तस्य हैतस्य पुरुषस्य रूपम् । यथा माहारजनं वासः, यथा पाण्ड्वाविकम्, यथेन्द्रगोपः, यथाग्न्यर्चिः, यथा पुण्डरीकम्, यथा सकृद्विद्युत्तम्; सकृद्विद्युत्तेव ह वा अस्य श्रीर्भवति य एवं वेद; अथात आदेशः—नेति नेति, न ह्येतस्मादिति नेत्यन्यत्परमस्ति; अथ नामधेयम्—सत्यस्य सत्यमिति; प्राणा वै सत्यम्, तेषामेष सत्यम् ॥ ३ ॥
इति तृतीयं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
tasya haitasya puruṣasya rūpam | yathā māhārajanaṃ vāsaḥ, yathā pāṇḍvāvikam, yathendragopaḥ, yathāgnyarciḥ, yathā puṇḍarīkam, yathā sakṛdvidyuttam; sakṛdvidyutteva ha vā asya śrīrbhavati ya evaṃ veda; athāta ādeśaḥ—neti neti, na hyetasmāditi netyanyatparamasti; atha nāmadheyam—satyasya satyamiti; prāṇā vai satyam, teṣāmeṣa satyam || 6 ||
iti tṛtīyaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
6. The form of that ‘being’ is as follows: Like a cloth dyed with turmeric, or like grey sheep’s wool, or like the (scarlet) insect called Indragopa, or like a tongue of fire, or like a white lotus, or like a flash of lightning. He who knows it as such attains splendour like a flash of lightning. Now therefore the description (of Brahman): ‘Not this, not this.’ Because there is no other and more appropriate description than this ‘Not this.’ Now Its name: ‘The Truth of truth.’ The vital force is truth, and It is the Truth of that.
The division of the gross and subtle, called truth, which are the limiting adjuncts of Brahman, into what relates to the gods and what relates to the body, in their twofold division of the body and organs, has been explained. Now we (the scriptures) shall describe the form of that ‘being’ identified with the organs, i.e. the subtle body. It consists of impressions, and is produced by the union of the intellect and the impressions of gross and subtle objects; it is variegated like pictures on a canvas or wall, is comparable to an illusion, or magic, or a mirage, and is puzzling to all. For instance, the Buddhistic Idealists (Yogācāras) are mistaken into thinking that the self is this much only. The Naiyāyikas and Vaiśeṣikas, on the other hand, maintain that like the colour of a cloth, these impressions are the attributes of the self, which is a substance. While the Sāṃkhyas hold that the mind, which is dependent on the Prakṛti and is possessed of’ three tendencies, is a separate entity, subserves the purpose of the self, and operates for its highest good (liberation through experience).
Some self-styled followers of the Upaniṣads too spin out the following theory: The gross and subtle elements make one (the lowest) entity, the Supreme Self is the highest entity, and different from and intermediate between these two is the third entity, which is the sum total of one’s meditations, actions and previous experience, together with the individual self which is the agent and experiencer, the one that Ajātaśatru awoke. The actions etc. are the cause, and the gross and subtle elements mentioned above as also the body and organs, which are the means of meditations and actions, are the effect. They also establish a connection with the logicians by stating that the actions etc. abide in the subtle body. Then they are frightened lest this should smack of Sāṃkhya, and conform also to the Vaiśeṣika view by saying that just as odour, which abides in flowers, can be conserved in oil through boiling, even when the flowers are gone, so even when the subtle body is gone, all actions etc. are conserved in a portion of the Supreme Self. That portion, although transcendent, becomes conditioned through attributes—the actions etc.—coming from elsewhere. This individual self then becomes the agent t and experiencer, and is subject to bondage and liberation. Those actions etc. are but adventitious things, coming from the elements; the individual self, being a portion of the Supreme Self, is in itself transcendent. Ignorance, which springs from the Self, although natural to It, is not an attribute of the Self, just as a desert does not affect the whole earth. Through this statement they conform also to the Sāṃkhya view.
