Synthesis of Yoga in The Upanishads - Notes and References

Notes and References

Notes and References

1 Vide., Grant Alien, Evolution of the Idea of God, New York 1897; Breasted, Jas H., Ancient Times, Boston, 1916; Jean Capart, Thebes, London, 1926; Miles Dawson, Ethics of Confucious, New York 1915; G. Maspero, The Dawn of Civilization: Egypt and Chaldea,, London, 1897; S. Reinach, Orpheus: A History of Religions, New York,1909 and 1930; Lynn Thorndike, ,Short History of Civilization, New York, 1926.

2Homer, Iliad, translation by W. C. Bryant, Boston, I898' Homer, Odyssey, text and translation by A. T. Murray, Loeb Library.

3 Murray, G., Five stages of Greek Religion, Oxford, I930.

4Harrison, G. E., Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, Cambridge, 1922.

5 Vide., Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, Rutledge, London,1996, p. 43.

6There appears to be a long period intervening between the Vedic Samhitas and the Upanishads. Numerous branches of the Vedic Samhitas developed in this period. Each of the recensions of the Vedas had a separate Brahamana. These Brahamana contained detailed analysis of various categories of sacrifices, their rituals and procedures . We also find in these Brahamanas, legends, anecdotes and narration of stories. They are looked upon as expositions of various aspects of the Vedas. The Brahamana literature seems to have been very vast, but a number of Brahamanas have been lost. According to many ancient scholars, the Vedic Samhitas and Brahamanas together constitute the Veda, although the Vedic Samhitas have ultimate authority of validity. In Nineteenth century, Dayananda Saraswati, expressed the view that the Brahamanas cannot be regarded as a part of the Veda. There is, however, no dispute about the fact that Brahamana are looked upon as elucidation or interpretation of the Veda, and this itself implies the superiority of the Vedic Samhitas as

Notes and References

Notes and References

far as the question of authenticity is concerned. The Brahamanas aimed at conservation of the forms and they laboured to fix and preserve the minutiae of the Vedic ceremony, the conditions of their material effectuality, the symbolic sense and purpose of their different parts, movements, implements, the significance of texts important in the ritual, the drift of obscure illusions, the memory of ancient myths and traditions. According to Sri Aurobindo, Brahamanas provide interesting hints, but it cannot be said that they are a safe guide to the meaning of separate texts when they attempt an exact verbal interpretation. It is true that the Brahamanas do contain philosophical passages, the method which they followed was connected with the conservation of forms; this method was quite different from the method followed by the Rishis of the Upanishads, who sought to recover the knowledge contained in the Veda by means of mediation and spiritual experience. Between the Brahamanas and the Upanishads there is a vast literature of Aryanakas. The main subject dealt with in the Aryanakas is the esoteric meaning of sacrifices, their rituals as also their inner meaning of the conduct related to the system of the four varnas or four types of human beings constituting the society and four ashramas or four stages of human life. The most important Aryanaka is the Aitareya Aryanaka of the Rigveda. As a matter of fact each Veda has and each recension of Veda has an Aryanaka. The tendency in the Aryanaka to discover inner meanings seems to be responsible for the development of a vaster tendency that is found in the Upanishads to bring out the secret knowledge contained in the Veda, and this tendency gave rise to the development of a new synthesis of yoga that we find in the Upanishads. Among the important Upanishads are Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Māndukya, Taittiriya, Chhāndogya, Aitareya and Brihadāranyaka Upanishad. Shankarācharya has given prominence to five other Upanishads also in his Commentaries, namely, Swetāśvatara, Mahānārāyana, Maitrāyāni, Kaushitakī and Nrisimhatāpinī. In the Muktopanishad, it is mentioned that the total number of Upanishads are one hundred and eight.

