Taittiriya Upanishad

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The Knower of Brahman

Aum. He who knows Brahman attains the Supreme.

On the above, the following mantra (Rik) is recorded:

"He who knows Brahman which is Reality,
Knowledge, and Infinity
hidden in the cave of the heart and
in the highest akasa
—he, being one with the omniscient Brahman,
enjoys simultaneously all desires.
"

From that Atman (Brahman) was born akasa; from akasa, air; from air, fire; from fire, water; from water, earth; from earth, herbs; from herbs, food; from food, man.
He, that man, verily consists of the essence of food. This indeed is his head, this [right arm] is his right wing, this [left arm] is his left wing, this [trunk] is his body (atman), this support [below the navel] is his tail. (2.1.3)

 

Commentary:

HE WHO... : The word Supreme denotes Brahman Itself. Etymologically, the word Brahman means greatest ['to expand']. The knower of Brahman attains Brahman because through knowing a certain thing the knower does not attain something else. Compare: "He who knows the Supreme Brahman verily becomes Brahman." (Mu. Up. III. ii. 9.)

ATTAINS THE SUPREME...: It may be asked how, if Brahman is the all-pervading Reality and the inmost essence of all, It can be attained or reached. Only a limited entity can attain another limited entity. The reply is that the word attains is here used in a figurative sense. Though the individual soul is one with Brahman, on account of ignorance it identifies itself with the limited physical body and thus regards itself as other than Brahman. Thus, though Brahman is the real self of the embodied creature, It remains, as it were, un-attained by him. When, however, his ignorance is destroyed, he discovers that his true nature is Brahman and he is said to have attained Brahman. The text indicates the fruit of the Knowledge of Brahman, which is the destruction of ignorance and the complete cessation of the transmigratory existence. The knower of Brahman goes beyond fear.

WHICH IS REALITY . . . INFINITY: The words "Brahman, which is Reality, Knowledge, and Infinity" give the complete definition of Brahman. The three words Reality (Satyam), Knowledge (Jnanam), Infinity (Anantam) are the qualifying adjuncts of the substratum Brahman. These three adjuncts are independent of one another and directly connected with Brahman; that is to say, Brahman is Satyam, Brahman is Jnanam, and Brahman is Anantam.

REALITY: A thing is called real if it always remains the same and never deviates from what has been proved to be its true nature. The real is the opposite of the unreal, which is changeable. Thus an effect is called unreal, for it does not possess an unchanging nature. Although articles made of clay undergo change in regard to name and form, their cause, the clay, remains the same and is therefore called real. From this it follows that Brahman, being the cause, in real.

KNOWLEDGE : If Brahman is the cause, it may be contended, It also is the agent. Further, being a substance, like clay, It may be material in nature. In order to remove this misapprehension, Brahman is qualified by the 'word Jnanam, which denotes that Brahman is Knowledge, that is to say, absolute awareness or intelligence. It is not the knower or the agent of knowing, but Knowledge itself.

INFINITY : The above position is further strengthened by the qualifying word Anantam, Infinity. That is called infinite which is not limited by anything else. A knower is limited by the object of knowledge and the act of knowing. Compare : "Where one sees nothing else, . . . understands nothing else—that is the Infinite. Where one sees something else,... understands something else—that is the finite." (Chh. Up. VII. xxiv. 1.) Thus the word Satyam negates all changes and modifications in Brahman, the word Jnanam negates the idea of agency, and the word Anantam negates the idea of limitation.

CAVE . . . HEART: That is to say, the buddhi, or intellect, in which lie hidden the categories of knower, knowledge, and knowable. The ends of life, namely, enjoyment of the world and Liberation, also lie hidden in the buddhi.

HIGHEST AKASA: That is to say, the unmanifest (avyakrita). The akasa in the heart is called the highest because it is an aid to meditation on Brahman and knowledge of It.

ENJOYS . . . DESIRES: The enlightened sage does not, like ordinary mortals, enjoy one desire after another. He enjoys them simultaneously. He becomes Brahman and, like Brahman, experiences all things at the same time. The ignorant man has only partial experience. He puts on different bodies as the result of his past karma, becomes a jiva, and enjoys his desires through the sense-organs.

ATMAN: The word refers to Brahman. Compare: "That is the True. That is the Self." (Chh. Up. VI. viii. 7.)

WAS BORN: From the standpoint of Brahman, Brahman alone exists. It is changeless, non-dual, neither a cause nor an effect. Therefore it cannot be maintained that anything is really born of Brahman. From the standpoint of Brahman one cannot speak of creation. We speak of creation only from the standpoint of the relative world, which is conjured up by avidya. Therefore avidya alone, which inheres in Brahman as Its creative power, is the cause of creation.