They look upon all this as excellent because of its harmonising with the logicians’ view, but they do not see that it contradicts the verdict of the Upaniṣads as well as all reasoning. How? For instance, we have already said that if the Supreme Self be composed of parts (and the individual self be identical with It),’that view would be open to various objections, such as the Supreme Self being subject to transmigration and having wounds, besides the impossibility of Its going after death to places in accordance with Its past work. While if the individual self be eternally different from the Supreme Self, it can never be identical with It. If it is urged that the subtle body itself is figuratively referred to as part of the Supreme Self, like the ether enclosed in a jar, a bowl, the pores of the earth, etc., then it is impossible to maintain that even when the subtle body has ceased to be (as in the state of profound sleep), impressions persist in a part of the Supreme Self, or that ignorance springs from It, as a desert from the earth, and so on. Nor can we even mentally imagine that impressions move from one thing to another without the help of some object in which they can inhere. Nor would such Śruti passages as, ‘Desire, deliberation, doubt (etc. are but the mind)’ (I. v. 3), ‘It is on the heart (mind) that colours rest’ (III. ix. 20), ‘It thinks, as it were, and shakes, as it were’, (IV. iii. 7), ‘All desires that are in his heart’ (IV. iv. 7; Ka. VI. 14), and ‘He is then beyond all the woes of his heart’ (IV. iii. 22)—fit in with such a view. And it is not proper to explain these passages otherwise than literally, for they are meant to show that the individual self is no other than the Supreme Brahman. And all the Upaniṣads end by giving out this sole meaning. Therefore persons skilled only in fancifully interpreting the Śrutis all distort their meaning. Yet, if those interpretations are in consonance with the teaching of the Vedas, they are welcome; we have no grudge against them.
Moreover, the expression, ‘Brahman has but two forms,’ does not agree with the view that posits three entities. If, however, the gross and subtle forms together with the impressions respectively springing from them constitute two forms, gross and subtle, while Brahman is a third entity possessed of those two forms, and there is no fourth entity in between, then only is the assertion, ‘Brahman has but two forms,’ congruous. Otherwise we have to imagine that the individual self is a part of Brahman, and has the two forms; or that the Supreme Self, through the medium of the individual self, has them. In that case the use of the dual number, indicating only ‘two forms,’ would be inconsistent. The plural, denoting ‘many forms,’ including the impressions, would be more appropriate—the gross and subtle forms being two, and the impressions being a third entity. If it is maintained that the gross and subtle forms alone are the forms of the Supreme Self, but the impressions belong to the individual self, then the form of expression used, viz. that ‘the Supreme Self, which undergoes modification through the medium of the individual self, (has the forms),’ would be meaningless, since impressions too would equally affect the Supreme Self through the medium of the individual self. But we cannot at all imagine, except in a figurative sense, that a thing undergoes modification through the medium of something else. Nor is the individual self something different from the Supreme Self. To admit this is to contradict one’s own premise. Therefore this sort of interpretation has its origin only in the imagination of those who are ignorant of the-meaning of the Vedas, and is not warranted by the text. An interpretation of the Vedas that is not so warranted cannot be regarded either as a true interpretation or as helping towards it, for the Vedas do not derive their authority from any other source. Therefore the view that three entities are in question is untenable.
The subtle body has been introduced in connection with matters relating to the body in the clause, ‘The being that is in the right eye’ (II. iii. 5), and in connection with those relating to the gods in the clause, ‘The being that is in the sun’ (II. iii. 3). The word ‘that’ (in the expression, ‘The form of that being’) refers to something that is being discussed, in other words, that which is the essence of the subtle undefined, but not the individual self.
Objection: Why should not these forms belong to the individual self, since it too has a place in the discussion, and the word ‘that’ refers to something that is under discussion?
Reply: No, for the Śruti wants to teach the transcendent nature of the individual self. If the forms, ‘Like a cloth dyed with turmeric,’ etc. (II. iii. 6), really belong to the individual self, then it would not be described as indefinable in the terms, ‘Not this, not this.’
Objection: Suppose we say this is a description of something else, and not of the individual self.
Reply: Not so, for at the end of the fourth chapter (IV. v, 15), referring to the individual self in the words, ‘Through what, O Maitreyī, should one know the Knower?’ (IV. v. 15), it is concluded: ‘This self is That which has been described as “Not this, not this.”’ Besides, thus only can the statement, ‘I will instruct you (about Brahman),’ be relevant. That is to say, if the Śruti wants to teach the transcendent nature of the individual self—which is free from all differentiations of limiting adjuncts, then only can this assertion be fulfilled. Because, instructed in this way, the student knows himself to be Brahman, thoroughly understands the import of the scriptures, and is afraid of nothing. If, on the other hand, the individual self is one. and what is described as ‘Not this, not this’ is something else, then the student would understand just the reverse of truth, viz. that Brahman is something, and that he is something else. He would not ‘Know only himself as, “I am Brahman”’ (I. iv. 10). Therefore the forms given in the passage, ‘Now the form of that being,’ etc. are only those of the subtle body.