In spite of the fact that the Upanishads are not as remote as the Veda in respect of language and symbolism, they are extremely difficult to understand and interpret. It has been suggested that Upanishad should be looked upon as vehicles of illumination and not of instruction, since they were composed for seekers who already had a general

Notes and References

Notes and References

familiarity with the ideas of the Vedic and Vedantic seers and even some personal experience of the truths on which they were founded. This is why they dispense in their style with expressed transitions of thought and the development of implied or subordinate notions. Very often one single word or sentence reposes on a number of ideas implicit in the text but nowhere set forth explicitly. The reasoning that supports conclusions is often suggested by words but not expressly conveyed to the intelligence. As a result, Upanishads demand a good deal of patience, quietude and concentration, if we are to understand them properly. Even then it is difficult to penetrate into the inner meaning of the Upanishads. As a result, there have been sharp differences of opinion among numerous commentators, who during the middle ages of Indian history, interpreted in different ways. There are at least five major schools of Upanishadic interpretation. These are: Advaitavāda or Monism of Shankarācharya, Vīshishtādvaitavada, or Qualified Monism of Rāmānujāchārya, Vishuddhādvaitavada or Pure Monism of Vallabhāchārya, Dvaitādvaitavāda or Dualism-non-dualism of Nimbārkāchārya, and Dvaitavāda or Dualism of Madhawachārya. The commentaries of the Acharyas have been further commented upon by their disciples, and there have been commentaries on commentaries. Bhagavad Gita is also considered to be an organized exposition of the essence of the Upanishadic teaching; but Bhagavad Gita has also been interpreted differently by different Acharyas, and there have been a number of commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita. The commentary literature on the Upanishads, Brahmasutra, and Bhagavad Gita is continuing to develop even in our own times.

The Upanishadic literature tended to subordinate more and more completely the outward ritual, the material utility of the mantra and the sacrifice to a more purely spiritual aim and intention. Upanishads, as a result, came to develop a new synthesis of yoga, which was different in many respects from the synthesis of yoga of the Veda in which there was a balance and synthesis between the external and the internal, between the material and the spiritual life. In due course of time, the Upanishads and thereafter Buddhism which grew in later time, the sacrifice and symbolic ritual became more and more a useless survival and even an encumbrance. A sharp practical division came into being, effective though never entirely recognized in theory, between Veda and Vedanta, so that the Veda came to belong to the priests and the Vedanta came to be meant for the sages. It may also be

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Notes and References

mentioned that with the growth of the Upanishads, rendered obsolete the utility not only of the Vedic ritual but also of the Vedic text. Upanishads were increasingly clear and direct in their language, and they came to be regarded as the fountainhead of the highest Indian thought, although the Vedic texts are even now recognized as authorities. As a whole, however, there grew a belief that Upanishads constitute the Book of Knowledge, jnanakanda, and the Veda came to be regarded rather as the Book of Works, karmakanda.

7 Aditi is considered, in the Veda, the original creatrix of the Universe, since she is the creative power of the supreme Divine who is the ultimate source and originator of the universe. In the Vedic yoga, Aditi has been regarded as the Divine Mother, and throughout the history of Indian culture, Aditi has retained that original character. In the Gita, we do not find the reference to the word Aditi but we have equivalent term, namely, Para Prakriti. In later developments, Aditi has also come to be known as Shakti, Mahashakti, Parashakti and as Parameshwari. In Sri Aurobindo's book. The Mother, four aspects of Aditi have been described, namely, those of Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.

8 The word intuition is often used in religions and philosophical literature so as to include in its connotation all the levels of consciousness that transcend mental consciousness. In a more precise connotation, it can be limited to immediate grasp of the truth by a spark that flashes out when the subject and the object of knowledge happen to get identified with each other. But apart from this essential character, which suggests a luminosity of experience in which the object is felt to be possessed and therefore grasped and understood intimately, there are three other powers of intuition, namely, revelation, inspiration and automatic discrimination. Revelation may be regarded as intuition that is accompanied by a significant image that is inwardly seen as an inevitable symbol of the object with which the subject is identified. Inspiration is accompanied by a spontaneous possession of a word that describes accurately and inevitably the object with which the subject is identified. Revelation is, therefore, also described as truth-sight, drsti, and inspiration is described as truth-hearing or śruti. The other power of intuition consists of spontaneous and immediate discrimination between an idea and an idea, between a truth and another truth, between truth and error. This discrimination

