I have to admit, I have been mistaken about the Vijnana Bhairava. I was thinking that it shows the path to go back into the unmanifested. But, translating these “said paths to the unmanifested” which are the traditional translations, I have realized that I have fallen into the same trap “of assumption without questioning”. But, translating it now, I find I like the Vijnana Bhairava has more information than so many upanishads. What is described here is not definitely a condensed version of multiple paths to reach truth at all. It is something really very different.
To understand the verses I am translating below, I think it is a preliminary requirement to understand something very core to our being. Let’s say we looked at this world around us, we need to wonder how is it maintained so “fresh”? What do I mean? Look at anything we create, such as a bridge, a car, an electronic circuit, a machine, a computer anything. Whatever we do, they degrade as time passes. They need continuous maintenance, they need to be cleaned or oiled and so on, to ensure that they work the same way over and over again. Yet they decay and become useless along the way. How then do thoughts remain fresh with ever improving requirement for learning? How can we maintain freshness?
I find there can be only one answer to that question. It is a continuous process of change or replenishment of the underlying “thing” that makes up these thoughts. What do I mean? It looks like we cannot think of this world as something that got formed during some big bang and is decaying out. Or we cannot think of ourselves as something that got created during birth and henceforth from there always decaying!! If this were the case we would not grow old and then max out or the freshness will not have maintained. For us, birth is just the beginning, not the beginning of an end!! It is necessary that the process of creation is a continuous process of “the unmanifested becoming thoughts, the thoughts living out their life, becoming a manifested thought and then from manifest dying out”. This is the process I think that is described in these verses in a step by step manner. These verses come before the verses on Shunya that I had written. I would put down a blog subsequently that will tie all these together. Coming to the translations:
Urdhve praNo hy adho jivo visargatma paroccaret Utpattidvitayasthane bharaNAdbharita sthitiha ||24|| Urdhva = rising + praNo = field hy + adho = is the reason jivo = existence visarga + atma = void + self para + uccharet = remote + ascend Utpatti + dvitaya + sthane = birth + twofold / pair + condition bharaNAd + bharitha = fulfilling + fulfilled sthitiha = situated in
The rising of the prana is the reason for existence where “remote” ascends in the void self giving rise to dual conditions of “happening” coming to be situated in the “happened”.
A few of these words I think I will leave untranslated, since most of the translations make no sense. For eg., prana can be considered to be a field, but I am not sure. Best is to leave it at Prana, especially since it is a noun or description, might as well call it prana instead of anything else.
maruthontarbahirvApi viyadyugmAnivartanAt bhairavyA bhairavasyettham bhairavi vyajyate vapuh marutha + anthar + bahir + vApi = marutha + inside + outside + mix with viyat + yugman + vartanAt = vanishing + junction + setting in motion bhairava + avya = from unmanifested bhairavasya + ettham = towards unmanifest + approached / come near bhairavi = manifest vyaj + yathe = to go through or across + restrained vapuh = to shear / to cut off / scatter
The winds of change inside and outside mixing, dispersing the junction from unmanifested setting in motion the unmanifested to approach and cross over to the manifest scattering the restraints.
Here again, marut is considered to be air in the contemporary translation, I am not sure it is correct. I have translated it as “winds of change” here, but it maybe best left as marut because what is that which connects that unmanifested to the manifest I think is something that is not a contemporary study. Hence no equivalent words maybe present. Any translation will just be a pale imitation of what it was actually meant to be.
I wonder which inside and outside is said here. While the standard interpretation of this verse is the air moving inside and outside the body, I do not believe that is what is being said here. I believe it is the oscillation of that which is trying to manifest, oscillating back and forth across the junction of unmanifestation and manifestation that is talked about here. Also, what is the restraint that is talked about here, I wonder. There is definitely a limitation and not everything turns from unmanifested to manifested.
na vrajenna vishecchatkirmarudrupa vikasite nirvikalpatayA madhye tayA bhairavarUpatA na = not vrajana + na = wandering + not visheSha+shakti+marut+rUpa = distinct + energy + air + form vikasita = cause to expand / expanded nirvikalpa + taya = without imagination + with it madhye = amidst tayA = to go bhairava + rUpatA = unmanifested + the state of being formed
The unmanifested goes into the state of being formed amidst non-imagination, non-wandering and not having any distinct “marut” form that causes it to expand.