Besides, in order to tell the nature of the Supreme Self, which is the Truth of truth, the latter must be told in its entirety. And impressions being the particular forms of that truth, these forms of the impressions are being mentioned. These are the forms of this being, i.e. of the subtle body that is being discussed. What are they? As in life we have a cloth dyed with turmeric, so in the presence of objects of enjoyment the mind gets a similar colouring of impressions, whence a man under such circumstances is said to be attached, as a cloth, for instance, is dyed. Also as sheep’s wool is grey, so are some other forms of impressions. Again, as in the world the insect called Indragopa is deep red, so also are some impressions of the mind. The colouring varies sometimes according to the objects presented to the mind, and sometimes according to the tendencies of the mind itself. As again a tongue of fire is bright, so are some people’s impressions at times. Like a white lotus too are the impressions of some. As in nature a single flash of lightning illumines everything so according to the intensity of the manifestation of knowledge, do the impressions of some people. It is impossible to ascertain the beginning, middle or end, or number, place, time and circumstances of these impressions, for they are innumerable, and infinite are their causes. So it will be said in the fourth chapter, ‘(This self is) identified with this (what is perceived) and with that (what is inferred),’ etc. (IV. iv. 5). Therefore the examples given in the passage, ‘Like a cloth dyed with turmeric,’ etc. are not meant to indicate the exact number of the varieties of impressions, but merely to suggest their types, meaning that impressions are like these. The form of impression that has been cited at the end, viz. ‘Like a flash of lightning,’ belongs to Hiraṇyagarbha, which suddenly manifests itself like lightning, as he emanates from the Undifferentiated. He who knows that particular form of impression belonging to Hiraṇyagarbha, attains splendour like a flash of lightning. The particles ‘ha’ and ‘vai’ are for emphasis. Just like this, i.e. like that of Hiraṇyagarbha, becomes the splendour or fame of one who knows it, the form of impression last mentioned, as such, as described above.
Having thus completely described the nature of ‘truth,’ the Śruti, in order to ascertain the nature of what has been called ‘the Truth qf truth,’ viz. Brahman, begins this: Now therefore —since after ascertaining the nature of ‘truth,’ what remains is the Truth of truth, therefore the nature of that will be next ascertained. Description is a definite statement about Brahmân. What is this statement? Not this, not this.
How through these two terms ‘Not this, not this’ is it sought to describe the Truth of truth? By the elimination of all differences due to limiting adjuncts, the words refer to something that has no distinguishing mark such as name, or form, or action, or heterogeneity, or species, or qualities. Words denote things through one or other of these. But Brahman has none of these distinguishing marks. Hence It cannot be described as, ‘It. is such and such,’ as we can describe a cow by saying,. ‘There moves a white cow with horns.’ Brahman is described by means of name, form and action superimposed on It, in such terms as, ‘Knowledge, Bliss, Brahman’ (III. ix. 28), and ‘Pure Intelligence’ (II. iv. 12), ‘Brahman,’ and ‘Atman.’ When, however, we wish to describe Its true nature, free from all differences due to limiting adjuncts, then it is an utter impossibility. Then there is only one way left, viz. to describe It as ‘Not this, not this,’ by eliminating all possible specifications of It that one may know of.
These two negative particles are for conveying all-inclusiveness through repetition so as to eliminate every specification whatsoever that may occur to us. Such being the case, the doubt that Brahman has not been described is removed. If, on the other hand, the two negative particles merely eliminated just the two aspects of Brahman that are being discussed (viz. the gross and subtle), then other aspects of It besides these two would not be described, and there would still be a doubt as to what exactly Brahman is like. So that description of Brahman would be useless, for it would not satisfy one’s desire to know It. And the purpose of the sentence, T will instruct you about Brahman’ (II. i. 15), would remain unfulfilled. But when through the elimination of all limiting adjuncts the desire to know about space, time and everything else (that is not Brahman) is removed, one realises one’s identity with Brahman, the Truth of truth, which is homogeneous like a lump of salt, is Pure Intelligence, and is without interior or exterior; his desire to know is completely satisfied, and his intellect is centred in 1 the Self alone. Therefore the two negative particles in ‘Not this, not this’ are used in an all-inclusive sense.
Objection: Well, after buckling to with such ado is it fair to describe Brahman thus?
Reply: Yes. Because there is no other and more appropriate description than this ‘Not this, not this,’ therefore this is the only description of Brahman. The particle ‘iti’ covers all possible predications that are to be eliminated by the two negative particles, as when we say, ‘Every village is beautiful.’ It was said, ‘Its secret name is: The Truth of truth’ (II. i. 20); it is thus that the Supreme Brahman is the Truth of truth. Therefore the name of Brahman that has been mentioned is appropriate. What is it? The Truth of truth. The vital force is truth, and It is the Truth of that.