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


Mantra 9
sa.nvatsaro vai prajaapatistasyaayane dakshinam chottaram cha | tadye ha vai tadishhtaapuurte kritamityupaasate te chaandramasameva lokamabhijayante | ta eva punaraavartante tasmaadeta rishhayah prajaakaamaa dakshinam pratipadyante |  eshha ha vai rayiryah pitriyaanah || 9||

The year is indeed Prajapati  and there arc two paths thereof: the Southern and the Northern. Those who follow  the path of Karma alone by the performance of sacrificial and pious acts obtain  only the World of the Moon and certainly they do return. Therefore those sages who  desire offspring travel by the Southern Path. The matter (Rayi) is verily the  path of the Forefathers.

Mantra 10
athottarena tapasaa brahmacharyena shraddhayaa vidyayaa.a. atmaanamanvishhyaadityamabhijayante| etadvai praanaanaamaa yatanametad amritamabhayametat.h paraayanametasmaanna punaraavartanta ityeshha nirodhastadeshha shlokah || 10||

But those who seek the Self  through austerity, chastity, faith and knowledge, travel by the Northern Path  and gain the Sun. The Sun, verily, is the goal of all living creatures, the Immortal,  the Fearless; this is the final goal. From there they do not return, for, this  is the end. For this there is a mantra.

The concepts of space and time were always an enigma to the fiction  writers, scientists, philosophers and sages since long. In the Bhagavad Gita Bhagavan  Sri Krishna says that He is “kaalah  kalayataamaham” (10.30); He is Time - Time is an Eternal Factor which is  divided into past, present and future by the play of mind and intellect. The  Lord is thus an Infinite Substratum supporting the finite multiplicity.

In the modern period research on the planet sun and time is being carried  on by several scientists and it is brought within the understanding of the  common people like the work “A Briefer History of Time” by Stephen Hawking and  Leonard Mlodinow. H.G.Wells, the famous author of the science fiction novel  “The Time Machine” published in 1895 which was later adopted for feature films  and television versions introduced the idea of time being the "fourth  dimension", the other three being length, breadth and thickness of  objects.

We have seen in the previous mantras the glorification of the sun. Now  the importance of the Time which is measured with reference to the Sun is  emphasized by calling it Prajapati itself. The teacher says that Creation is  synonymous with time, for time is the field in which creation can operate. Time  is essentially a movement in duality, a movement from one to the other. Where there  is no duality, there time too is not. A movement between two points of duality  is indeed the stream of time. And so when the creator created duality, He  thereby brought into existence the movement of Time. Hence this mantra says the  Lord of Creation (Prajapati) is indeed the time of the year, a unit of time  taken by the earth to go round the sun once.

All these imply that duality is the very basis of creation which exists  in everything in the universe even in the flow of Time. For example a year has  the duality of sun moving in northern and southern hemispheres; a year also has  the duality of solar and lunar months; a month has the duality of bright and  dark fortnights; a day of the week has the duality of day and night.

Prajapati manifests Himslef as the pair, the sun and the moon and the  pair constitutes the year. Therefore, the year or Time is none other than  Prajapati, as according to Vedanta the cause is non-different from the effect.

The duality of a year is equated with two types of life-styles viz., one  devoted to legitimate pursuit of material pleasures and the other to spiritual  pursuits.  The former is said to perform  two types of work – ishta and purti. Ishta refers to the daily obligatory duties and purti refers to the special services  done for public welfare such as digging of wells, construction of dharmashalas etc. The Upanishad says that  these people go to the world of ancestors (Pitrayana,  the Southern path), symbolized by moon and then to rebirth. The latter type of  people goes to a state of liberation, symbolized by sun (Devayana, the Northern path). The former is equated with matter and  the latter with life.

This is also discussed in the Bhagavad Gita 8.24 & 25.

Special emphasis is laid on the discipline, Brahmacharya, chastity of the  body and the mind for the higher spiritual perceptions. The thrust of these two  mantras is to point out that the year indeed is Prajapati and as such the sun  aspect and the moon aspect in the year are shown as the two paths which in time  everybody has to pass through after death. This is supported by a Vedic mantra  as under.


Mantra 11
pajnchapaadam pitaram dvaadashaakritim
    diva aahuh pare ardhe puriishhinam.h |
atheme anya u pare vichakshanam
    saptachakre shhadara aahurarpitamiti || 11||

Some call Him the father with  five feet and with twelve forms, the giver of rain and the dweller in the  region above the sky. Others, again, say that the Sun is omniscient; the one  upon whom like a chariot drawn by seven horses running on a wheel with six  spokes, the whole world is founded.

This mantra glorifies the sun as the father of all, the provider of  life-sustaining rains, and the all-knowing support of the universe. It  describes the sun as the Lord of Time, comparing him to a benevolent  five-footed master moving along the top of the world, each foot representing a  season and twelve forms standing for twelve months of the year. Although we  accept six seasons for a year, here Hemanta and Sisira seasons have been  considered together as one.

As a man walks with the help of his feet, the sun by means of the seasons  moves along the orbit. The sun is also compared to a chariot drawn by seven  horses, corresponding to seven colors of light, and moving on the wheel of Time  with six spokes symbolizing six seasons.

The gist of the mantra is that Prajapati manifesting himself as the sun and  the moon, next as Time or the year, further manifests himself as the universe.  This verse occurs in Rig Veda I.clxiv.12.

Mantra 12
maaso vai prajaapatistasya krishhnapaksha eva rayih shuklah pranastasmaadete  rishhayah shukla ishhtam kurvantiitara itarasmin.h || 12||

The month, verily, is Prajapati. Its dark half, verily,  is food, Rayi (matter); its bright half, the eater, Prana (energy). Therefore  some Rishis perform sacrifice in the bright half of the month, but some perform  them in the dark half.

Continuing on the existence of duality in Time, this mantra equates dark  fortnight (krishna paksha) with  Matter or food and bright fortnight (shukla  paksha) with life or eater of the food.

The month is characterized by the bright and dark fortnights of the moon.  The reference to the Sages who perform sacrifices in the bright fortnight  indicates those who see everything to be pervaded by prana. The others who  perform them in the dark fortnight refer to those who do not see prana as the  cause of everything.

Though prana is associated with the bright fortnight of the moon, yet to  the Rishis of superior wisdom, prana pervades the entire month. They see  everything to be bright; to them krishna paksha is as good as the shukla  paksha. Therefore even when they perform sacrifices in the dark fortnight, they  reap the benefit as if it were performed in the bright fortnight.

On the other hand those of lesser wisdom do not see prana in everything; even  though they perform sacrifices in the bright fortnight they do not reap the  corresponding result.

The purpose of this mantra is to praise the knowledge of prana as  pervading the entire month, the month being the symbol of time.

Mantras 13 -16 touch upon some practical aspects of human birth, like  when to make love and how many children to have? Mantra 14 glorifies food by  calling it Prajapati and implies that quality of food eaten by a man influences  the genes in his children. Mantras 15 and 16 commend a code of conduct for married  couples.

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