Invocation

Om. May no harm be done here, may the vessels of the great Seers continue in salvation, may these movements be in accord with Divine Will, may this desire be motivated by Love, may what is not beneficent wither to obscurity.
I prostrate.

 

Download EBook copy of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Commentary here.

Revised 26th April 2014

 

Chapter Five

Infinity,   such as it may be,   exists within the Absolute.

Section 1.

5.1.1   Om. That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. The infinite proceeds from the infinite. (Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), it remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone. Om is the ether-Brahman, the eternal ether. 'The ether containing air' says the son of Kauravyayani. It is the Veda, (so) the Brahmanas (knowers of Brahman) know; (for) through it one knows what is to be known.

“That (Brahman) is infinite”

When describing   "(Brahman)"   as   "infinite"   the reference is not to physical size or distance.   The meaning is that the Absolute   (Self,   God, or Brahman)   is literally Existence itself.   This means that the Absolute is all that exists,   therefore the Absolute is without beginning or end,   without start or finish.   Therefore the Absolute is infinite.

"this (universe) is infinite"

This universe is a projection in Consciousness of the Absolute Knowledge which is the infinite Brahman.   The Absolute is the knowledge of Existence Absolute.
Therefore,   "this universe",   being the projection of Absolute Knowledge is itself infinite.

"The infinite proceeds from the infinite"

The said infinite universe proceeds or is a projection of the infinite Knowledge of The Absolute   ("Brahman or Self" )

"taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe) "

If or when this projection of the Universe which is of the infinite knowledge of the Absolute Brahman is subsumed or wound up or negated   ("taking the infinitude")   then that infinite immutable Absolute Brahman will remain unchanged.

"it remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone"

The Absolute Brahman Alone Exists.   When this projection of Universal knowledge comes to rest the Absolute remains unchanged.   The Absolute Brahman is unborn,   immutable and eternally existing.

"Om is the ether-Brahman, the eternal ether"

The Absolute Brahman is without beginning.   This Creation in the beginning was the word Om.   Aoum symbolises the sound (word) of this Creation as it proceeded   (was projected)   from the unmanifest ether that is the Knowledge that is the Absolute Brahman.

"The ether containing air"

This manifest Creation is the material   (gross)   Creation   (containing air)   of the subtle knowledge that is the Absolute.

"It is the Veda,... (for) through it one knows what is to be known"

This material Creation consists of the knowledge   (Veda)   that is the Absolute.   What is to be known is the way back to unity with that Absolute,   the knowledge to uncover that way also came with Creation.

Om is the sound of the knowledge of the Absolute projecting the universe into the manifest ether (air) and bringing all the components of creation into being.
Om is the sound of the knowledge of this creation unfolding.

 

Concerning this next section.
After Hiranyagarbha,   who symbolises the manifestation of material desire   (vital force)   to create the forms of that original desire,   the form of Prajapati,   the first born   (Viraj),   the body of that original desire,   was made manifest.
Through the term Prajapati,   this first born,   Viraj,   is known through his role as the desiring father   (of the desire for sons).
The sons of the world,   the further forms of creation,   are said to conform to three groups or classes of conscious awareness.
These groups are designated gods,   men and Azuras.
The following verses speak of these sons entering the world through Prajapati,   their Father.

Section 2.

5.2.1   Three classes of Prajapati's sons lived a life of continence with their father, Prajapati (Viraj) the gods, men and Asuras. The gods, on the completion of their term, said, 'Please instruct us.' He told them the syllable 'Da' (and asked), 'Have you understood?' (They) said, 'We have. You tell us: Control yourselves.' (He) said, 'Yes, you have understood.'

There were three groups of individuals   ("gods, men, azuras") living without desire   ("continence")   with their father.   At the end of their term it came time for them to leave.
The father and sons and all of creation emanated from the   "cloud" or ether that is the unmanifest knowledge of the Absolute.
The father,   Prajapati,   was born into the Universe with Creation.   Prajapati as a first born of vital force will further enable all mankind,   represented by gods,   men and azuras.

So the first sons   asked the father for some special wisdom they might need   (for living in the world).
The father confided in them the syllable   'Da'
Have you understood?   He asked.
Yes,   the gods   replied,   you meant control yourself.
Yes the father said,   you have understood.

 

5.2.2   Then the men said to him, 'Please instruct us'. He told them the same syllable 'Da' (and asked), 'Have you understood?' (They) said, 'We have. You tell us: Give.' (He) said, 'Yes, you have understood.'

Later the second   (group of)   men asked for some special advice to help them   (for living in the world).   and they were told the same syllable, 'Da'.
Have you understood?   the father asked.
Yes,   the men replied you said to give.
Yes the father said,   you have understood.

 

5.2.3   Then the Asuras said to him, 'Please instruct us.' He told them the same syllable 'Da' (and asked), 'Have you understood?' (They) said, 'We have. You tell us: Have compassion.' (He) said, 'Yes, you have understood.' That very thing is repeated by the heavenly voice, the cloud, as 'Da,' 'Da,' 'Da' 'Control yourselves,' 'Give,' and 'Have compassion.' Therefore one should learn these three self control, charity and compassion.

Finally the third (group of) azuras asked the father if he had some advice for them that he feels they might need   (for living in the world).   they were told the same syllable 'Da'
Have you understood?   the father asked.
Yes, the azuras replied you said to have compassion.
Yes the father said,   you have understood.

These three wise practices are meant for all mankind as represented by the three groups.
Basically they mean if you have superior means,   (gods)   then you need to control that power.
If you have material wealth,   (men through working for desire)   then you should give,   share that wealth.
If you are an Azura,  said to be evil through caring only for their own being,   then they should show compassion for others.
But,   in fact,   the father gave no specific advice.   The father repeated the same abstruse syllable to all beings.   What was received by each individual was the wisdom of their   "self",   through access to the Absolute Self.   Each person asked for something because each person intuitively knew in their heart of the need for guidance.
Not immediately understanding 'Da' each looked within for the interpretation of this answer to their question.   In the course of this inner enquiry their own wise   "self"   gave to each of them the answer to their own personal questions.   We all have access to this divine knowledge and reason through this   "self"   through our subtle intellect,   whether we behave as gods,   men   or Asuras.

"That very thing is repeated by the heavenly voice, the cloud"

This   "cloud"   symbolises or describes the Knowledge of the Absolute Self which in truth,   as stated above we all have access to as our same   "self".

This section can be understood as an example of the man being unable to discern higher truth from any transient form of creation   (such as Prajapati,   Viraj or vital force).   But all people can still access this higher Truth that is the Absolute,   through their intuitive   "self"   which in reality is the Absolute Self.

 

Section 3.

The following sections will describe the error of forgetting that Absolute Self and assuming a vital force,   Hiranyagarbha   (a projection of material desire),   and so forth to be their divine "self".
It will be seen from the described results of assuming a vital force that those results only ever amount to material gain.   Material gain,   vital force,   leads to further ignorance or forgetting of the Absolute and eventual rebirth.

