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The Taittiriiyopanishad belongs to Krishna (Black) Yajur Veda and forms the 7th - 9th chapters of the Taittiriiya Aranyaka. The Narayana Upanishad is the 10th chapter of this Aranyaka.
This Upanishad is arranged in three VaLLi-s or sections. The second and third sections discuss Brahmavidya, while the first one discusses certain preliminary matters which are required to assist the study of Brahmavidya.
The shAntimantra of this Upanishad is quite interesting. It makes a specific reference to Vaayu by namaste vAyo and describes him as pratyaksha (visible) Brahman. These references bring out that the Supreme Being is specially present in Vaayu, who is also called Brahman here to show that he possesses much higher knowldege as compared to the rest of the deities. He is also the abhimAnidevatA of the five Samhita-s mentioned.
varNa, svara, etc., Convey God
In the first section, matters connected with shikshA or Vedic phonetics such as varNa, svara, etc., are mentioned at first. This reference is not merely from the point of view of grammar, but more significantly for their spiritual significance. These convey God, as they are the names of God, who is specially present in them. The Upanishad next proceeds to describe five samhita-s in respect of five adhikaraNa-s viz., adhiloka, adhijyotishha, etc. Here again it is not mere enumeration of loka-s, different aspects of jyoti-s etc., but to provide an exposition of the presence of five forms of God -- NaarayaNa, Vaasudeva, SaMkarshaNa, etc. Even the mere enumeration of adhiloka, adhijyotishha, etc., given here makes a fascinating presentation of the cosmos, the realization of the vyUha forms of the Lord in these making it a rich presentation.
The prayer yachchhandAsaM..., etc., for the necessary intellectual ability to acquire spiritual knowledge, to get appropriate disciples, to use the tongue, ear, etc., for the recitation and listening of the glory of God, etc., is a beautiful prayer, which comes after the samhita-s. Let my tongue be sweet, let my ears listen to great things, let my knowledge be protected from evil, etc., are the points in this prayer that specially merit attention. Appeal to God to secure good students with good conduct, temper, intelligence and coming from many gotra-s (lineages) is very touching. A good teacher prays: like water flowing naturally, let students flow towards me; like months rolling on over the years, let the students roll over to me. The teacher wants to establish a good reputation by teaching such good students.
Significance Of vyAhR^iti-s And Omkaara
Next there is an exposition of vyAhR^iti-s -- bhUH, bhuvaH, svaH, and mahaH. The vyUha forms of God -- Aniruddha, Pradyumna, etc., present in them are explained. Omkaara conveys God, while the vyAhR^iti-s further explain His forms. The Gayatri mantra is an exposition of the vyAhR^iti-s and the Purushha Suukta explains the Gayatri. Thus from Omkaara, the entire sacred lore is elaborated stage by stage right up to the three Vedas, to teach about God. The important role of vyAhR^iti-s in explaining God through their meanings conveying the vyUha forms of the Supreme Being is brought out here. The significance of Omkaara conveying guNapUrNabrahma (Brahman with countless auspicious attributes) is especially brought out in the passage -- OM iti brahma. It is also stated that OM conveys not only the mUlarUpa (Original Form), but also all the incarnated forms of the Supreme Being -- OM iti idaM sarvam.h. In this manner, the Upanishad not only shows that Omkaara conveys the Supreme Being in all His forms, but also describes Him in all His forms as guNapUrNa. This interpretation of the Upanishad suits the context perfectly, as the Upanishad is giving an exposition of the various forms of God in vyAhR^iti-s, etc. Identity between God and the soul cannot be deduced here, as the description of such a guNapUrNa God clearly highlights the difference with the soul. The prayers for obtaining good students, etc., also support the same viewpoint.
The Upanishad also brings out the importance of R^ita, satya, dama, shama, etc., which are essential ingredients for acquiring sacred knowldege. svAdhyAya (self-study) and pravachana (discourse) are specially stressed here.
Instructions To Students
The most instructive part of the first VaLLi of the Taittiriiya is the section which gives instructions to students who have completed their education. These commencing with satyaM vada, dharmaM chara..., etc., contain valuable guidelines, which are relevant even today. The first and foremost thing in life is to be honest, which has to be translated in good conduct. Prosperity in both worldly and otherworldly affairs have to be kept in mind. Teaching and study should be continued. Parents, Teachers and Guests have to be attended upon appropriately. Charity commensurate to one's wealth must be practiced with conviction, and with a sense of social involvement and an enlightened attitude to life. In case of doubts with respect to any specific action or a code of conduct, one has to seek guidance from the learned and the wise. Elders should be followed only when they are themselves in the right. These instructions are commands to be followed invariably. Such is the essence of teaching of the Vedas. These instructions have an universal application and are valid today. They are also applicable to all societies. The first section closes with these injunctions.