He who knows the Bliss of Brahman, whence all words together with the mind turn away, unable to reach it—he never fears. (2.4.1)

Commentary:
The true nature of the mind cannot be known either by words or by the mind itself. The mind which seeks to know the mind is only a mental state (vritti). Hence the mind remains unknown to the mind.

The mind is, in essence, one with the Cosmic Mind, or Hiranyagarbha (the first manifestation of Saguna Brahman), who is the highest manifestation of Brahman in the relative world. That is why it is said that he who contemplates the sheath of the mind as Brahman has nothing to be afraid of; he attains the World of Hiranyagarbha.

“The intellect accomplishes the sacrifice; it also accomplishes all actions. All the gods worship the intellect, who is the eldest, as Brahman.”

“If a man knows the intellect as Brahman and if he does not swerve from it, he leaves behind in the body all evils and attains all his desires.” (2.5.1)

“If a person knows Brahman as non—existent, he himself becomes non—existent. If he knows Brahman as existent, then know him as existent.”
This is the embodied soul of the former.

Thereupon the following questions of the pupil: Does anyone who knows not attain that World after departing this life? Or does he who knows attain that World after departing this life?

He desired: “May I be many, may I be born. He performed austerities. Having performed austerities, He created all this— whatever there is. Having created all this, He entered into it.

Having entered into it, He became both the manifested and the unmanifested, both the defined and undefined, both the supported and unsupported, both the intelligent and the non— intelligent, both the real and the unreal. The Satya became all this: whatever there is. Therefore call It the True. (2.6.1)

"In the beginning all this (i.e. the manifested universe) was nonexistent. From it was born what exists. That (i.e. Brahman described as non-existent) created Itself by Itself; therefore It is called the Self-made (Sukritam)."

That which is Self-made is flavour (rasa, or essence); for truly, on obtaining the flavour one becomes blissful.

Who could direct the prana and the apana [to perform their functions] if this Bliss (Brahman) did not exist in the akasa [of the heart] ? Brahman verily exists because It alone bestows bliss.

When a man finds fearless support in That which is invisible, incorporeal, indefinable, and supportless, he has then obtained fearlessness.

If he makes the slightest differentiation in It, there is fear for him. That [Brahman] becomes [the cause of] fear for the knower [of differentiation] who does not reflect. (2.7.1)

Harih Om. Bhrigu, the son of Varuna, approached his father Varuna and said: "Venerable Sir, teach me about Brahman."

To him, the son, he said this: "Food, the vital breath, the eye, the ear, the mind, speech."

To him he said further: "That from which these beings are born, That by which, when born, they live, That into which they enter, they merge—seek to know That. That is Brahman."

He performed austerities. Having performed austerities— (3.1.1)

He realised that food is Brahman; for from food, verily, are these beings born; by food, when born, do they live; into food do they enter, do they merge.

Having realised this, he approached his father again and said: "Venerable Sir, teach me Brahman."

To him, the son, he said this: "Seek to know Brahman by means of austerities. For austerities are the means of knowing Brahman."

He practised austerities. Having practised austerities— (3.2.1)

He realised that the prana is Brahman; for from the prana, verily, are these beings born; by the prana, when born, do they live; into the prana do they enter, do they merge.

Having realised this, he approached his father again and said: "Venerable Sir, teach me Brahman."

To him, the son, he said this: "Seek to know Brahman by means of austerities. For austerities are the means of knowing Brahman." He practised austerities. Having practised austerities— (3.3.1)

He realised that the mind is Brahman; for from the mind, verily, are these beings born; by the mind, when born, do they live; into the mind, at the time of dissoulution, do they enter, do they merge.

Having realised this, he approached his father again and said: "Venerable Sir, teach me Brahman."

To him, the son, he said this: "Seek to know Brahman by means of austerities; for austerities are Brahman."

He practised austerities. Having practised austerities— (3.4.1)

Brahman is Bliss (Ananda)

He realized that bliss (Ananda) is Brahman;
for from bliss, verily, are these beings born;
by bliss, when born, do they live;
into bliss [at the time of dissolution] do they enter,
do they merge.

This is the wisdom taught by Varuna and learnt by Bhrigu. It is established in the supreme akasa [in the heart]. He who knows this is established in the Bliss of Brahman. He becomes a possessor of food and an eater of food. He becomes great in offspring and cattle and in spiritual radiance, and great in fame. (3.6.1)

Commentary:
The Bliss of Brahman, which is experienced through the non-duality of existence and is the bestower of Freedom. Bliss is devoid of pain and constitutes man's true end. It is defined thus in the Chhandogya Upanishad'. "The Infinites is bliss. There is no bliss in anything finite." (7.23.) It is from bliss that all phenomena, including akasa and the other elements, are born.

All finite truths, such as matter (food), life (prana), the mind, and the intellect, find their fulfilment in the bliss experienced through the Knowledge of Brahman dwelling in the heart.

* Commentary by Swami Nikhilananda

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