5.3.1   This is Prajapati, this heart (intellect). It is Brahman, it is everything. 'Hrdaya' (heart) has three syllables. 'Hr' is one syllable. To him who knows as above, his own people and others bring (presents). 'Da' is another syllable. To him who knows as above, his own people and others give (their powers). 'Ya' is another syllable. He who knows as above goes to heaven.

"This is Prajapati this heart (intellect)".

"Prajapati"   is the first born (Viraj),   born as a result of that original desire for mind and body   "intellect".   In this verse   "intellect"   specifically means as guided by Manas which is assumed by the ignorant to be the divine and is therefore allowed to mislead the subtle intellect of Buddhi   (mind and heart).   Being mislead by manas causes a vital force which means this is the   "self"   of the ignorant.   Those suffering from this ignorance through forgetting assume this vital force to be the will of the divine for them to gain or create more material wealth and flourish in "their" life.

"It is Brahman, it is everything".

This is the conditioned Brahman or vital force or   "self"   of the ignorant.
This Prajapati or first born Brahman is everything,   all things within material creation in fact,   because Viraj in the role of Prajapati,   the father,   produces further material creation through sons and continuing desire.
But,   Prajapati or Viraj or vital force is not the Absolute Brahman or Self which transcends this whole Universe of things.

"Hrdaya   (heart)   has three syllables".

The extent to which this   (deluded)   "self"   is known is being symbolised by three syllables.

"Hr"   is one   "Da"   is another syllable   "Ya"   is another syllable".

"He who knows as above"   :-
("He who knows"   means he who meditates as such).
He who knows   "Hr"   people bring him presents.
He who knows   " Da"   people give him their powers.
He who knows   " Ya "   he gains heaven.
This understanding assumes meditation on such,   (meditation gains that object of meditation).   But this meditation is still of the realm of material creation,   that is,   he seeks rewards such as presents,   power,   and even heaven,   which still means a world or   "state"   of Consciousness,   as it were,   within creation.  
Full realisation of the Absolute Self alone leads to liberation and unity with the Absolute Self.

 

Section 4.

5.4.1   That (intellect-Brahman) was but this Satya (gross and subtle) alone. He who knows this great, adorable, first born (being) as the Satya Brahman, conquers these worlds, and his (enemy) is thus conquered and becomes nonexistent he who knows this great, adorable, first born (being) thus, as the Satya Brahman, for Satya is indeed Brahman.

"That (intellect-Brahman) was but this Satya (gross and subtle) alone".

The   "intellect Brahman"   is the first born Brahman that was born as the result of his desire for "mind".
Being a "Satya" Brahman and the first 'born' he is a conditioned material Brahman.   Not The Absolute Brahman or Absolute Self which transcends all attributes.
The intention here is to restate that this   "self"   (intellect-Brahman)   described here is the self of those ignorant of the Absolute.
this   "self" of the first born,   "Satya   (gross and subtle)   alone",   is the material body of a vital force that arose due to the desire for mind and body of that first born.

"(He who knows)   this great, adorable"

This term is central to the ignorance of this man.   It describes the man as meditating   ("He who knows")   on a vital force in their material form as Divine   ("great, adorable").
This is due to the forgetting of the Non-Dual Absolute Self.

"He who knows this... first born (being) as the Satya Brahman"

This   "first born (being)"   means he that brought the Knowledge that was the Absolute Alone into manifest Creation through his desire.   As such he   (the first born)   is but the gross form of the subtle knowledge   (Truth,   Satya)   of the Absolute.
"He who knows"   refers to he,   (the one who is born),   who sees his   "self"   as a divine force supporting his life within creation,   ("Satya gross and subtle")   and meditates with this understanding.

"conquers these worlds, and his (enemy) is thus conquered"

He who meditates with the understanding of his divine vital force gains   ("conquers")   a material world.
The ignorance of this man leads to the seeing of duality which means he sees need   ("enemy")   for his "share" of the worlds.   In truth the seeing of duality is false therefore the seeing of being in need as fear or enemy is false.

"and becomes nonexistent"

What is imagined to exist by the delusional depends entirely on their delusions.   He who is satisfied by thinking that he   "conquers these worlds"   (achieves all desires)   also sees his enemy   (need,   desire)   "become non-existent".

"for Satya is indeed Brahman".

This first born form of Brahman does consist of gross and subtle,   therefore he is   "Satya".
The Absolute Brahman transcends all descriptions such as gross and subtle.
The ignorant,   satisfied through material wealth seek no higher reality than this material and a divinity.

Or,   it is true that mans only real enemies arise from duality such as desire and attachment.
An awareness of unity through the Divine,   albeit the delusion of a divine vital force,   can lead to the heavenly state of freedom from desire.
But,   nevertheless true freedom and emancipation can only come through Self Realisation which transcends a vital force.   ref :-
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.8.10   "he, O Gargi, who departs from this world after knowing this immutable   (Absolute Brahman)   is a knower of Brahman.

 

Section 5.

5.5.1   This (universe) was but water (liquid oblations connected with sacrifices) in the beginning. That water produced Satya. Satya is Brahman. Brahman (produced) Prajapati, and Prajapati the gods. Those gods meditate upon Satya. This (name) 'Satya' consists of three syllables: 'Sa' is one syllable, 'IT' is another syllable, and 'Ya' is the third syllable. The first and last syllables are truth. In the middle is untruth. This untruth is enclosed on either side by truth. (Hence) there is a preponderance of truth. One who knows as above is never hurt by untruth.

"This (universe) was but water (liquid oblations connected with sacrifices) in the beginning"

The horse sacrifice ritual has been a theme throughout this Upanishad symbolising the cause for this universe due to it's resulting from desire.
Again,   with reference to the horse sacrifice named in this Upanishad,   that was performed by the man desiring rebirth,   the   "water"   "liquid oblations connected with sacrifices"   meant the Soma Juice that symbolically contained the seed of the desired outcome of the sacrifice ritual.
In this verse the   "water (liquid oblations)"   symbolise the unmanifest ether of Absolute Knowledge.   Here this unmanifest knowledge is projecting   (manifesting)   the Universe,     "This (universe) was but water".

"That water produced Satya"

This   "Satya"   is a material manifestation of Absolute knowledge.   Therefore here   "Satya"   is projected or manifest mortal truth   (creation)   and the Absolute Brahman is the immortal Truth of that truth.

"Satya is Brahman. Brahman (produced) Prajapati, and Prajapati the gods".

This   "Brahman"   is "he"   that first desired a worldly mind.   "He" was the first   (material, conditioned)   Brahman born within the Universe of his desire.
All that is further created   ("Prajapati (the father) and the gods")   is only a false superimposed further creation from the continuing desire of this first born Brahman to flourish.   ref. :-
"these are all his projection, for he is all the gods".   Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.6

"Those gods meditate upon Satya".

Those flourishing within creation   ("those gods")   who desire to continue to flourish within creation believing this material universe to be their reality,   meditate on this creation of the worldly Brahman.   They have forgotten the Truth of The Absolute Non-Dual Brahman.

