यत्र हि द्वैतमिव भवति तदितर इतरं पश्यति, तदितर इतरंजिघ्रति, तदितर इतरं रसयते, तदितर इतरमभिवदति, तदितर इतरं शृणोति, तदितर इतरं मनुते, तदितर इतरं स्पृशति, तदितर इतरं विजानाति; यत्र त्वस्य सर्वमात्मैवाभूत्, तत्केन कं पश्येत्, तत्केन कं जिघ्रेत्, तत्केन कं रसयेत्, तत्केन कमभिवदेत्, तत्केन कं शृणुयात्, तत्केन कं मन्वीत तत्केन कं स्पृशेत्, तत्केन कं विजानीयात्? येनेदं सर्वं विजानाति तं केन विजानीयात्? स एष नेति नेत्यात्मा, अगृह्यो न हि गृह्यते, अशीर्यो न हि शीर्यते, असङ्गो न हि सज्यते, असितो न व्यथते, न रिष्यति; विज्ञातारमरे केन विजानीयात्, इत्युक्तानुशासनासि मैत्रेयि, एतावदरे खल्वमृतत्वमिति होक्त्वा याज्ञवल्क्यो विजहार ॥ १५ ॥
इति पञ्चमं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
yatra hi dvaitamiva bhavati taditara itaraṃ paśyati, taditara itaraṃjighrati, taditara itaraṃ rasayate, taditara itaramabhivadati, taditara itaraṃ śṛṇoti, taditara itaraṃ manute, taditara itaraṃ spṛśati, taditara itaraṃ vijānāti; yatra tvasya sarvamātmaivābhūt, tatkena kaṃ paśyet, tatkena kaṃ jighret, tatkena kaṃ rasayet, tatkena kamabhivadet, tatkena kaṃ śṛṇuyāt, tatkena kaṃ manvīta tatkena kaṃ spṛśet, tatkena kaṃ vijānīyāt? yenedaṃ sarvaṃ vijānāti taṃ kena vijānīyāt? sa eṣa neti netyātmā, agṛhyo na hi gṛhyate, aśīryo na hi śīryate, asaṅgo na hi sajyate, asito na vyathate, na riṣyati; vijñātāramare kena vijānīyāt, ityuktānuśāsanāsi maitreyi, etāvadare khalvamṛtatvamiti hoktvā yājñavalkyo vijahāra || 15 ||
iti pañcamaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
15. Because when there is duality, as it were, then one sees something, one smells something, one tastes something, one speaks something, one hears something, one thinks something, one touches something, one knows something. But when to the knower of Brahman everything has become the Self, then what should one see and through what, what should one smell and through what, what should one taste and through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one hear and through what, what should one think and through what, what should one touch and through what, what should one know and through what? Through what should one know that owing to which all this is known? This self is That which has been described as ‘Not this, not this.’ It is imperceptible, for It is never perceived; undecaying, for It never decays; unattached, for It is never attached; unfettered—it never feels pain, and never suffers injury. Through what, O Maitreyī, should one know the Knower? So you have got the instruction, Maitreyī. This much indeed is (the means of) immortality, my dear. Saying this Yājña-valkya left.
In all the four chapters one and the same self has been ascertained to be the Supreme Brahman. But the means to Its attainment are various. The goal of all of them, however, is that Self which has been pointed out in the second chapter in the words, ‘Now therefore the description: Not this, not this’ (II. iii. 6). The same has also been ascertained in the third chapter, in the dialogue between Śākalya and Yājñavalkya, where death (the falling off of the head) was mentioned as the wager; then at the end of the third chapter, next in the dialogue between Janaka and Yājñavalkya, and again here at the conclusion of the Upaniṣad. In order to show that all the four chapters are exclusively devoted to this Self, and that no other meaning is intended in between, the conclusion has been made with the words, ‘This self is That which has been described as “Not this, not this,”’ etc.
