Aitreya Upanishad – Part 2
In Aitreya Upanishad – Part 1, I had put down my translation of the Upanishad that talks about steps in creation (maybe it should be called evolution, but even that has a time element to it). This translation is the part of the same Upanishad that talks about approaching this truth. It is true, that, to start to grasp the fact that there is a truth apart from this reality around us is very difficult, especially given that we exist in this reality around us. When the reality around us is “so complete”, that all that we can form are thoughts and these also exist just in the reality around us, what or how can we even start to approach to know this truth? Even if we did realize there is a truth, how do know it? Using the mind? Can these senses that act in this world around us grasp the truth at all? Definitely, with the mind only an obscure thought of that truth can be formed, nothing more. Exactly what the Kena Upanishad says. Hence this part of the upanishad is very intriguing. Continuing to translate the khanda-3 of this upanishad.
tadenatsṛṣṭaṃ parāṅtyajighāṃsattadvācājidhṛkṣat tannāśaknodvācā grahītum sa yadhainadvācāgrahaiṣyadabhivyāhṛtya haivānnamatrapsyat tat + enat + srstam = that + which + is created paraNg + tya + jighamsat = outwards / remote + to move + intending to learn tat + vaca + jighRShat + tat + na + ashkya + na + tvaca = that + speech + wishing to learn + that + not + possible + not + speech grahi + tum = that which holds or seizes + in this manner sa = he ya + davina + vaca + agraha + isha + yada + abhivyahrt + ya = that + dual + speech + giving up + seeking + pronounced (spoken, addressed) or what has been said ha + iva + annam + tapsa + yat = give way to + in the same manner as + matter + diluted + that
Here, the upanishad starts to talks about that which is created. “ParaNg” can be translated as outwards or remote also and the inherent meaning remains the same. In fact, if looked at from the perspective of the “truth”, the body, mind and everything that forms this reality around us, has to be remote to that truth?
“tatnashak”, can be translated as “destroying that” or what I have done here as “tat + na + askhaya” which becomes “that not possible”. If it is “destroying”, then what is getting destroyed is not present, hence I have taken the alternate translation.
So, this verse seems to be saying “If that which is created moves outward, intending to learn with speech, wishing to learn by speaking, it is not possible to be learnt. He will only learn that external spoken diluted by matter.”
The question that arises here is “Intending to learn what” and it definitely looks like “intending to learn about that which has formed all this”? What does the “external spoken” means also is pretty evident. All that will be learnt is that “spoken words about the truth” not the truth itself! So, if we look at this from the perspective of a computer program. We have spyware and debuggers that can examine the heap, stack, memory, CPU introduce new instructions into the program running etc. Yet, they all can only see objects within the program, can use the logic in the program to know about the details of threads running the program, can examine the other objects in the program and so on. They still cannot understand the working of the underlying processor, cannot envision the existence of IC chips, busses, resistors and so on that form the motherboard or the keyboard or the mouse! In the same manner, using the various characteristics within this program of life, I can only guess an image of the truth, but not know the truth.
This theme is repeated for more characteristics of this outward form that is created.
tatprāṇenājighṛkṣat tannāśaknotprāṇena grahītuṃ sa yaddhainatprāṇenāgrahaiṣyadabhiprāṇya haivānnamatrapsyat taccakṣuṣājighṛkṣat tannāśaknoccakṣuṣā grahītum sa yaddhainaccakṣuṣāgrahaiṣyaddṛṣṭvā haivānnamatrapsyat tacchrotreṇājighṛkṣat tannāśaknocchrotreṇa grahītuṃ sa yaddhainacchrotreṇāgrahaiṣyacchrutvā haivānnamatrapsyat tanmanasājighṛkṣat tannāśaknonmanasā grahītuṃ sa yaddhainanmanasāgrahaiṣyaddhyātvā haivānnamatrapsyat tacchiśnenājighṛkṣat tannāśaknocchiśnena grahītuṃ sa yaddhainacchiśnenāgrahaiṣyadvisṛjya haivānnamatrapsyat
Tries to learn it using breath, will not be able to learn it by breathing, but will only learn that external breath which is diluted by this matter
This is repeated for eyes, hearing, manas and so on.
tadapānenājighṛkṣat tadāvayat saiṣo’nnasya graho yadvāyurannāyurvā eṣa yadvāyuḥ tat + apAna + ajighRKSu + tat + avaya = that + downward breath + intending to seize + that + yielding sa + isha + anasya = he + seeking + life graho = to seize or seizes yat + ayur + na-ayur + va = that + movable + not-movable + what esha = this yadva + ayuh = perception + life
Here, “Apana” is a another intriguing term. When we look at “prana” as breath, “apana” becomes downward breath. But If we looked at “prana” as “force in a certain direction”, “apana” becomes “force in the opposite direction”. So, this seems to say,
If, wishing to learn, we yield to the opposite force, he, when seeking life, seizes that movable/un-movable and which this perception of life is?