"Satya consists of three syllables: 'Sa' 'IT' and 'Ya'"

To elucidate the above meaning,   that this universe is merely a transient mortal   (therefore untrue or unreal)   projection of immortal Absolute Truth,   it's description,   "Satya",   is being divided to show that it contains both Absolute Truth and only relative truth (untruth).

"The first and last syllables are truth.   In the middle is untruth "

The first syllable represents the Absolute at rest as pure Knowledge   (Truth).
Then,   once again the last syllable represents the Absolute returning to rest after the winding up of the projected universe as once more Absolute Truth,   Consciousness,   and Bliss,   at rest.

"This untruth is enclosed on either side by truth"

This projected Universe along with Prajapati or Viraj who disturbed,   through his desire for the world,   the rest and bliss of the Absolute Truth is ultimately transient and untrue and is therefore only an interlude   "enclosed on either side"   within the Eternal Truth of the Absolute   "untruth...enclosed on either side by truth".

"there is a preponderance of truth. One who knows as above is never hurt by untruth".

The meaning is that the Realised one who sees the eternal truth of the Absolute transcends the untruth of creation and therefore transcends its evil   "hurt".
That is,   Truth is the natural eternal state   "preponderance of truth"   so Truth will always prevail,   or Absolute Truth Alone is Eternal.

 

5.5.2   That which is Satya is that sun the being who is in that orb and the being who is in the right eye. These two rest on each other. The former rests on the latter through the rays, and the latter rests on the former through the function of the eyes. When a man is about to leave the body, he sees the solar orb as clear. The rays no more come to him.

"That which is Satya is that sun the being who is in that orb and the being who is in the right eye. These two rest on each other".

As described above,   Satya is the manifestation of the universe,   the material sun with its man made deity and all the material of creation.
The subtle is the eternal knowledge that supports the transient projection of this material.
The subtle is also the seeing principle   (Absolute Knowledge)   that witnesses the event of sunlight meeting the organ of the eye.

"The former rests on the latter through the rays, and the latter rests on the former through the function of the eyes".

The rays or light of the sun rest on the eye. The eye meets (rests on) the light of the sun and the Absolute Self experiences the seeing principle   "the function"   through that meeting,   as it were.

"When a man is about to leave the body, he sees the solar orb as clear. The rays no more come to him."

When a man,   (here the   "self")   is about to leave the   (dying)   body,   the subtle organs of sense,   (the principle of seeing and so forth)   leave the material form of the body,   as it were,   and remain as Knowledge which is now the unmanifest Self   ("self" ).
Therefore,   the orb is now known   ("sees" )   only through the light of that Knowledge which does not use the light   ("rays" )   of the sun,   "The rays no more come to him",   but the orb of the sun remains known through Absolute Knowledge,   as does each ray of the sun of course.

 

5.5.3   Of this being who is in the solar orb, the syllable 'Bhur' is the head, for there is one head, and there is this one syllable; the word 'Bhuvar' , is the arms, for there are two arms, and there are these two syllables; the word 'Svar' is the feet, for there are two feet, and there are these two syllables. His secret name is 'Ahar.' He who knows as above destroys and shuns evil.

The words Bhur,   Bhuvar,   and Svar represent three subtle planes of existence equating with earth,   sky   and space.   They begin the   Gayatri Mantra.   (Wikipedia link)   which speaks of the light of the sun as symbolising the light of god.   The light of the sun shines on these worlds so through meditation it is said that one may attain these worlds.

"Of this being who is in the solar orb, the syllable 'Bhur' is the head"

For the sake of meditation the deity of the sun is being   "constructed"   from the syllables of these words,   so the first syllable is the head.

"the word 'Bhuvar' , is the arms"

Likewise the next two represent the arms.

"the word 'Svar' is the feet"

The last two represent the feet of the deity.

"His secret name is 'Ahar'".

Ahar,   as said represents the divine.

"He who knows as above destroys and shuns evil"

He who knows the subtle   (secret)   reference here is to the Non-Dual Absolute Self that transcends this material creation with its evils of duality will also   "shun evil",   is the meaning here.
But it should also be understood that meditation on a deity may gain worldly material results symbolised by that deity,   but only meditation on the truth of the Non-Dual Absolute will gain emancipation from material creation.
Compare 2.1.2   That being who is in the sun, I meditate upon as Brahman

 

5.5.4   Of this being who is in the right eye, the syllable 'Bhur' is the head, for there is one head, and there is this one syllable; the word 'Bhuvar' is the arms, for there are two arms, and there are these two syllables; the word 'Svar' is the feet, for there are two feet, and there are these two syllables. His secret name is 'Aham.' He who knows as above destroys and shuns evil.

"Bhur,   Bhuvar,   Svar"

These repeated words again have the same meaning as above but the reference is now to the   "being who is in the right eye"   which represents the   "self"   in creation.

"His secret name is 'Aham"

Aham means   "I Am"   which is that Self within creation.

" He who knows as above destroys and shuns evil"

Again meditation  "He who knows"   on the phenomena of creation may,   through that very meditation,   achieve higher worlds   (Consciousness).
But only he who knows that the subtle   (secret)   reference here is to the Non-Dual Absolute Self that transcends this material creation with its evils of duality will also   "shun evil"   and gain the immortality of the transcendent Absolute Self.   is the meaning here.
Compare 2.1.13   This being who is in the self, I meditate upon as Brahman

 

Section 6.

5.6.1   This being identified with the mind and resplendent (is realised by the Yogins) within the heart like a grain of rice or barley. He is the lord of all, the ruler of all, and governs whatever there is.

"This being identified with the mind and resplendent"

With this verse the Sruti gives an authentic description of the vital force or personal desire assuming the function of mind and intellect.
The   "self"   or the Absolute Self does not suffer the label   "resplendent".

"(is realised by the Yogins) within the heart"

This   "heart"   means the subtle space within the body,   as it were,   or the subtle space that the body form occupies as it were,   and is Consciousness as knowledge being the intuitive intellect formed of mind and this   "heart"   through which truth or divine knowledge can be discriminated or   "realised."
Through this intellect or Buddhi the   "self"   can be known.
But,   if the function of Buddhi has not come into awareness through purification and stillness of being then Manas takes control as a vital force,   the   "resplendent"   "self" of the ignorant.

The adept Yogin realises the delusion of a vital force.

"within the heart like a grain of rice or barley"

Therefore if the yogin actually believes he has recognised the Absolute Self residing within   "like a grain of rice or barley"   then he has been misled by duality and a vital force.
Certainly one must enquire and search within for   "That"   intuition which   "recognises"   the Self.   But The Absolute Self   "self"   transcends all This.

"He is the lord of all, the ruler of all, and governs whatever there is"

This   "he"   is material creation controlled or moved by desire;   "he"   is a vital force understood by the ignorant to be creation itself as Divine manifestation,   instead of a transient projection of Absolute Knowledge caused by desire.
All conforms to the Knowledge that is the Absolute but the Absolute is merely the witness of this.

