Prasna Upanishad (Part-1)- Origin of Created Beings



Mantra 1

om sukeshaa cha bhaaradvaajah shaibyashcha satyakaamah sauryaayanii cha gaargyah kausalyashchaashvalaayano bhaargavo vaidarbhih kabandhii kaatyaayanaste haite brahmaparaa brahmanishhthaah param brahmaanveshhamaanaa eshha ha vai tatsarvam vakshyatiiti te ha samitpaanayo bhagavantam pippalaadamupasannaah || 1||

Om. Sukesa, the son of Bharadvaja, Satyakama, the son of Sibi, Sauryayani,  belonging to the family of Garga,   Kausalya, the son of Asvala, Bhargava, the son of Bhrigu of Vidarbha,  and Kabandhi, the son of Katya - all these, devoted to Brahman and firm in  Brahman and seeking the supreme Brahman, approached, fuel in hand, the  venerable Pippalada with the thought that he would tell them everything about  Brahman.

The Upanishad starts with the  story of six young men who are devoted to Brahman, who are greatly attached to  Brahman and who are in search of the Supreme Brahman. They are yearning for  Brahman and approached the venerable teacher Pippalada. The historicity or geographical  location of the names of the people and places are not material; what are  important are the teachings.

These students already knew about  Saguna Brahman or Brahman with qualities (Apara Brahman). Now they want to know  about Supreme Brahman, Brahman without qualities (Para Brahman). According to  then existing tradition they carried firewood in their hands and went to the  teacher Pippalada who is described as Bhagavan because of his very high good  qualities. An offering of firewood to a teacher is a symbol of respect,  humility and keenness to learn on the part of a student.

The need of faith, austerity and chastity of body and mind for  spiritual knowledge is emphasized.

Mantra 2

tan.h ha sa rishhiruvacha bhuuya eva tapasaa brahmacharyena shraddhayaa sa.nvatsaram sa.nvatsyatha yathaakaamam prashnaan.h prichchhata yadi vijnaasyaamah sarvam ha vo vakshyaama iti || 2||

The sage told them: Stay with me for a whole year, practicing  austerities, continence and faith. Then ask me whatever questions you like. If  I know them, assuredly, I shall tell everything to you.

The gift of Self-Knowledge is the  highest. It is supreme. Pippalada wanted to see the students better qualified  to receive it. Hence he suggested that they stay there practicing austerities,  self-control and showing due respect and reverence to the teacher and  scriptures which is termed faith here. These are the qualities essentially  needed in spiritual life. The purpose of this mantra is to show that the  teacher must be endowed with humility and knowledge while the pupil should have  faith and self-control.

Kabandhi returns after a year and  asks the first question.

Mantra 3

atha kabandhii katyaayana upetya paprachchha | bhagavan.h kuto ha vaa imaah prajaah prajaayanta  iti || 3||

Then Kabandhi, the son of Katya, came to Pippalada and asked, Sir, where  do all these beings come from?

It may be noted that the students  wanted to learn about the Supreme Reality, Para Brahman but started with a  question on jivas or beings, the  phenomenal world of existence. This is because they are already aware of Saguna Brahman (Brahman with attributes  or apara vidya) but knew nothing  about Nirguna Brahman (Brahman  without attributes or para vidya). In  other words they know about the Supreme Being in its manifest reality in the  forms of jiva and jagat and not in its Unmanifest  Absoluteness, Jagadishvara. With the  teacher’s guidance step by step the students will realize the unreality of this  phenomenal world and find out that the Para Brahman alone is real.


Mantra 4

tasmai sa hovaacha prajaakaamo vai prajaapatih sa tapo.atapyata sa tapastaptvaa sa mithunamutpaadayate |  rayim cha pranam chetyetau me bahudhaa prajaah karishhyata iti || 4||

To him the teacher said:  Prajapati, the Creator, was desirous of progeny. With this in view, he  performed austerities and having performed austerities, created the pair, the Matter (Rayi) and the Energy (Prana) thinking that together they  would produce creatures in many ways.

The word Prajapati means the Lord  or Father of all that exists. He is not the Supreme Being. It is just like a  designation in an organization, a post to which someone is promoted.  Prajapati is also called Hiranyagarbha or  Brahma (not to be confused with Brahman).

According to Vedanta, everything,  including Prajapati comes from Brahman or projected from Brahman. Brahman does  not create anything because he is nirguna and nirakara, without qualities and  without form. So Prajapati is one step down the line.

Vedanta says that this universe  is a manifestation, a projection. It is not a creation like a potter making a  pot. This universe is projected from Prajapati and again it is withdrawn back  unto him. Prajapati just contemplates and from that contemplation a pair, the  moon, the Matter (Rayi) and the sun,  the Energy (Prana) are projected from  himself.

Prajapati or Hiranyagarbha, the  cosmic mind, first created out of himself the moon (Rayi, Matter) and the sun (Prana,  Energy) which produce in turn all the varieties of the universe.

What Pippalada means is that ‘The  Lord of beings meditated and produced Prana, the primal energy, and Rayi, the  giver of form, desiring that they, male and female, should in manifold ways  produce creatures for him’.

The first thing that occurred was  the manifestation of Prana and Rayi - energy and matter that manifest as form.  There are many levels of manifestation, and Pippalada is only speaking of the  lower worlds which are manifested by Brahman.

Prana and Rayi are the two poles  of manifesting energy - positive and negative, male and female. This duality is  at the heart of all that presently exists, and without it everything dissolves.  Prana and Rayi are the “parents” of all things. Creation is their perpetual  interaction. All “creatures” - all that exist in relativity - have sprung from  Prana and Rayi.

The relationship between matter  and energy is that of a musical instrument and music. Without the instrument  the music is impossible but the instrument as such is nothing but a heap of  wooden and steel materials. Similarly matter is the equipment and energy is the  music that can be produced out of it. The Cosmic Mind felt that these two would  multiply among themselves into many and thus the whole creation is  thought-projection of the Cosmic Mind.

The teacher says that Prajapati  created a duality which is also the source of maintenance of the continuity of  created things. Man too creates his world with thought and maintains it with  duality. Pippalada says that Prajapati created a duality of Matter and Life (Energy),  of Rayi and Prana. The creation moves and maintains its continuity by an  interaction of these dual principles.

Receive Site Updates