Tait­tiriya Upan­ishad’s In­quiry Into Creation

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Pranav Khullar

The di­a­logue be­tween Varuna and Bhrigu, which lies at the heart of the Tait­tiriya Upan­ishad, is per­haps the ear­li­est cos­mo­log­i­cal de­con­struc­tion of the con­cept of Brahmn. This suc­cinct open­ing in­struc­tion of Varuna posit­ing food, vi­tal force, eyes, ears, mind and speech as doors to the knowl­edge of Brahmn, sets the tone for Bhrigu’s ini­ti­a­tion. This anal­y­sis of Brahmn is de­tailed through the story of the young Bhrigu who has set out to seek the bliss of Brahmn.

Varuna in­structs him to do tapas, med­i­ta­tion, on do­ing which Bhrigu finds him­self con­sumed by the idea of anna, food, which nour­ishes and sus­tains all be­ings. Bhrigu re­alises this phys­i­cal­ity of food to be the first prin­ci­ple which per­vades all mat­ter and nour­ishes it, and un­der­stands this to be the phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion, the gross Cos­mic Vi­rat svarup, of Brahmn it­self. With this knowl­edge of the An­na­maya kosha, the phys­i­cal sheath, but with an in­com­plete feel­ing within him­self, Bhrigu goes back to his fa­ther to teach him the knowl­edge of Brahmn. But the teacher di­rects him to delve deeper into the ori­gin of food.

Bhrigu’s in­tro­spec­tion takes his mind deeper on the life-force, the vi­tal­ity throb­bing be­hind mat­ter, the prana, which en­er­gises all mat­ter, runs through all phys­i­cal sys­tems, as elec­tric­ity runs through the wires to gen­er­ate power. Bhrigu recog­nises this vi­tal­ity to be be­hind the phys­i­cal sheath, and this un­der­stand­ing of the Prana­maya kosha – the en­ergy-as­tral body as the next man­i­fes­ta­tion of Brahmn – sends him back to his fa­ther.

Find­ing his fa­ther non­com­mit­tal still, on the ques­tion of Brahmn, Bhrigu en­ters a third med­i­ta­tion to fo­cus on the sub­tler as­pects of this en­ergy, to go into the idea be­hind, which has trig­gered this vi­tal­ity. He re­alises that it is the mind it­self, which is pro­vid­ing the stim­uli for this vi­tal­ity, the men­tal sheath, which is the trig­ger for all senses of knowl­edge – still in­stinc­tual only, but em­a­nat­ing from the mind it­self. Bhrigu senses that the mind, too, is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of Brahmn, but is too scat­tered and in­com­plete.

His fourth med­i­ta­tion takes him into the more sub­tle form of the mind, the cog­ni­tive sheath which en­ables one to un­der­stand cause and ef­fect, an aware­ness which causes the mind to dis­tin­guish and dis­crim­i­nate. The man­i­fes­ta­tion of Brahmn as In­tel­lect ex­cites Bhrigu, for it takes him close to com­pre­hend­ing the real na­ture of things. He is then told to in­quire into the ori­gin of thought it­self.

His fifth and fi­nal med­i­ta­tion, at the be­hest of his fa­ther, awak­ens him to that in­ner space within, in which sat, ex­is­tence, and chitta, con­scious­ness, seem an­chored in an in­ner ex­pan­sive ananda, bliss. Brahmn man­i­fests as ev­ery atom of ex­is­tence and in each per­cep­tion of con­scious­ness, but these re­al­i­sa­tions may not nec­es­sar­ily make a soul happy and con­tented.

Bhrigu’s in­tense de­sire to know Brahmn leads him to that state of Anan­damaya kosha, bliss, which lies be­yond thought and de­sire. But im­por­tantly, it leads him to the re­al­i­sa­tion that the en­tire man­i­fest world, re­flects this bliss of Brahmn equally – the At­man, Self, man­i­fests it­self as five dif­fer­ent sheaths, five dif­fer­ent en­ergy-lev­els, each as es­sen­tial and cen­tral to the knowl­edge of Brahmn as the other. The Tait­tiriya’s in­quiry into creation is one of the most life-af­firm­ing con­tem­pla­tions of Vedanta. (The writer is joint sec­re­tary, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia)

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