 

Section 7.

5.7.1   They say lightning is Brahman. It is called lightning (Vidyut) because it scatters (darkness). He who knows it as such, that lightning is Brahman, scatters evils (that are ranged against) him, for lightning is indeed Brahman.

"They say lightning is Brahman"

The Brahman referred to here is again Satya Brahman,   Brahman as creation.   In reality all creation is Brahman.   Here the occurrence of lightning is depicting Brahman with an attribute of material existence   (lightning).
The meaning for meditation is that lightning breaks the darkness and illuminates material reality,   just like the Absolute Brahman has the illuminating action of truth.
But meditation on the conditioned Brahman for results such as avoiding evil   (evil means desire,   attachment and so forth)   will only be meditating to improve ones condition within creation.   In order to transcend Creation and the cycle of rebirth one has to realise the Absolute Brahman,   the Absolute Self. This Absolute Self should be the ultimate illumination of meditation.
Compare 2.1.4   That being who is in lightning, I meditate upon as Brahman

 

Ultimately,   truth lies in the consideration of cause and reason.   The cause for lightning came with Creation.   Man's desire caused Creation.   The reason for lightning does not reveal the Absolute.   Lightning reveals the created Brahman of man's desire,   the material body of vital force.

Section 8.

5.8.1   One should meditate upon speech (the Vedas) as a cow (as it were). She has four teats the sounds 'Svaha,' 'Vasat' 'Hanta' and 'Svadha.' The gods live on two of her teats the sounds 'Svaha' and 'Vasat,' men on the sound 'Hanta,' and the Manes on the sound 'Svadha' Her bull is the vital force, and her calf the mind.

"One should meditate upon speech (the Vedas) as a cow (as it were)"

Speech as knowledge of the divine,   or the Vedas as divine knowledge are the source of finer food   (milk as knowledge)   for the Created.
The Created beings are the gods,   men and the manes,   each responding or signified by the sounds   "Svaha"   "Vasat"   "Hanta" and   "Svadha".

"Her bull is the vital force"

This cow represents knowledge and as such she,   as knowledge,   can be the mother of all desires.   conjoined with the vital force as desire for rebirth then the result will be the birth or Creation of mind.
This is with reference to speech.   The concept of vital force is one that is assumed by those lacking the proper understanding of the Non-Dual Self.   This ignorance of ones Non-Duality is the cause of desires,   as such speech is often the driving force in sounding such desires.   The desire for knowledge to increase ones own substance is an error of the vital force.

"her calf the mind"

The mind as product of a vital force becomes a forceful ego.  The mind fed with the finer knowledge of the Vedas becomes the means of emancipation.

For the clarity of meditation,   meditation with the desire for gain within creation,   for knowledge, success and so forth will enhance ones being within creation but this will also make liberation from the creation cycle more difficult.
Meditation through love for the Truth of the divine Singularity that is the Absolute Brahman will lead to Self Realisation and emancipation.

 

Section 9.

5.9.1   This fire that is within a man and digests the food that is eaten, is Vaisvanara. It emits this sound that one hears by stopping the ears thus. When a man is about to leave the body, he no more hears this sound.

"This fire that is within a man and digests the food that is eaten, is Vaisvanara"

"Vaisvanara"   depicts a vital force in creation that is said to support the life of man.   Those who have not yet cognised the unreality of creation consider this vital force as divine.   This description of fire and digestion of food is seen as the vital force at work.

"It emits this sound that one hears by stopping the ears thus"

The stopping of the ears brings to the fore internal bodily sounds,   this is imagined to be the vital force of the body at work.

"When a man is about to leave the body, he no more hears this sound"

The meaning is the vital force ceasing within the body signifies the death of the body.   The "man" or   "self",   no longer "using",   as it were,   the internal organs,   which includes the ears,   will not be concerned with   "no more hears"   the body.

The meaning is,   the vital force is of the transient material realm.   The fact that all such considerations such as a vital force are left behind by the departing immortal aspect of the "man" are explained to reinforce this.

Meditation with the understanding of a vital force or the conditioned Brahman can only reproduce that material Consciousness.   To transcend materiality the meditation needs to attain the transcendent Absolute.

 

Section 10.

5.10.1   When a man departs from this world, he reaches the air, which makes an opening there for him like the hole of a chariot wheel. He goes upwards through that and reaches the sun who makes an opening there for him like the hole of a tabor. He goes upwards through that and reaches the moon, who makes an opening there for him like the hole of a drum. He goes upwards through that and reaches a world free from grief and from cold. He lives there for eternal years.

"...the air, which makes an opening"   "the sun who makes an opening"   "the moon, who makes an opening"

This is a description of the material creation giving way to the man who has transcended rebirth,   having transcended rebirth he has transcended the material mind and transcended the material senses.

"He lives there for eternal years"

This describes the man existing in an environment of higher Consciousness but although transcending rebirth he is still residing within creation   "He lives there",   he is not described as returning home as one with the Absolute.
For the purpose of meditation we should understand,   it seems,   that this man has not yet achieved full Self Realisation.
Or, the return home as unity with the Singularity of the Absolute is not considered as fact by the wise Seers until all of Creation has completed its cycle after   "eternal years"   and has been once again subsumed as pure knowledge as The Absolute.

 

Section 11.

5.11.1   This indeed is excellent austerity that a man suffers when he is ill. He who knows as above wins an excellent world. This indeed is excellent austerity that a man after death is carried to the forest. He who knows as above wins an excellent world. This indeed is excellent austerity that a man after death is placed in the fire. He who knows as above wins an excellent world.

The wisdom of this verse is well known,   that it is only through adversity that one remembers or seeks help of the divine.   It is also the demeanour of the wise,   the acceptance of austerity just the same as the acceptance of comfort.   All experience is divine for its own sake,   which is for the sake of the Divine.

The Bhagavad Gita has the story of   ...Kunti mother of Arjuna ...   Being an enlightened soul,   ...wishes for more adversity in her Life rather than enjoy a life free from peril,   lest she forgets the Grace of Lord Krishna   ......Kunti knew that an easy life free from peril would only result in forgetting and endless rebirths but a life of adversity,   traversed till the end with the Lord's   Name   (Sri Krishna)   on her lips,   would lead to liberation from the cycle of births & rebirths.

It is also an excellent reminder of the transience and unreality of this creation to know that one's   form   (body)   will only represent decaying material for disposal after one's   death.

But,   we also have the qualifying description   :-
"This indeed is excellent austerity... He who knows as above wins an excellent world"
Indicates that the idea here is the practice of austerity,   cremation and so forth performed as rites and rituals through desire seeking gain is meant.   In this case these practices may   "wins an excellent world"   but they will not transcend the world with its cycle of birth and death,   is the meaning.
The example given of Kunti was one of wise austerity.   Kunti's only motive   (desire)   in requesting adversity was that of love for the Divine Truth.

 

Section 12.

