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The Interdependence of Created Objects - Mutual Relationship of Everything with Everything Else - Story of Sage Dadhyan Atharvana.


We cannot look upon something and judge a thing independently in the real life situation where everything is connected with and related to everything else. We hardly ever have a standard conclusion in conditions where that which is judged has become one with the measuring rod of judgment itself. This inter-dependence of things and inter-connectedness of values is discussed in this section of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad called the Madhu-Vidya or The Honey Doctrine.

Madhu literally means honey, but it is used here in the sense of helpfulness. In this world, everything is mutually helpful (honey) to everything else. There is a mutual supporting system in this world. This is expressed through a series of passages containing the same theme quoting different examples. The first passage is explained in this essay in detail to understand what is meant by mutuality and inter-connectedness while the rest is dealt with briefly as they contain the same idea through different illustrations.

What is the relationship between living beings and various objects or phenomena of the universe? They support each other and nourish each other, each being like honey for the other. This relationship of mutual support arises because of the One Self which is common to all. As an example, the same Self pervades the earth, the living beings, the consciousness in earth and the consciousness in living beings. This applies to all gross elements or abstract principles. The Upanishad considers the examples of 1.five primeval elements – earth, water, fire, air and space 2.five cosmic phenomena – sun, moon, directions, lightening and clouds 3. Law – dharma, 4.Truth 5. Mankind and 6. Mind to explain this idea.

The conclusion drawn is that Self is the ultimate cause of all beings; it is the support of everything like a hub in a wheel. Everything in the universe is interconnected – vitally and organically through Consciousness. Nothing exists in isolation. Everything in the universe is an effect of the Ultimate Cause, variously called as Brahman, Self or Atman. Every effect tends to gravitate towards its Ultimate Causeless Cause and eventually merge into It.

Self dwells in all beings. There is nothing that is not pervaded by It. The Upanishadic Mantras say that everything, including the ten organs of perception and action, are yoked to Self. Self is without cause or effect, without interior or exterior. Self, the Absolute reveals itself through the relative universe. To say that the world veils Self is ignorance; to recognize that the world reveals Self is Knowledge. The repeated emphasis is that Self is immortal; It is Brahman; It is all.


1) This Earth is (like) the honey (effect) for all beings and all beings are (like) the honey (effect) for this earth. Likewise, the bright, immortal being who is in this earth and the bright, immortal, being who is in the body – indeed, these four are just this Self. The Knowledge of this Self is the means to Immortality; this underlying unity is Brahman; this Knowledge of Brahman is the means of becoming all.

The word madhu or honey here denotes the causal relationship and mutual dependence of the earth and all beings; the one cannot exist without the other. Bees make honey and the honey makes or supports the bees. Bees and honey are both cause and effect and are mutually dependent. They are conducive to each other’s welfare. So too, the earth is created from the actions of all beings from Hiranyagarbha to the blade of grass and the beings are dependent on earth.

The four entities referred to in the Mantra are the earth, all beings, the immortal being in the earth and the immortal being in the body. These four are the composite effect of all beings and all beings are the effect of these four. They are mutually dependent and conducive to one another’s welfare. Hence they all have originated from the same cause; they all belong to the same genus, and in the end they will all merge in the same substance. That cause which is the support, origin etc of all is Brahman. Brahman alone is real. Everything else is an effect, a modification, a mere name, an effort of speech.

The previous section stated that Immortality can be attained only by means of knowledge, through the practice of renunciation. It was stated further that the Self should be heard of, reflected upon and meditated upon. The reflection is to be on the reasoning that the universe has sprung from the Self, has the Self alone for its genus and dissolves into the Self. The present section gives this idea a spiritual authority.

2) This water is like the honey (effect) of all beings and all beings are like the honey (effect) of this water. Likewise, the bright, immortal being who is in this water and the bright, immortal being existing as the semen in the body are both honey. These four are but this Self. The Knowledge of this Self is the means to Immortality; this underlying unity is Brahman; this Knowledge of Brahman is the means of becoming all.

The water-principle is the honey of all beings, and all beings are the honey of the water-principle as the cause thereof, and the cause which is the water-principle is not independent of the part which proceeds from the whole.

The seed in the individual, the vital force in the individual is the representation of the water-principle in the cosmos. Both these are co-related to each other, and they are animated by a single Being, the Immortal Atman, the Self of all which is, veritably, everything, the Absolute Brahman.