Manage episode 343424879 series 3395269
Hello Friends, wishing you all a very happy Dusherra and Subho Bijoya Dashami. I welcome you all to another episode of Stories from Upanishads. Today’s interesting story appears in the 3rd Brahmana of the 1st Adhyaya of Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad. In my podcast series, this is the first story from this Upanishad, which is a part of Shukla Yajurveda and believed to be composed between the 9th-6th centuries BCE. It is one of the Dashopnishads to which Adi Shankaracharya provided his Bhasya- commentary.
Prajapati (Lord Brahma or Supreme Father) had two kinds of children - Asuras -Demons and Devas -gods. Asuras were influenced by their natural thoughts and actions based only on perception and inference. They were directed merely to visual ends. The Devas - gods shined under the influence of thoughts and actions taught by the scriptures. Asuras (Demons) who were the elder ones were more in number whereas Devas (gods) the younger ones were fewer. The asuras were strong, powerful, misguided, selfish and always willing to show their supremacy over others. These traits were not liked by their younger siblings - gods. They were generous, helping, lovable, respected all beings and wise! The younger siblings were tired of their elder brothers as they always wanted to dominate on them by snatching away their belongings such as Heaven. The gods were irritated and annoyed by this behaviour of Asuras. Since they were fewer in number, they decided to perform a yagna - a sacrifice called Jyotiṣṭoma, to overcome their troublesome brothers. On a side note: Jyotishstoma, is a form of Vedic sacrifice which literally means “praise of light”. However, this sacrificial Yagna has different meanings throughout Indian scriptures. The word -“Jyotish” means “Light” and the word -“Stoma” means “sacrifice”. However, the literal meaning ranges from, a yagna in which Soma is offered…to a yagna which requires 16 officiating priests. For the sake of understanding, let’s think of it… as some large-scale yagna or (sacrifice). Well coming back to the story, devas were hell-bent on performing the difficult Jyotishstoma Yagna, but there was an issue.
The Yagna required perfect pronunciation and recitation of mantras or (chants) which could be only done by a Udgaatr, who will act as Udgaatri and will sing Udgitha.
On a side note - Let me explain to you these terms, …as per Āpastamba-yajña-paribhāṣā-sūtras, Udgaatr is the priest with Sama Veda, Hotr priest performs Rig Veda, Adhvaryu priest performs Yajur Veda and the Brahmaa priest performs with all three Vedas. When the priest chants the verses at the yagna, they could ask for gifts or blessings both for the Yajamana -the host and also for themselves. If the chanting was perfect, both would receive the boons or blessings they desired!
The gods consulted among themselves and debated on the various organs of senses to become their Udgaatri as they were pure! They all decided that a mouth with a sense of Vaak or Speech should be their Udgaatri and will sing Udgitha during the yagna. Mouth agreed to participate in this noble motive. Thus the Mouth with its Speech becomes an Udgaatri and begins chanting Udgitha for her Yajamana - the gods. She begins to chant Pavamana abhyaaroha - the Chants of purification
Speech chanted -Aum, asato mā sadgamaya, tamaso mā jyotirgamaya, mṛtyormā'mṛtaṃ gamaya.Aum Shantih, Shantih, Shantih!Again on a side note - This supreme divine Pavamana Abhyaaroha has been hailed as one of the most powerful mantras from the Upanishads. Although different thinkers, philosophers and saints have translated this mantra in different ways, however, the basic meaning still remained the same. The most common and popular meaning states that -“
From falsehood lead me to truth, From darkness lead me to light, From death lead me to immortality.”
Coming back to the story…
The purest chants of pavamana abhyaaroha filled the air, the atmosphere was pious and pure and the stage was well set for the Jyotishstoma yagna. The Speech chanted Udgitha, and she asked the boon on behalf of her yajamana- the gods… to bring in the great joy that comes from being able to say things and for herself, she asked for the ability to say only things that were pleasant! On completion of the chant, they received blessings! Demons on hearing a such purest form of Udgitha from Speech were scared! They regrouped together and one of them exclaimed - “Speech as Udgaatr and her purest form of Udgitha will definitely provide gods with more power! They will eventually overcome us! ”We cannot let this happen!” They all shouted! They all rushed towards Speech and pierced her with evil and pitted her with unpleasantness! That “evil” is that which consists in saying what is bad! This may be the cause… we speak good things mostly and sometimes say awfully bad things! The evil injected into the Speech by the demons makes us say bad things! This act of demons made the Speech impure and she declined to chant any further and complete the yagna. Gods were in trouble as now they need to find a new Udgaatri for the yagna! They consulted with each other and decided the sense organ Nose and the sense “Smell” to be their new priest! The Nose agreed happily to participate in the yagna. She too chanted Udgitha perfectly and asked for the gods the great joys that come from being able to smell and for herself, she asked for the ability to smell only what is pleasant and agreeable! On completion, they received the boons! Again as before demons were in a tizzy! They decided to stop Smell from being Udgaatri. They rushed towards her and pitted her with disagreeable and obnoxious things. This is that “evil” which consists in smelling what is bad!This made Smell become impure and leave the yagna midway! The demons rejoiced! This may be the cause we mostly smell pleasant and agreeable things and sometimes smell awfully obnoxious things! The evil injected into the Smell by the demons… makes us smell disgusting things! Gods went to the next sense organ - the Eyes and its sense Sight and requested her to become their priest for the yagna and which she happily agreed to. The Eyes recited the Udgaatr perfectly! She asked for boons and blessings for the gods, and the delight that comes from being able to see things and for herself, she asked to see what is pleasant, beautiful and agreeable! Demons were sacred again! “With this beauty-filled Udgaatri… the god's yagna will be a success! We must stop it at once!” Said the demons they rushed towards the Sight and indented her with unpleasant, ugly and evil sights. That is the “evil” which consists in seeing what is bad and ugly! This may be the cause we see mostly good and agreeable things and sometimes we see ugly and unpleasant things! The evil injected