5.12.1   Some say that food is Brahman. It is not so, for food rots without the vital force. Others say that the vital force is Brahman. It is not so, for the vital force dries up without food. But these two deities being united attain their highest. So Pratrda said to his father, 'What good indeed can I do to one who knows like this, and what evil indeed can I do to him either?' The father, with a gesture of the hand, said, 'Oh, no, Pratrda, for who would attain his highest by being indentified with them?' Then he said to him this: 'It is Vi. Food is Vi,for all these creatures rest on food. It is Ram. The vital force is Ram, for all these creatures delight if there is the vital force.' On him who knows as above all creatures rest, and in him all creatures delight.

"Some say that food is Brahman. It is not so, for food rots without the vital force. Others say that the vital force is Brahman. It is not so, for the vital force dries up without food. But these two deities being united attain their highest".

This verse is to explain that the understanding of   "some"   who believe in a   Vital Force   and material form to be the highest knowledge are deluded through ignorance.

"Pratrda said to his father, 'What good indeed can I do to one who knows like this, and what evil indeed can I do to him either?"

The sage Pratrda identifies the Satya Brahman, the conditioned Brahman as being food and the vital force conjoined.   From this deduction Pratrda declares that one who knows this Brahman transcends both help and injury   this would be due to being a superior force in creation.   Pratrda's understanding forgets the reality of the Non-Dual Absolute Brahman.

"The father... said, Oh, no, Pratrda, for who would attain his highest by being indentified with them?"

The father of Pratrda declares that this knowing of the Satya Brahman,   the conditioned Brahman and vital force is not the highest knowledge,   not the Absolute Brahman.

"he said to him this: 'It is Vi.   Food is Vi,   for all these creatures rest on food"

The father proceeds to explain that food is the body because all creatures rest   (live)   in their material bodies.

"It is Ram. The vital force is Ram, for all these creatures delight if there is the vital force".

Further to the above,   creatures with a material understanding derive their greatest pleasure,   satisfaction and delight from what they consider to be   "their"   Vital Force   they delight in the breath of life,   that is they seek nothing higher than material existence.

"On him who knows as above all creatures rest, and in him all creatures delight"

The term   "On him who knows as above"   means that he meditates with the understanding of a vital force.
This meditation leads to rebirth within material Creation which causes the further Creation of material food   (this universe as the food of desire).   On food   "all creatures rest...all creatures delight".

Our understanding of this verse is that the being who identified himself with the form and consequently whose main source of delight is the pleasure from living and breathing will not   "attain his highest"   resting on this identity and understanding.
He that lives for his body and strength will find delight for as long as he has it.   But his is the short lived delight of transience and decay.
He   "who would attain his highest"   is he who would realise the Absolute Brahman thereby transcending material Creation.

 

Section 13.

5.13.1   (One should meditate upon the vital force as) the Uktha (a hymn of praise). The vital force is the Uktha, for it raises this universe. From him who knows as above rises a son who is a knower of the vital force, and he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Uktha.

"One should meditate upon the vital force as..."

The vital force is caused by the delusion that raised all this universe.   To realise this through meditation is to realise The Absolute and gain emancipation from all this.

"The vital force is the Uktha, for it raises this universe".

The Creation of this universe has been said to be the result of desire and ignorance.

"From him who knows as above rises a son who is a knower of the vital force".

From this original desire and ignorance is formed an understanding of vital force which is the desire to maintain and flourish within this Creation of ignorance through further Creation symbolised by the son.

"and he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Uktha".

He who praises the power of the material form will endow his offspring with pride in their form.   Through their pride and belief in themselves as endowed from a loving Father they will raise their stature to that of all powerful.   But they are destined to suffer the transience of material decay.   They will not be uplifted through the knowledge of the eternal Self so they are destined to reside in the world,   "he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Uktha."   This means to suffer rebirth,   albeit in a higher Consciousness,   because they have revered their father as their mentor and teacher but he had no knowledge of the Self to reveal to them.

 

5.13.2   (One should meditate upon the vital force as) the Yajus. The vital force is the Yajus, for all these beings are joined with one another if there is the vital force. All beings are joined for the eminence of him who knows as above, and he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Yajus (vital force).

"One should meditate upon the vital force as..."

The vital force is the delusion that raised all this.   To realise this through meditation is to realise The Absolute and gain emancipation from all this.

"The vital force is the Yajus, for all these beings are joined with one another if there is the vital force"

The meaning is that if there is a vital force then there will persist a desire for further creation   (sons)   and through this further creation all forms are related or   "are joined"

"All beings are joined for the eminence of him who knows as above, and he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the..(vital force)"

"He" who knows as above is the cause of his line of descendents or relatives.   Through being the Creator due to his original desire   "he"   (vital force)   is seen as having   "eminence"   in his line of relatives.
He whose understanding contains desire will live in the world of a vital force,   "he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Yajus."   This means to suffer rebirth.   To transcend his present   (material)   state this one needs to relinquish worldly considerations such as the vital force and meditate on The Absolute Brahman as the One Reality that is the true unity of Existence.

 

5.13.3   (One should meditate upon the vital force as) the Saman. The vital force is the Saman, for all these beings are united if there is the vital force. For him who knows as above all beings are united, and they succeed in bringing about his eminence, and he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Saman.

"One should meditate upon the vital force as..."

The vital force is the delusion that raised all this.   To realise this through meditation is to realise The Absolute and gain emancipation from all this.

"The vital force is the Saman, for all these beings are united if there is the vital force."

As before,   because the vital force perpetuates creation then the created will have desire and the vital force in common through rebirth.
One who meditates on the vital force as the source of unity is one whose Consciousness and awareness is limited to the material world.

"For him who knows as above all beings are united, and they succeed in bringing about his eminence, and he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Saman."

All beings in creation are united through birth.   "he achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Saman."   This means to suffer rebirth.   This one who meditates on the reality of a vital force will achieve rebirth within the world of a vital force (Saman) thereby contributing to the eminence of the first born   (vital force).

 

5.13.4   (One should meditate upon the vital force as) the Ksatra. The vital force is the Ksatra, for it is indeed the Ksatra. The vital force protects the body from wounds. He who knows as above attains this Ksatra (vital force) that has no other protector, and achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Ksatra.

"One should meditate upon the vital force as..."

The vital force is the delusion that raised all this.   To realise this through meditation is to realise The Absolute and gain emancipation from all this.

"The vital force protects the body from wounds"

One who meditate on the power he feels to protect the form   (the vital force)   will still ultimately see the death of the form and return through rebirth to the very same world,   if indeed that is his conscious desire.

"He who knows as above attains this Ksatra (vital force) that has no other protector, and achieves union with and abode in the same world as the Ksatra".

The vital force has   "no other protector"   because the vital force derives from original desire.   Arising from original desire itself a vital force has no protector because it was the first in this creation of Maya and it has no true validity.
As said above to meditate on the reality of a vital force is to achieve rebirth and continuing material union within the world of the vital force.
One who meditates on the Absolute as the True source of all this will Realise a love for that Truth and being guided by that love will have no concern or desire for the form   (body),   consequently his path will be the return home as unity with the Absolute.