Since, in spite of the truth being presented in a hundred ways, the Self is the last word of it all, arrived at by the process of ‘Not this, not this,’ and nothing else is perceived either through reasoning or through scriptural statement, therefore the knowledge of this Self by the process of ‘Not this, not this’ and the renunciation of everything are the only means of attaining immortality. To bring out this conclusion the text says: This much indeed—this realisation of the Self, the one without a second, by the eliminating process of ‘Not this, not this,’ is (the means of) immortality, my dear Maitreyī, and this is independent of any auxiliary means. That of which you asked me saying, ‘Tell me, sir, of that alone which you know (to be the only means of immortality),’ is just this much. So you have known it. Saying this, describing this Self-knowledge, the means of immortality, to his beloved wife Maitreyī, Yājñavalkya—what did he do?—did what he had first proposed saying, ‘I am going to renounce this life’—left, i.e. became a monk. The discussion of the knowledge of Brahman, culminating in renunciation, is finished. This much is the instruction, this is the teaching of the Vedas, this is the ultimate goal, this is the end of what a man should do to achieve his highest good.
Now we are going to have a discussion in order to get a clear conception of the meaning of the scriptures, for we see various conflicting statements in them. For instance, the following texts indicate that there is only one order of life (the householder’s): ‘One should perform the Agnihotra for life’ (Ba.), ‘One should perform the new and full moon sacrifices for life’ (Ibid.), ‘One should wish to live a hundred years on earth only performing rites’ (Iś. 2), ‘This Agnihotra is a sacrifice that must be continued till decay and death come’ (Ś. XII. iv. ii. 1), and so on. There are also statements establishing another order of life (monasticism): ‘Knowing (the Self)… they give up desires… and renounce their homes,’ ‘After finishing the student life he should be a householder, from that he should pass on to the life of a hermit in the forest, and then become a monk. Or he may do otherwise—he should renounce the world from the student life itself, or from the householder’s life, or from the hermit life’ (Np. 77; Jā. 4, adapted), ‘There are but two outstanding paths—first the path of rites, and next monasticism; of these the latter excels’ (cf. Tai. Ā. X. lxii. 12), and ‘Neither through rites, nor through progeny, nor through wealth, but through renunciation some attained immortality’ (Mn. X. 5; Kai. 2). Similarly the Smṛtis: ‘One who leads the student life renounces’ (Āp. II. xxi. 8, 19), ‘One who leads a perfectly celibate life may enter into any order of life’ (Va. VIII. 2), ‘Some say he has an option of choosing his order of life’ (Gau. III. 1); also, ‘After studying the Vedas as a student, he should seek to have sons and grandsons to purify his ancestors. Lighting the sacred fires and making sacrifices according to the injunctions, he should retire into the forest and then seek to become a monk’ (Mbh. XII. clxxiv. 6), ‘The Brāhmaṇa, after performing the sacrifice to Prajāpati and giving all his wealth to the priests as remuneration, should place the fires within himself and renounce his home’ (M. VI. 38), and so on.
Thus hundreds of contradictory passages from the Śrutis and Smṛtis are found, inculcating an option with regard to renunciation, or a succession among the orders of life, or the adoption of any one of them at will. The conduct of those who are versed in these scriptures has also been mutually conflicting. And there is disagreement even among great scholars who understand the meaning of the scriptures. Hence it is impossible for persons of shallow understanding clearly to grasp the meaning of the scriptures. It is only those who have a firm hold on the scriptures and logic, that Can distinguish the particular meaning of any of those passages from that of the others. Therefore, in order to indicate their exact meaning, we shall discuss them according to our understanding.
