तदेतद्ब्रह्म क्षत्रं विद् शूद्रः; तदग्निनैव देवेषु ब्रह्माभवत्; ब्राह्मणो मनुष्येषु, क्षत्रियेण क्षत्रियो, वैश्येन वैश्यह्, सूद्रेण शूद्रः; तस्मादग्नावेव देवेषु लोकमिच्छन्ते, ब्राह्मणे मनुष्येषु, एताभ्यां हि रूपाभ्यां ब्रह्माभवत् । अथ यो ह वा अस्माल्लोकात्स्वं लोकमदृष्त्वा प्रैति, स एनमविदितो न भुनक्ति, यथा वेदो वाननूक्तः, अन्यद्वा कर्माकृतम्; यदिह वा अप्यनेवंविन्महत्पुण्यं कर्म करोति, तद्धास्यान्ततः क्षीयत एव; आत्मानमेव लोकमुपासीत; स य आत्मानमेव लोकमुपास्ते, न हस्य कर्म क्षीयते । अस्माद्ध्येवात्मनो यद्यत्कामयते तत्तत्सृजते ॥ १४ ॥
tadetadbrahma kṣatraṃ vid śūdraḥ; tadagninaiva deveṣu brahmābhavat; brāhmaṇo manuṣyeṣu, kṣatriyeṇa kṣatriyo, vaiśyena vaiśyah, sūdreṇa śūdraḥ; tasmādagnāveva deveṣu lokamicchante, brāhmaṇe manuṣyeṣu, etābhyāṃ hi rūpābhyāṃ brahmābhavat | atha yo ha vā asmāllokātsvaṃ lokamadṛṣṭvā praiti, sa enamavidito na bhunakti, yathā vedo vānanūktaḥ, anyadvā karmākṛtam; yadiha vā apyanevaṃvinmahatpuṇyaṃ karma karoti, taddhāsyāntataḥ kṣīyata eva; ātmānameva lokamupāsīta; sa ya ātmānameva lokamupāste, na hasya karma kṣīyate | asmāddhyevātmano yadyatkāmayate tattatsṛjate || 14 ||
15. (So) these (four castes were projected)— the Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra. He became a. Brāhmaṇa among the gods as Fire, and among then as the Brāhmaṇa. (He became) a Kṣatriya through the (divine) Kṣatriyas, a Vaiśya through the (divine) Vaiśyas and a Śūdra through the (divine) Śūdra. Therefore people desire to attain the results of their rites among the gods through fire, and among men as the Brāhmaṇa. For Brahmaṇ was in these two forms. If, however, anybody departs from this world without realising his own world (the Self), It, being unknown, does not protect him—as the Vedas not studied, or any other work not undertaken (do not). Even if a man who does not know It as such performs a great many meritorious acts in the world, those acts of his are surely exhausted in the end. One should meditate only upon the world of the Self. He who meditates only upon the world called the Self never has his work exhausted. From this very Self he projects whatever he wants.
(So) these four castes were projected— the Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra. They are repeated here together in order to introduce what follows. He, Brahman, the Projector (Virāj), became a Brāhmaṇa among the gods as Fire, and in no other form, and became a Brāhmaṇa among men as the Brāhmaṇa, directly. In the other castes he appeared in a changed form: (He bceame) a Kṣatriya through the
(divine) Kṣatriyas, i.e. being presided over by Indra and other gods; a Vaiśya through the (divine) Vaiśyas and a Śūdra through the (divine) Śūdra. Because Brahman, the Projector, was changed in the Kṣatriya and other castes, and was unchanged in Fire and the Brāhmaṇa, therefore people desire to attain the results of their rites among the gods through fire, i.e. by performing rites connected with it. It is for this purpose that Brahman abides in the form of fire, which is the receptacle in which sacrificial rites are performed. Therefore it stands to reason that people wish to attain results by performing those rites in the fire. And among men as the Brāhmaṇa: If they want human results, there is no need for rites depending on fire etc., but simply by being born as a Brāhmaṇa they attain their life’s ends. And it is only when they desire to attain results that depend on the gods, that they have to resort to rites connected with fire. The Smṛti, too, says, ‘But a Brāhmaṇa may undoubtedly attain perfection through the repetition of sacred formulæ, whether he does other rites (connected with fire) or not. A Brāhmaṇa is one who is friendly to all’ (M. II. 87). Also because the monastic life is open to him only. Therefore people seek to attain the results of their rites, so far as they belong to the human plane, by attaining Brāhmaṇahood. For Brahman, the Projector, was directly in these two forms, the Brāhmaṇa and fire, that are respectively the agent and the receptacle of the rites.
Some explain the passage differently, saying that people wish to realise the world of the Supreme Self by means of fire and the Brāhmaṇa. This is wrong, for the division of castes has been introduced in order to defend the undertaking of rites by people who are under ignorance, and a specification also follows. If the word ‘world’ here refers to the Supreme Self, the specification that follows, viz. ‘Without realising one’s own world (the Self),’ would be meaningless. If the world in question that is prayed for as being dependent on fire, is any other world but the Self, then only the specification by the word ‘own’ would be consistent as refuting that extraneous world. The world that is the Self is always denoted by the words ‘one’s own,’ while those that are created by ignorance can never be ‘one’s own.’ That the worlds attained through rites are not ‘one’s own’ is stated by the words, ‘(Those acts) are surely exhausted.’
