows this, and worships it as such, the ear does not desert him; all beings flock to him; and becoming a god he goes to the gods.'

‘I give you a thousand cows, with a bull like an elephant,' said Janaka of Videha.

Yajnavalkya said, 'My father used to say that one should not accept gifts without having taught.

6. 'Let us hear what someone has told you.' 'Satyakama Jabala told me that the mind is brahman’ 'Jabala says what anyone would say who had a mother, a father and a teacher to teach him, when he says that speech is brahman: for what would anyone have who had no mind? But did he tell you its dwelling and support?' 'He did not.' 'Then that is a one-footed brahman, your majesty.' 'So you tell us, Yajnavalkya.'

'The mind itself is its dwelling, space is its support. One should worship it as joy.' 'What is its joyfulness?'

'The mind itself, your majesty,' he said. 'Through the mind, your majesty, one is attracted to a woman, and of her a son is born who looks like oneself. That is joy. The mind, your majesty, is indeed the supreme brahman. The one who knows this, and worships it as such, the mind does not desert him; all beings flock to him; and becoming a god he goes to the gods.'

‘I give you a thousand cows, with a bull like an elephant,' said Janaka of Videha.

Yajnavalkya said, 'My father used to say that one should not accept gifts without having taught.

7. 'Let us hear what someone has told you.' 'Vidagdha Sakalya told me that the heart is brahman,'

'Sakalya says what anyone would say who had a mother, a father and a teacher to teach him, when he says that the heart is brahman: for what would anyone have who had no heart? But did he tell you its dwelling and support?' 'He did not.' 'Then that is a one-footed brahman, your majesty.'

'So you tell us, Yajnavalkya.'

'The heart itself is its dwelling, space is its support. One should worship it as steadfastness.' 'What is the nature of this steadfastness?' 'The heart itself, your majesty,' he said. 'For the heart, your majesty, is the dwelling of all beings; the heart, your majesty, is the support of all beings. The heart, your majesty, is indeed the supreme brahman. The one who knows this, and worships it as such, the heart does not desert him; all beings flock to him; and becoming a god he goes to the gods.'

‘I give you a thousand cows, with a bull like an elephant,' said Janaka of Videha.

Yajnavalkya said, 'My father used to say that one should not accept gifts without having taught.'

IV.2

1. Janaka of Videha came quietly down from his throne and said, 'Homage to you, Yajnavalkya: teach me!' He said, 'Your majesty, as one about to go on a great voyage would get hold of a chariot or a ship, so you have a self well prepared by these inner teachings (Upanishad). You are a leader of men, wealthy: you have studied the Vedas and heard the inner teachings. When you are released from here, where will you go?' 'Blessed one, I do not know where I shall go? 'Then I will tell you where you will go’ ‘Tell me, blessed one’

2. "The person in the right eye is called Indha. 'The Kindled’ Though he is Indha, folk call him Indra, mysteriously, because the gods seem to love the mysterious, and hate the obvious.

3. 'The form of a person in the left eye is his wife, Viraj. The Queen The place where they meet in praise together is the space within the heart, and their food is the lump of blood within the heart. The path they travel together is the channel that goes upward from the heart. Its channels called hita, like a hair divided into a thousand parts, are established within the heart: through them flows whatever flows. So that self is an eater of choicer food than the bodily self.

4. 'The eastern direction is its eastward breaths; the southern direction, its southward breaths; the western direction, its westward breaths; the northern direction, its northward breaths; the direction above, its upward breaths; the direction below, its downward breaths; all directions, all its breaths. 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. You have attained fearlessness, Janaka’ said Yajnavalkya.

Janaka of Videha said, 'May fearlessness come to you, Yajnavalkya, since you, blessed one, make us see fearlessness. Homage to you! Here are the Videhas, and here am I, at your service.' Phrase added for clarity. Countries such as Videha are at this date seen primarily in terms of their people: the Videhas

IV.3

1. Yajnavalkya went to Janaka of Videha, intending not to teach. But once when Janaka of Videha and Yajfiavalkya spoke together about the Agnihotra, Yajnavalkya had granted him a boon. 'Once' is added for clarity. The reference is to an occasion mentioned in SBr 11.6.2.10, when, after the king had taught him about the symbolism of the Agnihotra, Yajnavalkya granted him this boon. The king chose to ask any question he desired, and Yajnavalkya granted it to him. So the first question he asked him was:

2. 'Yajnavalkya, what light has a man (purusa)?' 'He has the sun as his light. With the sun as his light he sits, goes about, does his work and returns.' 'So it is, Yajnavalkya.

3. 'When the sun has set, Yajnavalkya, what light has a man?'

'He has the moon as his light. With the moon as his light he sits, goes about, does his work and returns.' 'So it is, Yajnavalkya.