Prima facie view: The Vedas inculcate only rites, for the Śruti passages such as, ‘(One should perform the Agnihotra) for life’ (Ba.), admit of no other meaning. The Śruti speaks of the last rite of a man in these terms, ‘They burn him with the sacrificial vessels.’ There is also the statement about the rites being continued till decay and death come. Besides there is this hint, ‘(This) body, reduced to ashes,’ etc. (V. xv. i; īś. 17). If he were a monk, his body should not be reduced to ashes. The Smṛti also says, ‘He alone should be considered entitled to the study of these scriptures, whose rites from conception to the funeral ground are performed with the utterance of sacred formulæ, and no one else’ (M. II. 16). The rites that are enjoined by the Vedas to be performed in this life with the utterance of sacred formulæ, are shown by the Smṛti to terminate only on the funeral ground. And because a man who does not perform those rites is not entitled (to the study of the Smṛtis), he is absolutely debarred from having any right to the study of the Vedas. Besides, it is forbidden to extinguish the sacred fire, as in the passage, ‘He who extinguishes the sacred fire destroys the power of the gods’ (Tai. S. I. v. ii. 1).
The opponent’s answer: No, for the Śruti texts inculcating renunciation etc. have a different meaning. To be explicit: Since such Śruti texts as, ‘One should perform the Agnihotra for life’ (Ba.), ‘One should perform the new and full moon sacrifices for life’ (Ibid.), make such rites depend on life itself, and for that reason cannot be interpreted differently, whereas the passages inculcating renunciation etc. are applicable to those who are unfit for rites, therefore there is no option (with regard to the meaning of the Vedas as inculcating rites). Besides, since the Śruti says, ‘One should wish to live a hundred years tin earth only performing rites’ (Iś. 2), and the passage, ‘One is absolved (from rites) either by extreme old age or by death’ ÍŚ. XIL iv. i. i), leaves no room for the ritualist to quit the rites except in the event of extreme old age or death, the injunction regarding their being, continued in these cases up to the funeral ground, is not optional. Moreover, the blind, the hump-backed, and so forth, who are unfit for rites, surely deserve the compassion of the Śruti; hence the injunction about other orders of life such as monasticism are not out of place (as being applicable to them).
Question: But there will be no room for the injunction regarding the sequence of monasticism.
The opponent’s answer: Not so, for the Viśvajit and Sarvamedha sacrifices will be an exception to the rule about the lifelong performance of sacrifices. In other words, these two sacrifices are the only exceptions to the injunction about the lifelong performance of sacrifices, and the succession referred to in the passage, ‘After finishing the student life he should be a householder, from that he should pass on to the life of a hermit in the forest, and then become a monk’ (Np. 77; Jā. 4, adapted), is applicable to these cases. There will thus be no contradiction. That is to say, if the injunction relating to the sequence of monasticism applies to such cases, then there is no contradiction, for the sequence holds good. But if it is regarded as applicable to other cases, the injunction about the lifelong performance of sacrifices is restricted in its scope. Whereas, if the sequence is applicable to the Viśvajit and Sarvamedha sacrifices, there is no such contradiction.
The Advaitins reply: Your view is wrong, for you have admitted Self-knowledge to be the means of immortality. To be explicit: You have admitted the Self-knowledge that has been introduced with the words, ‘The Self alone is to be meditated upon’ (I iv. 7), and concluded with, ‘This self is That which has been described as “Not this, not this,”’ (III. ix. 26). So you are only reluctant to admit that this much alone is the means of immortality, independently of anything else. Now I ask you why you are intolerant of Self-knowledge.
Objection: Here is my reason. As, to a person who wants heaven, but does not know the means of its attainment, the Vedas inculcate such means as the Agnihotra, so here also, to one who wants to attain immortality, but does not know the means of it, they inculcate the instruction desired—‘Tell me, sir, of that alone which you know (to be the only means of immortality, (II. iv. 3; IV. v. 4)—in the words, ‘This much… my dear’ (IV. v. 15).
Reply: In that case, just as you admit the Agnihotra etc., inculcated by the Vedas, to be the means of attaining heaven, so also you should do with Self-knowledge. You should admit it to be the means of immortality exactly as it is inculcated, for in either case the authority is the same.
Objection: What would happen if it is admitted?