 

Section 14.

5.14.1   'Bhumi' (the earth), 'Antariksa' (sky) and 'Dyaus' (heaven) make eight syllables, and the first foot of the Gayatri has eight syllables. So the above three worlds constitute the first foot of the Gayatri. He who knows the first foot of the Gayatri to be such wins as much as there is in those three worlds.

"(the earth)....(sky).... (heaven)....make eight syllables".

The Sanskrit name of the above three symbolic worlds are used in the Gayatri.   The Gayatri consisting of three   "supports"   or   "feet"   describes Brahman,   meaning that this Brahman symbolically represents the Absolute Brahman but understood through its projections,   which are the objects and forms of the material universe.   In effect this Brahman stands or is supported within creation,   that is,   this Brahman has a material form.

"the first foot of the Gayatri has eight syllables. So the above three worlds constitute the first foot of the Gayatri".
These worlds of earth sky and heaven symbolise the levels of Consciousness that are attainable through the higher levels of knowing and understanding achieved within Consciousness experiencing of life.

"He who knows the first foot of the Gayatri to be such wins as much...those three worlds"
"He who knows"   means he who meditates or he whose understanding encompasses this knowledge.
So   "he who knows"   this much of the Gayatri wins all that these three worlds of Consciousness reveals,   which being worldly and material cannot on their own transcend Creation.

 

5.14.2   'Rcah,' 'Yajumsi' and 'Samani' make eight syllables, and the second foot of the Gayatri has eight syllables.   So the above three Vedas constitute the second foot of the Gayatri.   He who knows the second foot of the Gayatri to be such wins as much as that treasury of knowledge,   the three Vedas,   has to confer.

"Rcah' 'Yajumsi' and 'Samani' make eight syllables".

As the three worlds above form the eight syllables of the first foot so here the eight syllables of these three Vedas are said to form the second foot of the Gayatri.

"and the second foot of the Gayatri has eight syllables.   So the above three Vedas constitute the second foot of the Gayatri".

These Vedas represent or are knowledge.   So the second foot or worldly support of this Brahman that has material attributes is known through this knowledge or Vedas.

"He who knows the second foot of the Gayatri to be such wins as much as that treasury of knowledge,   the three Vedas,   has to confer".

As before   "He who knows"   means he who meditates on this understanding or he whose understanding encompasses this knowledge.
So   "He who knows"   Brahman through these Vedas   "wins as much as that treasury of knowledge".
The meaning is that one will acquire this knowledge.   But knowledge needs to be Realised to be true before its full meaning can be experienced in reality.
Conferred knowledge   (or gifted or won knowledge)   is just information.   He who amasses knowledge as treasure lives in ignorance.   Ignorance of the Self makes all possessions worthless including knowledge.   One needs to meditate to realise the Absolute Self to gain true knowledge.   To realise the Absolute Self is to realise all knowledge.

 

5.14.3   'Prana,' 'Apana' and 'Vyana 'make eight syllables, and the third foot of the Gayatri has eight syllables.   So the above three forms of the vital force constitute the third foot of the Gayatri.   He who knows the third foot of the Gayatri to be such wins all the living beings that are in the universe.   Now its Turiya,   apparently visible,   supramundane foot is indeed this the sun that shines.   'Turiya'   means the fourth   'Apparently visible foot,' because he is seen,   as it were.   'Supramundane,' because he shines on the whole universe as its overlord.   He who knows the fourth foot of the Gayatri to be such shines in the same way with splendour and fame.

"'Prana,' 'Apana' and 'Vyana 'make eight syllables, and the third foot of the Gayatri has eight syllables".

Prana,   Apana and Vyana are components of the said vital force,   so it is being stated that one foot or support for this Brahman relies on the vital force.

"He who knows the third foot of the Gayatri to be such wins all the living beings that are in the universe".

The understanding that a vital force is desirable to know or attain due to its providing for a material life within the realm of Creation is the very understanding that limits ones Consciousness to the realm of creation.   This limitation within Consciousness prevents the individual   "self"   from Realising the Absolute Self and gaining emancipation from Creation and transmigration.   Shankara himself has said that one needs to realise a distaste for this life in order to transcend this creation and Realise the Absolute.

So far the Sruti has considered the Gayatri consisting of three feet.   As we have described in the above commentary for each of those three feet,   any meditation that considers the divine as having the attributes of worlds,   knowledge and a vital force will win the results of that meditation.   The meaning is that through meditation on the above the material benefits and divine awareness of the above can be won,   but this awareness will not transcend Creation itself to Realise the Divine Absolute Self.   Further,   all that has been named here as support for this Gayatri and its benefits can be seen to be ultimately transient and mortal.

"Now its Turiya,   apparently visible,   supramundane foot is indeed this the sun that shines"

"Turiya"   means four.   In this verse a   "fourth"   foot or support of the Gayatri is said to be the sun that shines.   The sun represents a transcendent singularity through which all aspects of the Gayatri can be seen and known.

"'Turiya'   means the fourth   'Apparently visible foot,' because he is seen,   as it were".

Due to the light of the sun the worldly attributes or feet of the Gayatri are seen.   From the qualification   "as it were"   we are to understand a more subtle meaning here.  
The sun is taken to represent a transcendent single source of understanding through which all things can be seen or known.

"Supramundane,' because he shines on the whole universe as its overlord."

The sun is taken to represent the divine that is above the mundane world and shines on or   "sees"   the whole universe.

"He who knows the fourth foot of the Gayatri to be such shines in the same way with splendour and fame".

He whose meditations transcend the Created universe while being aware that the universe itself is lit or supported by a divine singularity can Realise and achieve unity with that divine Absolute Singularity.
All the living beings that there are in the Universe and all that is not living is but the One Consciousness The Absolute.   The Consciousness that is the Absolute is self effulgent.   He who relies on the senses within creation can only ever be lord within creation.   He who has meditated and has come to see the Absolute through divine grace becomes the light of the eternal Truth.

But, "He" whose understanding does not transcend the Gayatri will remain conscious of   "splendour and fame".

 

5.14.4   That Gayatri rests on this fourth, apparently visible, supramundane foot. That again rests on truth. The eye is truth, for the eye is indeed truth. Therefore if even to-day two persons come disputing, one saying, 'I saw it,' and another, 'I heard of it,' we believe him only who says, 'I saw it.' That truth rests on strength. The vital force is strength. (Hence) truth rests on the vital force. Therefore they say strength is more powerful than truth. Thus the Gayatri rests on the vital force within the body. That Gayatri saved the Gayas. The organs are the Gayas; so it saved the organs. Now, because it saved the organs, therefore it is called the Gayatri. The Savitri that the teacher communicates to the pupil is no other than this. It saves the organs of him to whom it is communicated.

"That Gayatri rests on this fourth, apparently visible, supramundane foot"

That we are considering the Gayatri that is ultimately supported by creation indicates the very material limitation of understanding that it offers.