Definition Of Brahman
The second section known as BrahmavaLLi defines Brahman in the famous passage -- satyaM j~nAnaM anantaM brahma. Each expression, satyaM, etc., brings out an important characteristic of Brahman. In fact more than one definition is implied by each of these expressions. satyaM implies creation, sustenance, regulation, and destruction (sR^ishhTi, jagajjiivanapradAtva, jagachcheshhTakatva and saMhartR^itva). j~nAnaM means God's knowledge of all in a general way as well as in detail. ananta conveys the limitless nature of God with respect to space, time and attributes. Thus the entire concept of Brahman is presented in this brief text.
In the text -- AtmanaH AkAshaH sambhUtaH, etc., the process of Creation is explained. An important point that is worth noting is that God not only initiates Creation, but intervenes at every step. He Creates the first step, enters into it, Creates the next, and so on. Therefore, the expressions AkAsha (space), vAyu (gas), etc., not only refer to these elements, but also to the immanent Brahman, who really does Creation. From AkAsha to Purushha, the whole process is due to His Creative activity.
annamaya, etc., Five Forms Of God
The five koshha-s (physical sheaths), viz., annamaya, prANamaya, etc., described here are intended to bring out the implications of the definition of Brahman given in the earlier text satyaM j~nAnaM.... They do not merely refer to the koshha-s (shells), but convey the Brahman immanent in them. It is not correct to conclude that only Anandamaya (Full of Bliss) conveys Brahman, but all the five, as fully explained in the Anandamaya adhikarana of the Brahma Suutra. It is also incorrect to take Anandamaya also as a koshha and to take brahma puchchha only as Brahman. The Upanishad is giving an exposition of the concept of Brahman and explaining its own brief definition given in the earlier text -- satyaM j~nAnaM.... To conclude that it is subsequently content to explain merely the four or five koshha-s of the souls is not coherent. Giving up the concept that Brahman is Anandamaya, by including that also as a koshha and describing Brahman by the expression brahmapuchchha is even less acceptable. It is clear therfore that the whole approach has to be different and pertinent to the context indicated by the text satyaM.... This is done by explaining the five forms of Brahman annamaya, prANamaya, etc., as immanent forms present in the five koshha-s. Thus all these forms mean Brahman only. There is also no difficulty in interpreting brahmapuchchha, when Anandamaya is also taken as referring to Brahman, as there is no difference between avayava and avayavi (Part and the Whole) in Brahman. Another point to be noted here is that the expression yato vAcho nivartante... does not mean that Brahman is totally beyond words. It only states that Brahman being Infinite can not be completely comprehended or explained.
Bhrigu Discovers God
The third VaLLi called BhriguvaLLi describes eight forms of God -- five already stated -- annamaya, etc., and three more chakshurmaya, shrotrumaya and vAgmaya. Bhrigu approaches Varuna for instructions and Varuna guides him to discover Brahman step by step. Bhrigu undertakes penance at each step as per instructions and realises the eight forms of God at each step. Certain upAsana-s (methods of worship) such as kshema, yogakshema, etc., and tR^ipti, bala, yashas, etc., are also explained. The manner in which chaturmukha-Brahma realizes these eight koshha-s: annamaya, etc., attains Liberation, and enjoys the Liberated state are described.
The passage -- satyaM j~nAnaM anantaM that gives the definition of Brahman, the five forms of Brahman -- annamaya, prANamaya..., etc., and the exposition of the process of Creation are the important topics of Taittiriiya, the very first two adhikaraNa-s, and AnandamayAdhikaraNa of the Brahma Suutra derive their subject matter from the Taittiriiya. This Upanishad thus makes very important contributions to Vedanta philosophy.
From the above brief summary of the seven Upanishads, it is clear that Delineation of the Supreme God is the central theme for all of them. The seeker is advised to follow certain upAsana-s, develop bhakti (devotion), vairAgya (detachment), etc., undertake shravaNa (listening), manana (assimilation), etc., and attain Liberation with the grace of God. Upanishads are not merely documents of speculation for intellectuals, but are fully Theistic texts developing the concept of a Supreme God. They also provide knowledge and Vision of God to the seeker.
vAdAnnirastakR^itavAn.h bhuvi tattvavAdam.h |
sarveshvaro haririti pratipAdayantaM
Ana.ndatIrthamunivaryamahaM namAmi ||
That doctrine which quells all positions arising out of ignorance and deceit, is Tattvavaada;
Ananda Tiirtha, the august among saints, who propounded the Supremacy of Hari over all, I salute.
|| bhAratIramaNamukhyaprANA.ntargata shrIkR^ishhNArpaNamastu ||
|| shrI gurubhyo namaH hariH OM ||
This section is due to Prof. K.T. Pandurangi.