Brahmopanishad III- The poetry part

{To Read Author’s General Note click here }

(Contd… from Part II)

In the first part of the Upanishad the origin of life is dealt with. Praana or aerobic life is considered an important evolutionary state.

In the second part the Upanishad, it is said that Brahman covers all states of existence (waking and sleep and REM). Brahman includes all the gods, like Sun, Vishnu and Rudra.  Brahman includes in himself space. Brahman is neither inclusive nor exclusive of human concepts/perceptions.

In this part it is shown that Brahman transcends rituals. Brahman is considered more sacred for the Brahmins than the thread or the shika they are obliged to wear as part of their obligatory duties. The thread of Brahman is holier than the thread of the Brahmins.

The original Upanishad is not divided. But it falls easily into the divisions given here.

1. All the gods are located in the heart. So are all the praanaas. Praana, the (divine) light, the three-fold string (that holds the creation and universe) and the principle of Mahat (Cosmic intelligence) are located in the heart. It exists in the heart as the Cosmic Consciousness. 

(The heart is symbolic of the centrality of the location. It need not be taken literally.)

2. The sacrificial thread (Yagnyopaveetam) is very sacred. It was first created with the Prajapati. It symbolizes longevity, eminence and purity. May it confer strength and puissance!

(It is implied that the thread is symbolic of the three-fold string that holds the universe referred to above.)

3. The wise one discards the sacred thread and the tuft of hair. He should wear the non-decaying Supreme Brahman as the thread.

(One seeks the Supreme and rejects the sacred symbols that represent existential conditioning.)

4. In Brahman the universe is strung like gems on a thread. The self-realized person, learned in yoga, wears only the supreme thread.

(The self-realized person transcends social vanity.)

5. The learned one understands the supreme yoga and discards the external symbol (of purity).  He wears only the thread suffused by the manifestation of the Supreme Brahman. He is the one well versed in Yoga. He understands the sublime Truth.

6. Those who wear the (supreme) thread are not afflicted by garbage (refuse) and dirt (absence of cleanliness). The thread they wear is internal. Knowledge (of the Supreme) is their yagnyopavita (thread).

7. They are the (only) ones who know the (Supreme) thread and who wear (supreme) knowledge as their thread. Supreme knowledge is their holy tuft of hair. They are regulated by supreme knowledge. They are the ones who wear (supreme) knowledge as their thread.

8. For them Supreme knowledge is the highest and purest (of all things to be known). Their holy tuft is Knowledge just as the flame is (the tuft on the crown) for fire. They are to be known as ‘tufted ones’. Those who are learned in worldly arts (at the expense of the Supreme) carry just ordinary hair (on their head). 

9. Brahmins and others authorized to perform rituals should wear this thread (of knowledge of Brahman). This is to be thought as part of the ordained rituals.

10. The seers who know Brahman call a person a ‘Brahmana’ when the latter’s shika or hair in the crown of his head is characterized by the knowledge of Brahman. His sacred thread is similarly described. He is Brahmanyam or ‘Brahmanahood’ personified. Everything about him is so characterized.

(A Brahmana is characterized by his knowledge of the Supreme not by the symbols he wears.)

11. This thread is pure in itself and is the end-all (of rites). If a wise one is the wearer of this thread he is said to be the Yagnya and one who knows the Yagnya. 

To sum up: Brahman is considered to be holier than the sacred symbols of Vedic authority like the thread and shika or the tuft among the Brahmins. The treatment highlights the hollow vanity of the symbols.

The subject of the next part is different. So we end this part here.


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