4. 'When the sun has set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon has set, what light has a man?'

'Fire is his light. With fire as his light he sits, goes about, does his work and returns.' 'So it is, Yajnavalkya.

5. 'When the sun has set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon has set, and fire has gone out, what light has a man?' 'Speech is his light. With speech as his light he sits, goes about, does his work and returns. That is why, your majesty, even when one cannot see one's own hand, when speech is uttered, one goes towards it.' 'So it is, Yajnavalkya.

'So it is, Yajnavalkya.

6. 'When the sun has set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon has set, and fire has gone out, and speech has fallen silent, what light has a man?'

'The self (atman) is his light. With the self as his light he sits, goes about, does his work and returns.'

7. 'What is the self?'

'The person (purusa) among the breaths who consists of knowledge, the inner light in the heart. Remaining the same, he travels the two worlds, seems to think, seems to move about. Falling asleep, he goes beyond this world, the forms of death.

8. 'When the person is born and gets a body he is joined with evils. Leaving it, when he dies, he leaves evils behind.

9. 'The person has two states, this one and the state of the other world. The third, intermediate, state, is that of dreaming sleep. Dreaming is added for clarity. When he rests in the intermediate state, he sees both states, this one and the state of the other world. When he has gone by whatever way it is that one gains the state of the other world, he sees both evils and joys. When he falls asleep, he takes with him the material of this all-containing world, himself breaks it up, himself re-makes it. He sleeps by his own radiance, his own light. Here the person becomes lit by his own light.

10. 'There are no chariots, nor chariot-horses, nor roads there, but he creates Emits them from himself, as a god does chariots, chariot-horses and roads. There are no pleasures, nor enjoyments, nor delights there, but he creates pleasures, enjoyments and delights. There are no ponds, nor lotus-pools, nor rivers there, but he creates ponds, lotus-pools and rivers. For he is a maker.

11. 'There are these verses about it:

'Overcoming with sleep the bodily part, Unsleeping he looks down upon the sleeping. Taking his light he returns to The sleeping is plural, probably referring to the pranas—senses and other bodily functions. his place The golden person, the goose who flies alone. Eka-hamsa, 'the one goose', a sacred bird, whose symbolism comes from both its beauty and its long migratory flights. In ancient Indian literature, harnsa always means 'goose', never 'swan' or 'flamingo', as it is often translated.  Specifically, harnsa or rajhamsa is a mainly white form of the Indian goose (Anser indicus)f while kalahamsa [rajahamsa] is the greylag goose (Anser anser). In Celtic Christianity, the wild goose is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Rev. Dr. Tony Ellis, in conversation: for a contemporary example of its use in worship.

12. 'Guarding with the breath his nest below, Immortal he roves outside his nest. Immortal he goes wherever he desires, The golden person, the goose who flies alone.

13. In the dream state, going high and low, A god, he creates many forms. Enjoying himself with women, laughing, Or even seeing dreadful sights.

14. 'They see his pleasure, But him nobody sees.

'That is why they say, "You should not wake him suddenly", for a cure is hard to find for someone if it  i.e. the purusa. does not get back to him. Some say that this is just the same as his waking state, since he sees when asleep the same objects that he sees when awake: but they are wrong, for in this state he is lit by his own light.'

'Blessed one, I give you a thousand cows: speak on, for my liberation. Olivelle takes as ‘for your liberation (i.e. from the boon—cp. Katha 1.11 note)': 'You'll have to tell me more than that to get yourself released.'

15. 'When he has taken pleasure in deep sleep, Susupta, dreamless sleep, as distinct from svapna, dreaming sleep. when he has travelled about in it and seen both good and evil, he runs back again, back where he began, to dream. Whatever he sees there, he is not followed by it, for the person is without attachment.'

'So it is, Yajnavalkya. Blessed one, I give you a thousand cows: speak on, for my liberation.'

16. 'When he has taken pleasure in dream, when he has traveled about in it and seen both good and evil, he runs back again, back where he began, to the waking state. Whatever he sees there, he is not followed by it, for the person is without attachment.'

'So it is, Yajnavalkya. Blessed one, I give you a thousand cows: speak on, for my liberation.'

17. 'When he has taken pleasure in the waking state, when he has traveled about in it and seen both good and evil, he runs back again, back where he began, to the dream state.

18. 'As a great fish travels along both banks, the nearer and the farther, even so the person travels along both states, the dream state and the waking state.

19. 'As a hawk or eagle, tired after flying around in the sky, folds its wings and is carried to its roosting-place, even so the person runs to the state where he desires no desire and dreams no dream.

20. 'There are in him channels called hita, in minuteness like a hair divided into a thousand parts, filled with white, blue, yellow, green and red. When In dream it seems that folk kill him or overcome him, or an elephant tramples him, or he falls down a hole, he is imagining through ignorance whatever danger he has seen while waking: but when, like a god or a king, he thinks, "I am this! I am all!", that is his highest world.