If I understand this correctly, it is saying that if we stay in this life and using the various available senses to me, I try to understand about the truth, all I will understand is a obscure version of the truth as interpreted by the senses that has been used to understand it. But, the same, if I yield to the “opposite force of life” and when I am in the state of grasping life, if I am able to seek the truth, I should start getting a perception of what this life is about!!! True isn’t it, then in such a state when I am finding the way to come back into life, I am not using my senses but that which forms life itself!! But, I wonder what is that “opposite force”? “Prana” and “Apana” are two words used pretty commonly, and again I wonder, do we know what these are? Here, I have translated “Prana” as breath, yet in a number of places, it seems like this translates to the “electric pulses” in our nervous system, yet in other places, that also sometimes does not make sense. As, I have said previously, the Aitreya Upanishad, is one that brings out our ignorance to the fore!!!
sa īkṣata kathaṃ nvidaṃ madṛte syāditi sa īkṣata katareṇa prapadyā iti sa īkṣata yadi vācābhivyāhṛtaṃ yadi prāṇenābhiprāṇitaṃ yadi cakṣuṣā dṛṣṭaṃ yadi śrotreṇa śrutaṃ yadi tvacā spṛṣṭaṃ yadi manasā dhyātaṃ yadyapānenābhyapānitaṃ yadi śikśnena visṛṣṭamatha ko’hamiti sa = he ikSata = who perceives katham = how ni + vidam = within + knowledge madruta = being in me syad + iti = perhaps + this sa = he iksata = perceives katar + ena = whether + this prapad + ya = appear / assume + this sa = he iksata = perceives yadi = if vaca + abhi + vyahrtam = pronounced, spoken, addressed + going towards + words yadi = if prana + ena + abhipranitam = breath + who + going towards breathing yadi = if chksusha = eye drstam = see yadi = if srotena = by ear srutam = hear yadi = if manasa = mind dhyatam = concentrate yadi + apanena + abhipananidam = if + exhale + breath towards + it yadi = if sikSnena = to learn visrShTa + matha = produced / created + churn / agitate ko + aham + iti = what + this I + is
This translates to:
He who perceives how this knowledge is within me, perhaps he also perceives whether this this appears so. He perceives if speaking, going towards the spoken, if breathing, who going towards the breath, if eye, going towards seeing, if ear, going towards hearing, if manas, going towards concentration, if opposite force, going towards it, if learning, what agitation created this I.
It is important to note here, that “knowledge is perceived”, not known! So, if we correctly interpret this verse, knowledge is also a “perceivable” parameter just like seeing, hearing and so on and knowing is not in the realm of truth! While intelligence clearly comes out as a perceivable parameter, even knowing is just one such parameter got due to perception, really shakes the foundation of existence, doesn’t it?
So, according to this verse, it seems to tell me, if I am able to perceive how this knowledge came within in, I should also be able to perceive how I see, breath, hear etc. Which then seems pretty straight-forward. If we really look at it, we do know how we see or hear or breath. The eyes send signals to the brain and the brain interprets it. Yet, we do not know how that signal gets interpreted? What are the parameters based on which and how this receiving signal is converted to a reaction?
sa etameva sīmānaṃ vidāryaitayā dvārā prāpadyata saiṣā vidṛtirnāma dvāstadetannāndanam tasya traya āvasathāstrayaḥ svapnāḥ ayamāvasatho’yamāvasatho’yamāvasatha iti sa = he etam + iva = approaches + this simanam = boundary vidarya + taya = having torn + who protects dvara = by means of prApa + yata = obtaining / reaching + detachment / neutrality sa + ISha = he + to go / to move vidhRti + nama = division / separation / partition + name dva + Asta + etana + anda + Anam = two / both + thrown / cast off + thus + to bind + bring near tasya = he traya = threefold, triple Avasthaka + sa + trayah = suitable + he + threefold svapna = dream ayam + avasatha + ayam + avasatha + ayam + avasatha = extended + state (three times?) iti = in this manner
This translates to:
He who approaches this boundary, by means of having torn asunder that which protects it, he reaches neutrality. He moves towards casting off both the separation and name thus bringing together the three dream, one state, extended state and extended state in this manner.
Really, I might have mistranslated this verse and this is the core verse! It is definitely saying that we need to approach this boundary by tearing asunder the protections (and from the previous verses, the protections are the various energy forms), which definitely means that we have the ability to control the energy we use! The verse also definitely seems to say, that detachment or neutrality is where we have stopped using those energies. Now, this thing of, when we have stopped using the energy, the various states has to come together as one is a little intriguing. It almost seems like the corollary of this is that the various states of energy is the reason for the different states?
sa jāto bhūtānyabhivyaikhyatkimihānyaṃ vāvadiṣaditi sa etameva puruṣaṃ brahma tatamamapaśyat idamadarśamiti sa = he jato = born bhut + anya + abhivyakat + kim + iha + nya = become + another + manifest + what else other vava + diShta + iti = just + direction + this sa = he etam + eva = approaches this purusam = sentience brahma = creator tata + mama + pashyat + idam + darshan + iti = spreading + my + visible + this + showing / experiencing + this
This translates to:
He is born as another manifest, what else other, but this is just direction. He approaches this sentience creation by spreading the visibility of experiencing this “I”.
This definitely has to be a continuation of the previous verse. So, is he saying even by approaching this boundary by casting off all the energies and attaining neutrality, all that is happening is an alternate manifestation, but the experiencing of the “I” stays? WOW! So much for renunciation!!! This reminds me of the Japji Sahib verses:
suni-ai siDh peer sur naath. suni-ai Dharat Dhaval aakaas. suni-ai deep lo-a paataal. suni-ai pohi na sakai kaal. naanak bhagtaa sadaa vigaas. Listen O Siddhas, spiritual teachers, yogic masters Listen O earth, its support and the space Listen O oceans, the lands of the world and the nether regions Listen O even time cannot touch The "I" for ever vibrant even in you!!!
The normal translations, translate this as saying that the followers of Nanak are for ever in bliss, but I think, Nanak is used to represent the “world of I”. Then these set of verses is taken to the next level. Moreover, if we start co-relating, this is exactly what this above Aitreya Upanishad verse also seems to say. You can try to reduce the energy that you consume, detach yourself and do everything, yet, you will just manifest as something else and that is it!!