Brhadaranyaka Upanishad – Sloka 1.4.1

Background

This is my translation and understanding of Sloka 1.4.1 to 1.4.17 of Brhad Aranyaka Upanishad. The sloka 1.4.10 of this Upanishad has the mahAvAkya ‘Aham brahma asmi’. A reading of it would help us understand the significance of the mahAvAkya. Let me start with Sloka 1.4.1

Sloka 1.4.1

ātma iva idam agra āsīt puruṣavidhaḥ

sa anuvīkṣya na anyadāt mano apaśyat

sa aham asmī iti agre vyāharat,

tata ahaṃ nāma ābhavat

tasmād apyetarhyāmantrita aham ayam iti eva āgra

uktvā atha anyannāma prabrūte yadasya bhavati;

sa yatpūrvo’asmaat sarva asmāt sarvānpāpmana auṣat tasmāt puruṣah;

oṣati ha vai sa tam ya asmāt pūrvo bubhūṣati

ya evaṃ veda

Translation

Atma alone (iva) manifested (Asit) here (idam) before/first (agra) types/kinds of puruSa (purusa-vidhah)

That (Sa) on examination (anuviksya) not otherwise (na anyadat) saw manas(mana-apasyat)

That (sa) ‘I (aham)’ exists (asmi) thus (iti) before (agre) any expressions (vyAharat)

Therefore (tata) named ‘aham’ (aham nama) the existence/manifestation (abhavat)

From that (tasmAt) aham, apye now-a-days (etarhi) this (ayam) aham (aham) is spoken to/prayed to /addressed to (Amantrita) thus (iti) certainly (eva) before (agra) saying (uktvA) then (atha) other names (anya nAma) announced/declared (prabrute) which (yad) becomes (bhavati) of his/of self (asya)

That (sa) which (yad) from (asmat) the previous/opposite (pUrva) of all (sarva), from (asmat) all the (sarvAn) pApmAna dawns/burns/digests (auSat), from that (tasmAt) is the Purusha (purusah)

Burns/Digests (Osati) either (va) that (sa) those (tam) or (ya) from the (asmat) earlier/opposite (purva) of desiring/wishing to live/manifest (bubhusati)

which (ya) alone (evam) is knowledge/wisdom/realization (veda)

Atma existed before any kinds of Purusa. That (Atma) on examination saw nothing else than the ‘manas’. (it sees itself and hence it is the ‘manas’). Atma is the ‘manas’ as it ‘sees itself’. That ‘aham’ (the manas) exists thus before any expressions. Therefore that existence/manifestation(of Atma) is named ‘aham’.

From this only, now-a-days ‘aham’ is addressed before other names are declared which becomes of the self. Thus ‘aham’ comes to indicate the ‘self’ or ‘ourself’.

That which is the previous of all, in which everything is digested/burnt, that is Purusha.  It is before the desire the manifest. This is (certainly) known.

Meaning of sloka 1.4.1

Atma- Manas- Aham

Atma existed before any kinds of Purusa. That (Atma) on examination saw nothing else than the ‘manas’. (it sees itself and hence it is the ‘manas’). Atma is the ‘manas’ as it ‘sees itself’. That ‘aham’ (the manas) exists thus before any expressions. Therefore that existence/manifestation(of Atma) is named ‘aham’.

From this only, now-a-days ‘aham’ is addressed before other names are declared which becomes of the self. Thus ‘aham’ comes to indicate the ‘self’ or ‘ourself’.

Aham means inside, inside is manas, manas is the one that exists before any expressions manifest and is same as ‘Atma’ in us. Since ‘aham’ indicates the ‘Atma’ in us, we use the word ‘aham’ as a name for ourselves before others are addressed.

PuruSa

That which is from the opposite of everything, from the digestion of everything ‘pApmAna’, that is Purusha. Purusha is the ‘burnt’/’digested’ before the ‘wish/desire to live’ existed. Purusha does not ‘evolve’ (it does not ‘live’)

puNya and pApa

‘puN’ means accumulating. puNya is that accumulating property. Hence ‘puNya’ is used to denote pious activities. puNya karma are the ‘karma’ that ‘add’ to us.

“pa-apa” means driving away or reducing. pApa is the reducing property. Hence pApa is used to denote sinful activities. pApa karma are the ‘karma’ that reduce from us.

The entire Universal evolution can be seen as ‘pApmAna’ or ‘sin’. How..?

pApmAna – Evolution as ‘reduction’ (pApa)

From the ‘complete’ (pUrNam), the Universe evolution is continuous reduction one after another.

The primitive fundamental particles that arise first are closer to that ‘Complete’ than composite particles. The Composite particles are closer to that ‘Complete’ than elements and compounds. The elements and compounds are close to the ‘Complete’ than primitive living beings. The primitive living beings closer to that ‘Complete’ than highly intelligent beings.

Hence the evolution itself is ‘pApmAna’ or sinned, as it is continuous reduction process from the ‘complete’. Hence ‘pApmAna’ are those reducing actions.

PuruSa – ‘sarvAN pApmAna auSat’

The puruSa is purva (earlier or opposite) of everything. It is in which everything remains ‘digested’ (or burnt up). All the reducing actions (sins) (pApmAna) are ‘burnt’ up /digested (auSat) in that ‘earlier of everything’. puruSa is earlier (or opposite) to the ‘desire to live’ (bubhusat). In other words, purUsa does not evolve, as it does not ‘live’. It’s been there as it is from before the dawn (uSa).

That’s why puruSa is translated sometimes as ‘pur uSa’, the previous to dawn of the Universe. It’s because the ‘desire to manifest’ starts the reduction process of evolution or the ‘dawn’ (uSa) of evolution. purUsa does not live/evolve. It’s been existing from befoe the dawn as it is, without evolving.

The sloka 1.4.1 talks about ‘Atma’, ‘manas’ ‘aham’ and purUsa. Atma is the manas, is the aham. purUsa is that which is previous/opposite to everything (we observe) (probably all the matter), does not evolve as it is without desire to ‘live’.

More to come..

-TBT

Disclaimer:
The translation here though sounds similar to other translations, is not same as traditional translations.

More posts by this author:

Please follow and like us:

Co Authors :

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.