One may object: Brahman projected the four castes for the sake of ritualistic work. And that work, called righteousness, being obligatory on all, controls all and helps them to achieve their life’s ends. Therefore, if by that work one attains one’s own world called the Supreme Self, although It may be unknown, what is the good of setting It up as the goal? This is being answered: ‘If, however, —the word ‘however’ refutes the prima facie view— anybody, owing to identification with the rites depending on fire, or with the duties belonging to the Brāhmaṇa caste, departs or dies from this transmigratory, adventitious and extraneous world consisting of the taking up of a body and caused by ignorance, desire and work, without realising his own world called the Self—because It is always one’s own Self—as, ‘I am Brahman,’ It —although It is his own world, yet— being unknown, obstructed by ignorance and therefore virtually becoming extraneous to oneself, does not protect him by removing his evils such as grief, delusion and fear—as the man in the story (the conventional ‘self’) fails to protect himself for not knowing that he is the missing tenth man. As the Vedas not studied do not protect a man by enlightening him on the rites etc., or any other, secular, work, e.g. agriculture, not undertaken, not manifested in its own form, does not protect anybody by bestowing its results, similarly the Supreme Self, although It is one’s own world, on account of not being manifested in Its own form as the eternal Self, does not protect one by destroying one’s ignorance etc.
Objection: What is the good of seeking protection through the realisation of one’s own world, the Self? Since the rites are sure to produce results, and there are a great many rites conducive to beneficent results, the protection that they will afford will be everlasting.
Reply: Not so, for anything made is perishable. This is-being stated: Even if a man, a wonderful genius, who does not know It, his own world, the Self, as such, in the manner described above, continuously performs a great many meritorious acts such as the horse sacrifice, producing only beneficent results, in the world, with the idea that through those alone he will attain eternity, those acts of his, of this ignorant man, being due to desire created by ignorance, are surely exhausted in the end, when he has enjoyed their fruits, like the splendour arising from the fantasy of a dream. They are bound to be perishable, for their causes, ignorance and desire, are unstable. Hence there is no hope whatsoever that the protection afforded by the results of meritorious acts will be eternal. Therefore one should meditate only upon the world of the Self, one’s own world. The word ‘Self’ is here used in an identical sense with the last words, for ‘one’s own world’ is the topic, and here the words ‘one’s own’ are omitted. He who meditates only upon the world of the Self —what happens to him?— never has his work exhausted, simply because he has no work. This is a restatement of an eternal fact. That is to say, an ignorant man continuously suffers from the misery of transmigration by way of exhaustion of the results of his work. Not so this sage. As Emperor Janaka said, ‘If Mithilā is ablaze, nothing of mine is burning’ (Mbh. XII. clxxvi. 56).
Some say that the ritualistic work itself of a sage who meditates upon the world of his own Self never decays, because of its combination with meditation. And they interpret the word ‘world’ as inseparably connected with rites in a double aspect: One is the manifested world called Hiraṇyagarbha, which is the repository of ritualistic work, and he who meditates upon this manifested, limited world connected with ritualistic work has his work exhausted, for he identifies himself with the result of limited work. But he who meditates upon that very world connected with work by reducing it to its causal form, the undifferentiated state, does not have his work exhausted, as he identifies himself with the result of unlimited work. This is a nice conceit, but not according to the Śruti, for the words ‘one’s own world’ refer to the Supreme Self which is under consideration. Also, after introducing It in the words ‘one’s own world’ the text again refers to It by dropping the qualifying phrase ‘one’s own’ and using the word ‘Self’ in the sentence, ‘One should meditate only upon the world of the Self.’ So there is no scope for conceiving a world connected with ritualistic work. Another reason for this is the qualification further on by words signifying pure knowledge, ‘What shall we achieve through children, we who have attained this Self, this world (result)?’ (IV. iv. 22). The words ‘this Self our world’ mark It off from the worlds attainable through a son, ritualistic work and lower knowledge (meditation). Also, ‘His world is not destroyed by any kind of work’ (Kau. III. 1), and ‘This is its highest world’ (IV. iii. 32). The passage in question ought to have the same import as those just quoted, with the qualifying words. For here also we find the specification ‘one’s own world.’
Objection: You are wrong, for the sage desires objects through this. That is to say, if ‘one’s own world’ is the Supreme Self, then by meditating upon It one will become That. In that case it is not proper to mention results apart from the attainment of the Self, as in the passage, ‘From this (very) Self he projects whatever he wants’ (this text).
Reply: Not so, for the passage extols meditation on the world of the Self. The meaning is that the world of the Self alone stands for all that is desirable to him, for he has nothing else but It to ask for, since he has already attained all his objects. Just as another Śruti puts it, ‘From the Self is the vital force, from the Self is hope’ (Ch. VII. xxvi. 1). Or the passage may indicate that he is identified with all, as before (I. iv. 10). If he becomes one with the Supreme Self, then only it is proper to use the word ‘Self’ in the phrase ‘from this very Self,’ meaning, ‘from one’s own world, the Self,’ which is the topic. Otherwise the text would have specified it by saying, ‘From the world of work in an undifferentiated state,’ to distinguish it from the world of the Supreme Self as well as from work in a manifested state. But since the Supreme Self has already been introduced (as ‘one’s own world’) and been subsequently specified (by the word ‘Self’), you cannot assume an intermediate state not mentioned in the Śruti.
It has been said that an ignorant man identifying himself with his caste, order of life, and so on, and being controlled by righteousness, thinks he has certain duties to the gods and others and is dependent on them like an animal. Now what are those duties that make him so dependent, and who are the gods and others whom he serves through his actions like an animal? To answer this the text deals with both at length: