Brhadharanyaka Upanishad – Sloka 1.4.8

Background – Sloka 1.4.1 to 1.4.7

Atma existed before any kinds of Purusa. Atma is the ‘manas’ as it ‘sees itself. It was all alone. It is also the ‘aham’ that exists before any expression. Now we use the word ‘aham’ to indicate ourself, as ‘aham’ is the ‘Self’ or ‘Atma’ in us.

That which is the previous of all, in which everything is digested, that is Purusha. It does not have desire to manifest or evolve.

Our manas develops a fear, which arises from being alone. Fear comes when there is more than one. So the manas has nothing to fear if it is all alone. Similarly Atma also does not have any fear in being all alone.

When Atma is alone, there is no enjoyer and enjoyed. The ‘desire’ to enjoy and be enjoyed triggers manifestation from the unmanifest Atma. Thus manifestation happens out of desire and not out of fear.

Atma tore apart separating the male and female due to this desire to be the enjoyer and enjoyed.  Yajnavalkya says Stri was torn apart like a pea torn apart. This means that  Atma  ‘inflated’ Stri. The ‘Svah’ (the heavens) which was just AkAsa (empty space or vacuum) is filled with Stri.

The Purusha remains digested/burnt-out and does not manifest.

The ‘inflated’ Stri fills up the empty space or vacuum.  Stri has oscillations (information) that becomes the blood of all manifestations. Stri oscillates and has energy and information. But that energy is not usable or transferable. Stri was ‘alomaka’ at the start. It was hairless in the sense, oscillations of energy was homogenuous all through the space.

From mouth of the Yoni of Stri, Agni, usable/transferable energy comes out. Agni leads to Soma. (Now Agni develops ‘Hair’ or different regions of space become different with different manifestations). Soma and Agni lead to best of Devas.

All creations are from Stri and through Stri.   On Stri, all manifestation occurs in pairs. From these manifestations, the manuSya take birth.

Thus from just oscillations immortal devas are produced. Hence this super creation is called ‘Brahman’. In modern parlance that evolves higher order beings from lower order beings is called evolution. Brahman is process of evolution, ati-sRsti.

Manifestations of Universe have different forms/shapes/functions (rupA) with identifiable ‘names’ (nAma).

Like a Sword shut in a case, Agni is shut inside the names (nAma) and forms (rupA) that thrive on it. Agni is called Visvambhara, the universal sustainer, as it is the usable/transferable energy that sustains all the manifestations.

What is that uniquely identifiable ‘rupA’ that can have a nAmA..?  Each ‘rupa’ or ‘form/shape’ has some ‘karma’ or ‘function’ associated with it. A ‘rupa’ is one that performs a particular ‘karma’. That ‘rupa’ gets a particular ‘nAmA’.

While a karma performing rupA gets a nAma, that rupA does not have information to function independently, like all our body organs have a function, but cannot work independently

Atma makes all the rupA (forms) with nAma (names) to function together and hence makes them complete.

Small footsteps reach us to our destination. Likewise famed verses one by one reach us to this knowledge.

Sloka 1.4.8.1

tad etat preyaḥ putrāt, preyo vittāt, preyo’ anyasmāt sarvasmāt, antarataraṃ, yad ayam ātmā |

Translation

This which (tad etat) excessively desired than sons (preyah putrat), excessively desired than wealth (preya vittat), excessively desired than others (preya anyasmat), than everything else (sarvasmat), that which is deep inside (antarataram), that here is Atma (yad ayam Atma).

Meaning

That which is excessively desired  than sons, wealth, all others, than everything else, that which is deep inside, that is Atma.

Preya is ‘excessive desire’.

How does rupA get a nAma..? By performing a Karma or a function. How does Atma make the rupA to perform a Karma and thereby gives it a nAma..?

Every rupA excessively desires the Atma than sons, wealth and all others. If that Atma is not there, then that rupA cannot perform the karma. Hence every rupA excessively desires the Atma. This Atma is deep inside (and hence not perceivable).

Sloka 1.4.8.2

sa yah anyam ātmanaḥ priyaṃ bruvāṇaṃ brūyāt, priyaṃ rotsyat īti, īśvaro ha, tatha iva syāt;

Translation

With which/that (sa yah) other (anyam) Atma/any matter or being (Atmanah) desires (priyam) speaking (bruvAnam), should be/having spoken (bruyat), desire (priyam) restrained/arrested/stopped/confined/controlled/banked thus (rodhasyat iti);  isvara (isvara ha) in that way it is (tatha iva syat)

Meaning

That which desire of a being externally speaking, that spoken desire is banked thus, isvara certainly is that.

This desire for Atma, of any being/matter, speaks out externally. It spills out to other Atma. This desire that is spoken out externally is thus banked by the other Atman/beings. That way is Isvara.

How does Izvara rule the entire Universe..?

The desire for Atman that is deep inside in every being is spoken externally, spills out as love of other beings also, and thus this desire/love gets ‘banked’, binding all the matter/beings of the Universe. Thus Izvara manifests.

Izvara is love of Atma that is deep inside every being, spills out/spoken to other beings, binding the beings and thus controlling the nature of the matter/beings in the Universe.

Izvara is love.

