अशनापिपासे मे सोम्य विजानीहीति यत्रैतत्पुरुषोऽशिशिषति नामाप एव तदशितं नयन्ते तद्यथा गोनायोऽश्वनायः पुरुषनाय इत्येवं तदप आचक्षतेऽशनायेति तत्रितच्छुङ्गमुत्पतितं सोम्य विजानीहि नेदममूलं भविष्यतीति ॥ ६.८.३ ॥
aśanāpipāse me somya vijānīhīti yatraitatpuruṣo’śiśiṣati nāmāpa eva tadaśitaṃ nayante tadyathā gonāyo’śvanāyaḥ puruṣanāya ityevaṃ tadapa ācakṣate’śanāyeti tatritacchuṅgamutpatitaṃ somya vijānīhi nedamamūlaṃ bhaviṣyatīti || 6.8.3 ||
3. O Somya, now learn from me about hunger and thirst. When a person is said to be hungry, it is to be understood that the food he ate has been earned away by water. Just as people refer to a leader of cows, or a leader of horses, or a leader of people, similarly, people say that water is the leader of food. So also, O Somya, know that this sprout [i.e., the body] is the product of something [i.e., of food and drink]. It cannot be without a root.
Somya, O Somya; me, from me; aśanā pipāse, about hunger and thirst; vijānīhi iti, learn; yatra, when; puruṣaḥ, a person; aśiśiṣati etat nāma, is said to be hungry; tat, then; āpaḥ eva aśitam, the water which has been drunk; nayante, has carried [the food that he ate] away; tat yathā, just as, for example; go-nāyaḥ, a leader of cows; aśva-nāyaḥ, a leader of horses; puruṣa-nāyaḥ, one who leads other people; iti, these terms people use; evam, similarly; tat apaḥ, that water; ācakṣate, people say; aśanāya iti, is the leader of food; tatra, so also; vijānīhi, know; somya, O Somya; etat śuṅgam, this sprout [i.e., the body];
In this universe we always see two things—one is the cause, and the other is the effect. These two forces are always at work. The cause becomes the effect, and again the effect becomes the cause of something else. For instance, a duck is the effect of an egg, and again, that same duck is the cause of another egg.
Buddhism also emphasizes this point. Many people are under the impression that Buddhism is an entirely new religion. But really speaking, it is not a new religion, as Buddha himself pointed out. In Buddhism, the cause and effect theory is termed pratītya-samutpāda, ‘dependent-arising’—that is, an effect arises dependent on its cause.
The Upaniṣad here takes the example of a sprout and its roots. When you see a sprout, you know at once that there must be roots, and out of those roots the sprout has come. Similarly, we see ṃ this universe many things. They seem to have come from different sources, but in reality the ultimate source is one and the same. It is Sat, pure Existence, Brahman.
In this verse, the father begins by telling his son about hunger and thirst. What does it mean when a person says, ‘I am hungry’? A few hours previously he ate something, but again he is hungry. What happened? It means that whatever he ate before has been carried away by water. Some of the water becomes blood and distributes the food to different parts of the body, and then the water carries away the waste part of the food and takes it out of the body. Then the person feels hungry again. This is why. water is said to be the leader of food.
The Upaniṣad says it is like a herd of cows. Wherever there is a herd of cows, you will find that the herd chooses a particular cow as the leader. When the cows move from place to place, the leader is ahead and all the others follow behind. Similarly, water is the leader, and the food you eat is distributed and then taken away by the water. The idea is, this body comes from food, and water is what gives it life. They go together. Nothing is independent.
Just as this body has a source, this universe also has a source. The Upaniṣad says that when you see a sprout, you know it has its source in a root. Similarly, this universe and everything that makes up this universe—such as food and water—has a source, and that source is Sat, pure Existence.