"That again rests on truth. The eye is truth"

This truth that is the eye is the limited mortal truth that is creation.   The eye and all senses report the truth of forms,   but all the forms of creation are merely projections of the eternal Absolute Truth and Knowledge.   The Gayatri is said to rest on the eye and forms of creation that are called truth but the Absolute Self that transcends creation is the Truth of this projected truth the transient forms of the eye and so forth.
It is this Transcendent Absolute singularity that one needs to consider.

"That truth rests on strength. The vital force is strength".

The projected forms of creation desiring material life seek their support from a vital force that eats food and provides for the material well being of their form.   So those who believe the truth of the form to be the ultimate truth   (because they are ignorant of their identity with the non-dual Absolute)   see the vital force as strength supporting their truth and reality.

"Therefore they say strength is more powerful than truth".

The term vital force indicates an understanding of material strength.   The ignorance due to duality sees a need for a   "Personal"   vital strength that can maintain their life   "against the odds",   as it were,   of duality.

"Thus the Gayatri rests on the vital force within the body".

The Gayatri that is known through the forms of creation relies on those forms and those forms rely on a vital force.   The forms of the body are ultimately transient and mortal as would be a vital force.

"It saves the organs of him to whom it is communicated".

The Gayatri that encompasses a vital force which is the very desire for the maintenance and flourishing of   "my"   life will naturally provide for the well being of the organs of the body.

They that say strength is more powerful than truth are they that see reality,   truth within the material creation that is maintained by the strength of a vital force.

 

5.14.5   Some communicate (to the pupil) the Savitri that is Anustubh (saying), 'Speech is anustubh; we shall impart that to him.' One should not do like that. One should communicate that Savitri which is the Gayatri. Even if a man who knows as above accepts too much as gift, as it were, it is not (enough) for even one foot of the Gayatri.

"Some communicate (to the pupil) the Savitri that is Anustubh (saying), 'Speech is anustubh; we shall impart that to him.' One should not do like that".

This refers to a difference of understanding or belief between different groups.   It is being said that the Gayatri mantra is correct for this use and the Anustubh incorrect.   Further one group believes also that speech is the main support for the Gayatri but again here we are told that a vital force is the support that is meant.

"One should communicate that Savitri which is the Gayatri".

This is confirmation of the above.

"Even if a man who knows as above accepts too much as gift, as it were, it is not (enough) for even one foot of the Gayatri".

The meaning of   "gift"   here means all teaching,   knowledge and so forth that is accepted without accompanying personal effort to experience the truth of the knowledge.   Knowledge that is seen and accepted as complete,   as a   "gift"   as it were,   without further work and verification to produce from this   "gift"   the full realisation and understanding of its truth is an unrealistic   "accepting"   is the meaning.
The term   "it is not (enough) for even one foot of the Gayatri"   means that the proper understanding of even one foot of the Gayatri will compensate for knowledge accepted as a gift but not properly understood in truth.
Or,   conversely,   no matter how much divine knowledge one is given as a gift it will not be worth as much as even the knowledge of one foot of the Gayatri if the meaning of that knowledge is truly realised.

 

5.14.6   He who accepts these three worlds replete (with wealth), will be receiving (the results of knowing) only the first foot of the Gayatri. He who accepts as much as this treasury of knowledge, the Vedas, (has to confer), will receive (the results of knowing) only its second foot. And he who accepts as much as (is covered by) all living beings, will receive (the results of knowing) only its third foot. While its fourth, apparently visible, supramundane foot, the sun that shines, is not to be counterbalanced by any gift received. Indeed how could any one accept so much as gift?

"He who accepts these three worlds replete (with wealth), will be receiving (the results of knowing) only the first foot of the Gayatri".

This is confirmation of our statements in the above commentaries regarding the Gayatri that is described variously as supported by worlds,   knowledge and vital force.
The meaning is that because this understanding of the Gayatri for meditation relies on the forms of Creation itself then that meditation will produce only the results of the objects of Creation and will therefore also be transient and mortal.   That is,   this Gyatri that is accepted without accompanying work for proper Realisation that will transcend Creation is incomplete.

"He who accepts as much as this treasury of knowledge, the Vedas, (has to confer), will receive (the results of knowing) only its second foot".

As explained above,   the mere acceptance as a   "gift"   of this knowledge produces only material results.

"he who accepts as much as (is covered by) all living beings, will receive (the results of knowing) only its third foot".

Again this scriptural knowledge is just words or a   "gift"   until its truth is properly Realised.

"While its fourth, apparently visible, supramundane foot, the sun that shines, is not to be counterbalanced by any gift received".

This concerns the meditation that realises the meaning of the words that are a gift of the scriptures to transcend all words to Realise the Absolute Non-Dual Consciousness.   The sun although an object within creation symbolises that unity of knowledge Absolute that transcends all this.

"Indeed how could any one accept so much as gift "

The meaning here is that the Non-Dual Singularity that is the Absolute cannot be described other than Not This not this.   Therefore Self Realisation cannot be gifted in any form.

The commentary of these verses has not considered the Gaytri as such but merely the principle and folly of seeking material scriptural rewards from the words.   These verses are saying that a teacher could not give you all these gifts and anyway it is wrong to receive gifts   (It would be wrong understanding to imagine that such knowledge could be simply gained through a gift).   One would have to practice a yoga and meditate to gain them.
The comment on this remains the same. That to meditate for earthly comfort and merit is folly.   The wise would forgo trying to avoid the adversity of this material existence and devote their meditations to achieving eternal unity with the Absolute.

The wise and all knowing Sruti demonstrates here its knowledge of all levels of understanding from duality leading to the highest truth of non-duality Advaita.

 

5.14.7   Its salutation: 'O Gayatri, thou art one-footed, two-footed, three-footed and four-footed, and thou art without any feet, for thou art unattainable. Salutation to thee, the fourth, apparently visible, supramundane foot! May the enemy never attain his object!' (Should the knower of the Gayatri) bear hatred towards anybody, (he should) either (use this Mantra): 'Such and such may his desired object never flourish!' in which case that object of the person against whom he thus salutes the Gayatri, never flourishes, or (he may say), 'May I attain that (cherished object) of his!'

"Its salutation: 'O Gayatri, thou art one-footed, two-footed, three-footed and four-footed".

Confirmation here that the proper consideration of the Gayatri will include the fourth foot.

"and thou art without any feet, for thou art unattainable".

Through the consideration of the fourth foot which transcends Creation one comes to Realise That which alone Exists,   described as   "Not This not this"   the Absolute is   "unattainable"   and can only be known   "of".

"Salutation to thee, the fourth, apparently visible, supramundane foot".

"apparently visible, supramundane foot"   means that although the sun symbolises the effect of lighting Creation in truth the light of Absolute knowledge which in truth lights Creation is not known through the senses because this light transcends Creation.

"May the enemy never attain his object"!

The enemy of man is desire,   the object of desire is creation itself it is mans purpose to transcend Creation to return to Absolute Consciousness.

"(Should the knower of the Gayatri) bear hatred towards anybody, (he should) either (use this Mantra): ...may his desired object never flourish"!