into the Sight by the demons makes us see awful, grisly and hideous things! Disappointed gods now turned towards the next sense organ - Ears and its sense the Hearing to become their priest for the yagna. Ears agreed to become their priest for the Nobel cause. She recited the Udgaatr and asked blessings and boons for the gods, the delight that comes from being able to hear! For herself, she asked for hearing only what was melodious and harmonious. Disturbed demons told among themselves -“With the calm and melody, definitely God yagna will be successful! We must stop Hearing at once!”They indented her with evil, disharmony, cacophony and discords! That evil which consists in hearing what is disharmonious, cacophonous and noisy, that is that “evil”!Now embedded with impurity, Hearing left the yagna! This may be the cause we hear melodious, harmonic and agreeable things mostly and sometimes we hear noise and cacophony things! The evil injected into Hearing by the demons makes us hear awful, noisy and bewailing things! Gods now turned to the mind and requested her to be their priest! The mind readily agreed and recited the Udgitha! As a boon she asked for the gods to whatever delight there is in mind and for herself she asked to think well and good! Gods knew that nothing is going to stop the mind from completing the yagna now! They were happy but it was short-lived! The demons injected her with evil and bad thoughts! That evil consists in thinking what is bad, atrocious and unacceptable, that is that “evil”! The impure mind left the Yagna without completing it.Now gods were left with none other than Life breath - Praana! He agreed to become Udgaatr and recite Udgitha for them! Without Praana there would be no gods or asuras and when he started singing the chants, he asked nothing as a boon for himself! Furious asuras said -“With this Nobel Udgaatri, gods will surely overcome us! We must stop it at once” They all rushed at the Life breath and tried to pit it with all immorality, corruption, evil and vices! As they did that, just like a ball of mud when hurled at a rock gets scattered in every direction when it hits it, the demons perished and scattered in all directions. This is how the gods won and the demons perished! Anyone who understands that the Praana - Vital Force is only pure! There is nothing like impure Praana, it is the truest and purest thing in the body! One who realises this meditates on this crushes the inner demons and rises above with his true Self! The gods exclaimed that Death has carried away the Speech, Hearing, Smell, Sight and Mind beyond. Its contact has made them impure! However, know that Death is not attached to the Praana - Vital Force. Praana’s purity is conspicuous. The Vital Force - Praana took away the death, and the evil from the gods beyond to the territories where Vedic knowledge is prevalent and left their evils there. This territory is pure and purifies anything which is present there. It also carried the organs of senses to the beyond along with it! The Vital Force carried the mouth - the “Speech” across first. This freed Speech from the evils of death. It was disassociated from the evils. When it was freed, the Speech became Agni - fire. That “Fire” after being freed from death shines beyond its reach! Then he carried the nose - “Smell” across, and when it was disassociated from evils of death, it became Vaayu- Air. That “Air” after having transcended from evils of death blows beyond its reach!Then the vital force carried the eye - “Sight” across to the territory prevalent of Vedic Knowledge and got rid of the evils of death! It became the - Sun! That “Sun” had beaten the evils of death, and shines beyond its reach!Then it carried the ear- “Hearing”. When the ear got rid of death, it became the “quarters”, which after defeating death remain beyond its reach! Death cannot reach it! Then it carried the mind! When it was freed from the clutches of death, it became the “moon”! This “moon” defeating death, shines beyond its reach! So the Vital Force - Praana, carries the one who is knowledgeable and ascetic to the territories where death cannot reach!As during the Jyotishstoma Yagna, all these organs of senses had become Udgatr and had chanted the Pavamaana for their own sake. The results from this purest form of chanting are shared by all the organs of the senses. On a side note - As per the Vedic traditions, a priest who chants the mantras and hymns also gets the results of a sacrifice! When the results of the sacrifice were consumed by the Praana, the vital force - as it too consumed the results as it sustains the organs of senses and lives in the body! Hence the sense organs which were contaminated with the contact of evil were purified by the Praana - the purest vital force! The benefits of chants consumed by the Praana- vital force also satisfied the organs of senses! The gods asked their Udgaatris, the organs of senses -“You all have consumed your share of goodness from the chants of Pavaamana! Now, we also must have our share!” Then Praana said -“Sit around facing me!” The gods sat all around the Praana facing it. The benefits of the chants were also consumed by the gods as it comes through the vital force it sustains it. Thus all these results come to those who are sustained by the Vital Force. That was the story of pure vital force and how it sustains us! Furthermore, the Vital Force is called Ayaasya Aangirasa. Since it did not assume any particular form, it restored the Speech and other organs of senses to their real status. Did we learn anything from this story? I learnt we can be in situations which might be evil and unpleasant. It’s all up to us how we deal with such conditions. Our inner self, our vital force - Praana is always Pure. We can come out of the such situation just by believing in ourselves. However bad it is our vital force -Praana holds us, guides us and doesn’t allow it to detract from us. However, there are many who are misguided and caught up in situations which are unpleasant and unfitting. I believe they can still come out of this mess by believing in themselves and ensuring on their vital force - Praana. As of now maybe their organs of senses are overpowered by evils but still they can fight back using and believing in their “Pure Praana”, just like the evils of sense organs were smashed like a clod of mud after hitting a hard rock!
Friends, please get ready for today’s questions -
Question 1 - What were the two kinds of children of Prajapati? Who was more in number?
Question 2 - Who all were convinced to become Udgaatri in Jyotistoma Yagna?Question 3 - How and which Udgaatr defeated the Asuras?
Please email me your responses to email@example.com, I would really love to have your responses soon.
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