Taittiriya Upanishad- Petal 6



annadvai prajah prajayante . yah kashcha prithivi{\m+}
shritah .
atho annenaiva jivanti . athainadapi yantyantatah .
anna{\m+} hi bhutanam jyeshtham.h . tasmat.h sarvaushadhamuchyate .
sarvam vai te.annamapnuvanti . ye.annam brahmopasate .
anna{\m+} hi bhutanam jyeshtham.h . tasmat.h sarvaushadhamuchyate .
annad.h bhutani jayante . jatanyannena vardhante .
adyate.atti cha bhutani . tasmadannam taduchyata iti .

tasmadva etasmadannarasamayat.h . anyo.antara atma pranamayah .
tenaisha purnah . sa va esha purushavidha eva .
tasya purushavidhatam.h . anvayam purushavidhah .
tasya prana eva shirah . vyano daxinah paxah .
apana uttarah paxah . akasha atma .
prithivi puchcham pratishtha . tadapyesha shloko bhavati .. 1..

“From food, verily, are produced all creatures—whatsoever dwell on earth. By food alone, furthermore, do they live and to food, in the end, do they return; for food alone is the eldest of all beings and therefore, it is called the panacea for all.”

“They who worship food as Brahman obtain all food. Food alone is the eldest of all beings and therefore it is called the panacea for all. From food all creatures are born: by food, when born, they grow. Because it is eaten by beings and because it eats beings, therefore it is called food.”

Verily, different from this, which consists of the essence of food, but within it, is another self, which consists of the vital breath. By this the former is filled. This too has the shape of a man. Like the human shape of the former is the human shape of the latter. Prana, indeed, is its head; vyana is its right wing; apana is its left wing; akasa is its trunk; the earth is its tail, its support. On the above there is also the following mantra.

All the living beings of this world are the products of food, sustained in food and in the end dissolve in food. This is the cycle. For this reason food is called jyeshtam, the first cause of  all the living beings. Food is also called sarvausadham, a panacea for all ills of the beings like hunger and thirst and which gives relief. If a person worships this food as Brahman i.e. as the origin, support and the end of all living beings, he gets all what he wants. According to Sankara each sheath over the Indweller is Brahman but not the Supreme Brahman. They are just starting points in pursuit of the Supreme Brahman. We start with the gross body and slowly we have to transcend it, from the gross to the finer, till we reach the Supreme Self. 

The body is called annarasa, the essence of food, because it is the personification of what we eat which gets transformed into muscles, bone, blood etc. The annamaya kosa is also called the sthula sarira, the gross body. Within this gross body is the sukshma sarira, the subtle body. The subtle body consists of several layers. The first of these is pranamaya kosa, the sheath of vital breath. The next is the manomaya kosa, the sheath of the mind, and the last is vijnanamaya kosa, the sheath of intellect. They proceed from the gross to the subtle. Then beyond this subtle body and finer is the anandamaya kosa, the sheath of bliss and beyond this is the Self or Supreme Brahman.

These sheaths are different layers of our personality. When we are at the gross level we are happy with material things; when we are at the mental level we become thoughtful and imaginative; when we are at the intellectual level we enjoy intellectual pursuits. For all these we need some external support. But when we are in the level of bliss, there is nothing but bliss and there is nothing that supports that bliss. We are completely absorbed within ourselves. We are not aware that we have a body or mind or intellect.

After talking about the food sheath, the Upanishad now starts discussing about the sheath of vital breath, pranamaya kosa. It says it is inside and separate from this gross body. The Upanishad calls it atma. It is like the individual self or soul of the gross body. The prana is not just one part of the body; it fills everywhere in all parts of the body.  Though this prana is all over the body, it has five different functions viz prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana. The  Upanishad compares these five functions to the different parts of a bird. These are given below in a tabular form.







Inhaling, going upwards

Head of the bird



Exhaling, goes through left nostril

Left wing of the bird



Pervades the whole body

Right wing of the bird



Supports and gives the body balance

Tail of the bird



Helps digestion of food

Trunk of the bird

Sankara says that the idea behind introducing the concept of sheaths is that the Self within us is like a grain of rice. Just as we have to remove the husk to get to the grain of rice, we have first to remove the different coverings of our personality before we can reach the Self which is the inmost.

iti dvitiyo.anuvakah ..

End of Section 2 - Chapter 2

We shall take up Section 3 - Chapter 2 next time.


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