This means the use of the Gayatri mantra with proper understanding is to relinquish desire and return to the Truth of the Absolute.

"or (he may say), 'May I attain that (cherished object) of his"!

This means that if there is desire it should be the desire for the love of the Absolute.

The wise person of discrimination and reason will be seeking that which is eternal and true.   From this seeking he will have come to see those that cause duality through labels such as enemy and hate etc. as deluded.   The world of the wise is motivated towards truth and reality.
The wise have no time for the transient problems of those that dislike them.   The wise seek unity through contemplation and meditation.

One should generally be practising inner enquiry as part of one's being.   One should be asking in earnest what is This?   This very existence?   Why not nothing?   Why This thinking?   To whom is this thought arising?   Who am "I"?

 

5.14.8   On this Janaka, Emperor of Videha, is said to have told Budila, the son of Asvataraiva, 'Well, you gave yourself out as a knower of the Gayatri; then why, alas, are you carrying (me) as an elephant?' He replied, 'Because I did not know its mouth, O Emperor.' 'Fire is its mouth. Even if they put a large quantity of fuel into the fire, it is all burnt up. Similarly, even if one who knows as above commits a great many sins, he consumes them all and becomes pure, cleansed, undecaying and immortal.'

This verse dealing with the mouth completes the treatment of the Gayatri.   It tells the story of Janaka's elephant describing how it was a knower of the Gayatri in its previous life as a man but due to his lacking in full understanding of the Gayatri he incurred rebirth as an elephant.

"On this Janaka, Emperor of Videha, is said to have told Budila, the son of Asvataraiva, 'Well, you gave yourself out as a knower of the Gayatri; then why, alas, are you carrying (me) as an elephant"?

The meaning here hinges on the term   "knower of the Gayatri"   This is a reference to all that is received simply as a gift.   We have been told above that the words of the Scriptures and Gayatri through meditation will produce only the material results of those words.   One needs to realise the higher truth that those words contain to escape rebirth,   transcend creation and return home to the Absolute.

"He replied, 'Because I did not know its mouth, O Emperor.' 'Fire is its mouth".

Fire represents the act of Creating and Creation itself.   Speaking in terms of the Gayatri,   in its unrealised form as resting on the vital force and the ignorance of creation it remains as desire hungry for the objects of creation for its food and support.
So here Budila meditated on the material support of the Gayatri and achieved the worldly form of an elephant.

"Even if they put a large quantity of fuel into the fire, it is all burnt up".

This refers to the insatiable desires that perpetuate the Creation through rebirth of the objects of desire which are the food of desire.
Creation is the fire,   the fuel for the fire is the objects of desire.   The Gayatri that is supported by creation is the Gayatri that is ultimately supported by a vital force which is the desire to maintain the Created.
Although all of Creation is mortal   " it is all burnt up"   it would be eternally recreated or maintained by insatiable desire and a vital force.

"Similarly, even if one who knows as above commits a great many sins, he consumes them all and becomes pure, cleansed, undecaying and immortal".

This last verse indicates the merits of Meditation on the Absolute Brahman over scriptural knowledge alone,   in seeking the Divine.
If Budila had meditated on that which transcends Creation and realised the Absolute he would at once have consumed all sins because all sins are a form of ignorance and to realise the Absolute is to realise the Truth and Truth consumes ignorance.

 

Section 15.

5.15.1   The face (nature) of Satya (Brahman) is hidden (as it were) with a golden vessel. 0 Pusan (nourisher of the world, the sun), remove it, so that I, whose reality is Satya, may see (the face). O Pusan, O solitary Rsi (seer or traveller), O Yama (controller), O Surya (sun), O son of Prajapati (God or Hiranyagarbha), take away thy rays, curb thy brightness. I wish to behold that most benignant form of thine. I myself am that person; and I am immortal. (When my body falls) may my vital force return to the air (cosmic force), and this body too, reduced to ashes, (go to the earth)! O Fire, who art the syllable 'Om' O Deity of deliberations, recollect, recollect, all that I have done, O Deity of deliberations, recollect, recollect all that I have done. O Fire, lead us along the good way towards our riches (deserts). O Lord, thou knowest everybody's mental states; remove the wily evil from us. We utter repeated salutations to thee.

"The face (nature) of Satya (Brahman) is hidden (as it were) with a golden vessel"

Here at the last verse of the main body of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad we are reminded of the opening verses of the Upanishad
"Om. The head of the sacrificial horse is the dawn, its eye the sun... The gold vessel called Mahiman in front of the horse, is the day"
The   "golden vessel"   represents the sun in the symbolism of the sacrifice ritual.
The reality and truth of the singularity that is Consciousness and Knowledge Absolute cannot be seen from within the conscious experience of this creation of dimensions and forms due to  Maya   .
The meaning is that due to our being conscious only of the sense of sight and sunlight the forms of creation are all that can be seen.
The Truth of the Absolute   "is hidden (as it were) with a golden vessel"   that is hidden by the sun and our senses as material creation.

"remove it, so that I... may see (the face)....take away thy rays, curb thy brightness"

In those opening verses of this Upanishad that Brahman desired rebirth with greater status through the ritual of the horse sacrifice.
Here this wiser Satya Brahman prays for the material creation of sun and light to be removed to prevent the senses from being dazzled by Creation and allow the truth of the Divine that transcends Creation to be revealed to him.
To take away the senses is to take away the universe,   to take away the universe is to leave Consciousness alone,   Consciousness alone is the Divine Absolute.
The meaning of this plea is for release from material existence,   and this life of delusion.   The desire is to see the Truth of the Absolute.

"I wish to behold that most benignant form of thine. I myself am that person; and I am immortal"

This declaration of identity with the Absolute is the understanding of Realisation.   The wish   "to behold that most benignant form"   is commensurate with release from the cycle of rebirth.

"(When my body falls) may my vital force return to the air....and this body too, reduced to ashes, (go to the earth)! O Fire, who art the syllable Om"

Now at the end of the Upanishad the much wiser Satya Brahman prays for release from the creation cycle of rebirth,

"may my vital force return to the air (cosmic force), and this body too, reduced to ashes."

The meaning is,   I have no desire to take the form of a body again.

"recollect, recollect all that I have done. O Fire, lead us along the good way towards our riches (deserts)"

This one who prays for release prays for the northern route,   (not the southern route of rebirth)   to the Absolute.

"O Fire, lead us along the good way"   and seeks the purifying of his sins.

The reference to   "riches deserts"   we understand to exclude material reward but is simply the desire for unity as ones true identity.

"thou knowest everybody's mental states; remove the wily evil from us. We utter repeated salutations to thee"

This is the prayer of a dying man seeking the liberation of identity with the Absolute.   This one asks that his material body be returned to the elements and his immortal self be cleansed of evil   (desire)   and receive the rewards of past good deeds.

In this Non-Duality of Consciousness all is known and what is in ones heart is also known.   So all will be well.

 

 

Ohm   peace,   peace,   peace.

 

Continue to Chapter Six