In some translations “marut” can be translated to “immortal”. But I prefer to just leave it as “marut”. This I think is a very illuminating verse and I think brings out the fact that without a cause something is being formed. We are looking at an environment of “pure unmanifested” which supposedly has no imagination, yet in the midst of this a the unmanifested start going into a state of being formed!!
kumbhitA rechitA vApi pUritA vA yadA bhaveth tadante shAntanAmAsau shaktya shAntah prakAshate kumbha + iti = suspended breathing + this rechaka = empty / cleared vApi = mix with pUrita = completely vA = also / and yadA = if bhavath = being / present tad + ante = then + end shAnta + nAmA + asau = equilibrium + known + and shaktya = overcomed / succumbed shAntah = equilibrium prakasAshate = manifests / illuminates
This suspended mix and emptying completely if also present then ends the known equilibrium and overcoming equilibrium manifests
Again here what needs to be wondered is what is emptied and cleared and suspended. While in the standard translation it is breath, I wonder if it is true. If we look at the second line it says the a known equilibrium is overcome to establish a second equilibrium in order to manifest. Hence the first line has to be something that allows you to suspend and clear out that which is establishing the equilibrium. I am not sure if breath is what is establishing that!!
AmUlAtkiraNAbhAsAm sUkshmAth sUkshmatarAtmikAm cintayettAm dviSTkAnte shyAmyantIm bhairavodayah AmUla + kiraNA + bhAsAm = first + light / rays + to appear sUkshmAth = subtleness sUkshmatar + atmikAm = more subtle + self consisting of cintayat + tAm = considering / reflecting + till dviSht + ka + ante = averse + till + end shyAm + antim = dark + end bhairava + udaya = unmanifested + arise
The first to appear is subtle and more subtle self consisting of reflection till the aversion ends and darkness ends and the unmanifested arises.
I believe this is where after all the previous steps does a thought even is known, but even here it is very subtle and if when if aversion and darkness is not ended, it can go back onto unmanifested. While the standard translations interpret the “unmanifested arise” as “us being able to sense unmanifested”, I think that in itself is very contradictory. We cannot sense or know unmanifested. If it ever rises it has be in a manifested form. I think this is the first verse that confirms the fact that these verses are talking about the change over of unmanifested to the manifested rather than the manifested understanding the unmanifested. I find subsequent verses confirm it.
ugdacCantIm tadidrUpAm praticakram kramAtkramam UrdhvAm mushTitrayam yAvath tAvadante mahodayam udgacCa + antIm = to go / to come + last / end tadid + rUpAm = eclipse / partial + of the form prati + cakram = every + circle krama + at + kramam = progression + over + progression UrdhvAm = rising or tending upwards mushTi + trayam = folded fist / handful + triple yAvath = like how tAvad + ante = that way + in the end maha + udayam = great + arising
Going at last to a partial form rising like how triple handful (is formed) in that way every circle progressing over and over in the end great arising (happens).
kramadvadashakam samyag dvAdashAkSharbheditam sthUlasUkshmaparasthityA muktvA mukttavAntatah shivah krama + dvadashakam = progress / series + twelve centers samyag = align dvAdasha + akShara + bheditam = twelve + imperishable + distinguish sthUla + sUkshma + para + sthitya = dense + subtle + remote + situated in muktvA = having set freed muktvA + antah = having set free + in the end shivah = potential (???)
Twelve centers of krama (series) align twelve imperishable distinctions dense subtle remote situated having set free in the end is shivah
I have left Shivah as it here. Because again I am thinking this is the primary form of thought. What twelve centers I am not sure, mostly they are the various positions in the brain and the spinal cord. But, if I were to say, I would say that the Shivah is the first recognizable or sensable thought that we can have and the previous verses are talking about the various steps to get to this first version of thought.
To summarize, looks like it is said that:
The prana arises to create duality or happening and non-happening, this oscillates between fading and becoming clear till the restraint that is preventing the formation is scattered. In the midst of non-imagination this restraint is scattered and the unmanifested begins it journey of being formed. Here, the existing equilibrium has to be broken and a second equilibrium with this manifestation needs to be defined. Even then the inertia of the existing equilibrium in the form of aversion has to be ended then the first rays of the thought arises. Once arisen it is partial and is augmented circle on circle like a progression till from that subtle thought it has become dense thought aligning the twelve centers to form imperishable distinctions. Then the first thought occurs and is called Shivah.
The journey of that thought still continues I am sure from here. That for the next blog. But, I hope this sets out the understanding to confirm that the Vijnana Bhirava definitely brings out the journey from the unmanifested to manifestation and back again. It also brings out the fact that it is a continuous process during our life time as opposed to something beyond us.
There is a saying: “yad bhavam tad bhavati – That which is becoming will become”. I used to wonder about this saying. But if what this Vijnana Bhairava says is true, then truly yes, what has started becoming will only rest when it has completely become and then and only then start its journey back into the unmanifested.