Reply: Since Self-knowledge destroys the cause of all actions, the awakening of knowledge would terminate them. Now rites such as the Agnihotra, which are connected with the wife and fire, can be performed only if there are agencies for whom they are meant, and this entails an idea of difference. In other words, they cannot be performed unless there are the gods—Fire, etc.—for whose sake they are undertaken, and this last depends on the sacrificer’s regarding the gods as different from himself. That notion of difference regarding the deities to be honoured, in view of which such deities are recommended by the Vedas as means to sacrifices, is destroyed in the state of enlightenment by knowledge, as we know from such Śruti passages as, ‘He (who worships another god thinking), “He is one, and I am another,” does not know’ (I. iv. io), ‘The gods oust one who knows them as different from the Self’ (II. iv. 6; IV. v. 7), ‘He goes from death to death who sees difference, as it were, in It’ (IV. iv. 19; Ka. IV. 10), ‘It should be realised in one form only’ (IV. iv. 20), and ‘He sees all as the Self’ (IV. iv. 23). Nor is Self-knowledge dependent on place, time, circumstances, etc., for it relates to the Self, which is an eternal verity. It is rites which, being bound up with persons (i e. subjective), may depend on place, time, circumstances, etc.; but knowledge, being bound up with reality (i.e. objective), never depends on them. As fire is hot, and as the ether is formless (independently of place, time, etc.), so also is Self-knowledge.
Objection: If this is so, the Vedic injunctions about rites, which are an unquestionable authority, are nullified; and of two things possessing equal authority, one should not nullify the other.
Reply: Not so, for Self-knowledge only destroys one’s natural idea of difference. It does not nullify other injunctions; it only stops the idea of difference ingrained in us.
Objection: Still, when the cause of rites is removed, they are impossible, and it virtually means that the injunctions regarding them are gone.
Reply: No, it is not open to the charge, for it is analogous to the cessation of our tendency to perform rites having material ends, when desire itself has been removed. Just as a man, induced to perform a sacrifice leading to heaven by the injunction, ‘One who desires heaven must perform sacrifices’ (Tā. XVI. iii. 3), gives up his inclination to perform this kind of sacrifice with a material end when his desire has been removed by the injunctions forbidding desires. His action does not nullify the injunctions regarding rites with material ends.
Objection: The injunction forbidding desires leads to an impression about the uselessness of them, and consequently the injunctions advocating rites with material ends cannot operate. So these injunctions are virtually nullified.
Reply: If Self-knowledge nullifies the injunctions about rites in the same way, we admit this.
Objection: But this would take away the authority of the injunctions about rites, just as the injunctions about rites with material ends are null and void when desire is forbidden. In other words, if rites are not to be undertaken, with the result that there is no one to perform them, then the injunctions about their performance become useless, and consequently the whole section of the Vedas dealing with such injunctions necessarily loses its authority.
Reply: No, it will be operative prior to the awakening of Self-knowledge. Our natural consciousness of difference regarding action, its factors and its results, will, previous to the awakening of Self-knowledge, certainly continue to be an incentive to the performance of rites, just as, before the idea about the harmful nature of desires arises, our natural craving for heaven etc. will certainly induce us to engage in rites having material ends.
Reply: No, good and evil depend on one’s intentions, for except liberation alone everything else comes within the province of ignorance. Good and evil are matters of personal whims, for we find that sacrifices are performed with death as their objective. Therefore the injunctions about rites are operative only until one is confronted with those about Self-knowledge. Hence rites do not go hand in hand with Self-knowledge, which proves that this alone is the means of immortality, as set forth in the words, ‘This much indeed is (the means of) immortality, my dear’ (IV. v. 15), for knowledge is independent of rites. Hence, even without any explicit injunction to that effect, the enlightened sage can, for reasons already stated, embrace the monastic life simply through his strong conviction about the identity of the individual self with Brahman that is devoid of the factors of an action such as the deity to whom it is performed as well as caste etc., and is immutable.