Sloka 1.4.8.3

 ātmānam eva priyam upāsīta; sa ya ātmānam eva priyam upāste na hāsya priyam pramāyukam bhavati || 8 ||

Translation

Matter/beings/ with Atma  (atmanam eva) desire/love (priyam) should serve/worship (upasita). with which that with atma (sa ya atmanam) alone (eva) love/desire (priyam) serve/established (upaste) not certainly of that (na ha asya) love/desire (priyam) perishable (pramayukam) becomes (bhavati).

Meaning

All the matter/beings with Atma should serve/worship/remain on that love. That which a being love worships (or remains on love), not of that love becomes perishable.

upAsita is translated as worship or service. Asita means seated, being rested.  upAsita means almost seated or rested. The activity that we perform to seat or rest that Atma in us is worship or service.

A being (atmanam) seats that love. A being worships/serves that love.  That which being serves or seats that love, it becomes imperishable because of that love.

Summary of meaning of Sloka 1.4.8

That which is excessively desired  than sons, wealth, all others, than everything else, that which is deep inside, that is Atma.

Preya is ‘excessive desire’.

How does rupA get a nAma..? By performing a Karma or a function. How does Atma make the rupA to perform a Karma and thereby gives it a nAma..?

Every rupA excessively desires the Atma than sons, wealth and all others. If that Atma is not there, then that rupA cannot perform the karma. Hence every rupA excessively desires the Atma. This Atma is deep inside (and hence not perceivable).

This desire for Atma, of any being/matter, that is deep inside any matter/being, speaks out externally. It spills out.  This is ‘love’.  This desire that is spoken out externally, the love that comes out,  is banked by the other Atman/beings. Thus it becomes the love of other Atma or other beings. Isvara is this love of other beings expressed from deep inside.

How does Izvara rule the entire Universe..?

The desire for Atman that is deep inside in every being is spoken externally, spills out as love of other beings also, and thus this desire/love gets ‘banked’, binding all the matter/beings of the Universe. Thus Izvara manifests.

Izvara is desire of Atma that is deep inside every being, spills out/spoken to other beings as love of other beings, binding the beings and thus controlling the nature of the matter/beings in the Universe. Thus Izvara is love of beings on others.

All the matter/beings with Atma should serve/worship/remain on that love. That which a being love worships (or remains on love), not of that love, it becomes perishable.

upAsita is translated as worship or service. Asita means seated, being rested.  upAsita means almost seated or rested. The activity that we perform to seat or rest that Atma in us is worship or service.

A being (atmanam) seats the love in it. A being worships/serves that love.  That which being serves or seats that love in it, it becomes imperishable because of that love.

In short, the excessive desire of Atma in beings speaks out/expresses as love of other beings. This love ‘banks’ (protects) the beings and is the Isvara. Isvara is the love of the beings on others. All beings remain on that love and worship/serve that love.  Beings that remain on that love never imperish due to that love.

Comparison with Conventional translation

Same translation – Different perspectives

From Br. Up 1.4.1 to 1.4.7 my translation did not vary much than the conventional translation, though it differed extremely on how one ‘interprets’ it.

For eg. Br. Up. talks about Stri filling the Akasha. My translation also says the same thing. I stress on the point that Akasha is empty space or vacuum (which is the dictionary translation also) and I stress on Stri filling the vacuum.

Br. Up. talks about manifestation from Stri in pairs from minutest to large beings. I also talk about the same thing except that I draw a parrallel to pair production in vacuum. Br. Up says from these came the manuSya. I also say the same thing.

Br. Up. talks of brahman as doing ‘ati sRsti’, extreme creation, in which immortal beings get produced from mortal matter. Conventional interpretation of it is difficult. But I say this is nothing but evolution, in which lower order forms of matter and beings evolve to higher order forms and beings.

But here in 1.4.8 there is a difference in the way I translate the sloka itself, albeit slightly.

The difference in Sloka 1.4.8

The conventional translation is “This Self is dearer than a son, wealth, everything else, and is innermost. Should a person (holding the Self as dear) say to one calling anything else dearer than the Self, ‘(What you hold) dear will die’—he is certainly competent (to say so)—it will indeed come true. One should meditate upon the Self alone as dear. Of him who meditates upon the Self alone as dear, the dear ones are not mortal.

My translation is “Atma is that which is excessively desired than sons, wealth, everything else and is innermost. The excessive desire of Atma in beings speaks out/expresses as love of other beings. This love ‘banks’ (protects) the beings and is the Isvara. Isvara is the love of the beings on others. All beings remain on that love and worship/serve that love. Beings that remain on that love never imperish due to that love.

The conventional translation says ‘preyas’ as ‘dear’. I translate it as ‘excessive desire’. The conventional translation talks of someone holding self as dear saying something, it becomes so. It ignores the words ‘Isvara’ and ‘rotsyAt’ in the sloka. I assume because it is simply difficult to account for these words in the conventional translation.

But I account for these words also. I translate it as ‘The Atma expresses its excessive desire and that expression (bruyAt) gets restrained/banked (rotsyAt) in other beings (anyam) and that is love (priyam) and Isvara manifests in that way. Now this translation has to withstand the scrutiny of the sanskrit scholars. It is still not done.

-TBT

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