21. 'That is the form of him which is beyond craving, freed from evil, without fear. As a man closely embraced by a beloved wife knows nothing outside, nothing inside, so the person, closely embraced by the self of wisdom, knows nothing outside, nothing inside. That is the form of him in which his desires are fulfilled, with the self as his desire, free from desire, beyond sorrow.

22. 'Here a father is not a father, a mother is not a mother, the worlds are not the worlds, the Vedas are not the Vedas. Here a thief is not a thief, a murderer not a murdererBhrunaha, said to be the killer either of an embryo, or of a learned Brahmana: both being regarded as particularly heinous crimes. , a Candala not a Candala, a Paulkasa not a Paulkasa, a monk not a monk, an ascetic not an ascetic. There is no following by good, no following by evil, for then he has passed beyond all sorrows of the heart.

23. 'Though then he does not see, yet seeing he does not see. There is no cutting off of the seeing of the seer, because it is imperishable.  Or, 'because he is imperishable': literally, because of imperishability'. But there is no second, no other, separate from himself, that he-might see.

24. 'Though then he does not smell, yet smelling he does not smell. There is no cutting off of the smelling of the smeller, because it is imperishable. But there is no second, no other, separate from himself, that he might smell.

25. 'Though then he does not taste, yet tasting he does not taste. There is no cutting off of the tasting of the taster because it is imperishable. But there is no second, no other separate from himself, that he might taste.

26. "Though then he does not speak, yet speaking he doe not speak. There is no cutting off of the speaking of the speaker, because it is imperishable. But there is no second no other, separate from himself, to which he might speak 27. 'Though then he does not hear, yet hearing he doe not hear. There is no cutting off of the hearing of the hearer because it is imperishable. But there is no second, no other separate from himself, that he might hear.

28. 'Though then he does not think, yet thinking he doe not think. There is no cutting off of the thinking of the thinker, because it is imperishable. But there is no second no other, separate from himself, of which he might think

29. 'Though then he does not touch, yet touching he doe not touch. There is no cutting off of the touching of the toucher, because it is imperishable. But there is no second no other, separate from himself, that he might touch.

30. 'Though then he does not know, yet knowing he doe not know. There is no cutting off of the knowing of the knower, because it is imperishable. But there is no second no other, separate from himself, that he might know.

31. 'When there seems to be another, one can see another smell another, taste another, speak to another, hear another smell another, taste another, speak to another, hear another think of another, touch another, know another.

32. 'He becomes one, water, a seer without duality. This is the world of Brahman your majesty.' yajnavalkya taught him:

  • This is his highest way;
  • This is his highest fulfilment;
  • This is his highest world;
  • This is his highest joy.
'All other beings live on a tiny portion of this joy.

33. 'If someone among human beings is healthy, prosperous, a lord over others, fully endowed with all human enjoyments, that is the highest joy of human beings. A hundred joys of human beings make one joy of the ancestors who have won their world. A hundred joys of the ancestors who have won their world make one joy in the world of the gandharvas. A hundred joys in the world of the gandharvas make one joy of the gods by action. Who have achieved their godhead by their actions. A hundred joys of the gods by action make one joy of the gods by birth, and of one who is learned, straightforward, and not afflicted by desire. A hundred joys of the gods by birth make one joy in the world of Prajapati, and of one who is learned, straightforward, and not afflicted by desire. A hundred joys in the world of Prajapati make one joy in the world of Brahma, and of one who is learned, straightforward, and not afflicted by desire. This is the highest joy: this is the world of Brahma, your majesty,' said Yajnavalkya.

'Blessed one, I give you a thousand cows: speak on, for my liberation.' Then Yajnavalkya was afraid, thinking, 'This king is clever: he has driven me out of all my territories!'

34. 'When he has taken pleasure in dream, when he has traveled about in it and seen both good and evil, he runs back again, back where he began, to the waking state.

35. 'As a heavily loaded cart goes along creaking, so this bodily self, ridden by the self which is wisdom, goes along creaking when it is breathing its last.

36. 'When it grows weak—whether it becomes weak through old age or through illness—then, just as a mango or fig or pippala-berry is loosed from its stalk, the person is released from these limbs and runs back again, back where he began, to the breath.

37. 'Just as, when a king approaches, officers, magistrates, charioteers and village headman await him with food, drink and lodgings, crying “He approaches! He is coming !”, in the same way, all beings await this brahman, crying , “It approchaes! It is coming!”

38. ‘Just as, when a king wishes to go back, officers, magistrates, charioteers and village headman accompany him, so to the end all the breaths come together with the self when it is breathing its last.’




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