Since the ancient sages, not caring for children, renounced their homes on the ground stated in the clause, ‘We who have attained this Self, this world’ (IV. iv. 22), therefore,?ls it has been explained, this renunciation of their homes by the sages can take place simply by their knowing the world of the Self. Similarly it is proved that the man who seeks illumination can also renounce the world, for there is the statement, ‘Desiring this world alone monks renounce their homes’ (Ibid.). And we have said that rites are for the unenlightened. That is to say, because so long as ignorance persists there is scope for rites intended to produce, attain, modify, or purify, therefore rites, as we have stated, are also the means of Self-knowledge through the purification of the mind, as the Śruti says that the Brāhmaṇas seek to know It through sacrifices, etc.
Under the circumstances, if we examine the comparative efficacy, for bringing forth Self-knowledge, of the duties pertaining to the different orders of life, which concern only the unenlightened, we find that virtues such as the absence of pride which are mainly intended for the control of the senses, and meditation, discrimination, non-attachment, etc., which deal with the mind, are the direct aids. The others, owing to the predominance of injury, attachment, aversion, etc. in them, are mixed up with a good deal of evil work. Hence the monastic life is recommended for seekers after liberation, as in the following passages, ‘The giving up of all duties that have been described (as belonging to particular orders of life) is (best). Renunciation, again, is the culmination of this giving up of the duties,’ ‘O Brāhmaṇa, what will you do with wealth, or friends, or a wife, for you shall have to die? Seek the Self that has entered the cave of your intellect. Where are your grandfather and other ancestors gone, as well as your father?’ (Mbh. XII. clxxiv. 38). In the Sāṃkhya and Yoga systems also renunciation is spoken of as a direct means of knowledge. The absence of the impulsion of desire is another reason (why the seeker after liberation renounces the world). For all the scriptures tell us that the impulsion of desire is antagonistic to knowledge. Therefore, for a seeker after liberation who is disgusted with the world, the statement, ‘He should renounce the world from the student life itself,’ etc. (Np. 77), is quite reasonable, even if he is without knowledge.
Objection: But we have said that renunciation is for the man who is unfit for rites, for there alone is the scope for them; otherwise the dictum of the Śruti about the lifelong performance of rites would be contradicted.
Reply: The objection does not hold, for there is enough scope for those statements of the Śruti. We have already (p. 758) said that all rites are for the unenlightened man with desire. It is not absolutely that rites are enjoined for life. For men are generally full of desires, which concern various objects and require the help of many rites and their means. The Vedic rites are the means of various results and are to be performed by a man related to a wife and the fire; they produce many results, being performed again and again, like agriculture etc., and take a hundred years to finish, either in the householder’s life or in the forest life. Hence in view of them the Śruti texts enjoin lifelong rites. The Mantra also says, ‘One should wish to live a hundred years on earth only performing rites’ (Iś. 2). The giving up of rites after the Viśvajit and Sarvamedha sacrifices refers to such a man; while in the case of those on whom lifelong rites are enjoined, these should be continued right up to the funeral ground, and the body consumed in fire. Or it may be that the injunctions of the Śruti about the lifelong performance of rites concern the other two castes except the Brāhmaṇa, for the Ksatriya and the Vaiśya are not entitled to the monastic life. In that case, texts such as, ‘Whose rites… are performed with the utterance of sacred formulae’ (M. II. 16), and ‘The teachers speak of only one order of life,’ etc. (Gau. III. 36; Bau. II. vi. 29), would refer to the Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas. Therefore in accordance with a person’s capacity, knowledge, non-attachment, desire, etc., the various methods of an option with regard to renunciation, or a succession among the orders of life, or the embracing of the monastic life are not contradictory. And since monasticism has been separately enjoined on those who are unfit for rites, in the passage, ‘Whether he has completed his course of study or not, whether he has discarded the fire or been released from it,’ etc. (Jā. 4), (the above injunctions about monasticism refer to normal people qualified for rites). Therefore it is proved that the other three orders of life (besides the householder’s life) are surely meant for those who are qualified for rites.