Notes and References

Notes and References

is not ratiocinative, — not even quick ratiocinative. Intuitive discrimination is immediate in its character, — it directly and spontaneously recognises the relationship between ideas and the distinction between truth and error or falsehood. But apart from these powers of intuition, there are higher levels of knowledge. Sri Aurobindo points out that between the intuition, the highest faculty of knowledge there is an intermediate power of knowledge, which Sri Aurobindo calls overmind. The main distinction between intuition and overmind is that the field of intuition can be limited, and it can be compared to torchlight so that the field of knowledge is focused on the limited field on which the torch is focused, but the field of the overmind is cosmic, so that massive fields of the object are intimately, directly and immediately cognized, as in a search light, Intuitive light is often described as holistic light, in the sense that all that is cognized in the intuitive grasp comes to be known in its fullness, but this fullness is related to a rather limited field on which the torch light of the intuition is focused. In the case of the overmind, on the contrary, the field itself is universal, and cosmic consciousness is automatic in the overmental cognition. But while describing the overmind, Sri Aurobindo uses the word, 'global', so as to distinguish it from a still higher level of consciousness, which Sri Aurobindo describes as comprehensive and integral. Just as an individual sees in a dark night, while seated on the top of a globe darkness all over, but he is not able to see the totality of the globe in its integrality and thus does not perceive that the lower half of the globe is at the same time flooded with sunlight, similarly in the overmental consciousness one does not have integral and comprehensive cognition, which is native to what Sri Aurobindo calls the supermind, According to Sri Aurobindo, supermind is comprehensive and integral; it is whole-consciousness in which totality of the universal object is seen in its entire comprehensiveness also in its total details, The distinction between intuition, overmind and supermind are important, because even though all the three cognize the truth and although in all the three cases, cognition carries with it the sense of fullness, the scope and therefore the nature of the cognition is different. Since the scope of intuition is limited, different intuitions may not be found to be harmonious with each other; hence, there has been in the history of knowledge, conflicts of intuitions, even though these conflicts can be more easily harmonized, and they need not be as rigid as the conflict among mental

Notes and References

Notes and References

opinion or as rigid as mental cognitions of intuitions can be. In the overmind, on account of its cosmicity, the sweep of knowledge is cosmic and global, but since it is still not integral, even overmental views may provide a field of divergence, and even when divergences can be more easily reconciled, final reconciliation can come about only when one ascends to supramental cognition. In the Upanishads. intuition is the main instrument of knowledge, but there is also recognition and affirmation, of the reconciliation by means of supramental consciousness. In the Isha Upanishad, for example, which is a great document of synthesis; presents some riddles on account of intuitions in regard to the distinction between knowledge and ignorance and in regard to birth and non-birth, a higher reconciling supramental cognition is also described. Finally, this Upanishad describes the supramental cognition of the truth, in the verses fifteen and sixteen, where a distinction is made between the face of the Truth and the brilliant golden lid which covers the face of truth. That brilliant golden lid can be considered to be a light of the overmind, which needs to be transcended for beholding the face of Truth in its integrality, and this integrality is indicated by the word 'samooha', which means drawing together all the rays of the light. While reading the Upanishads, if some statements do not appear to be harmonious with other statements, an effort is needed to reach up to the supramental cognition in the light of which the total harmony of knowledge can be found.

9 Udavayam tamasaspari jyotih paśyanta uttaram

devam devatrā sūryam aganma jyotir uttamam RV., 1.50.10.

10 Vide, for instance, RV, V.66.6, Sri Aurobindo comments on this verse as follows:

"Svarājya and sāmrājya, perfect empire within and without, rule of our inner being and mastery of our environment and circumstances, was the ideal of the Vedic sages, attainable only by ascending beyond our mortal mentality to the luminous Truth of our being, the supramental infinities on the spiritual plane of our existence." (Sri Aurobindo, Secret of the Veda, SABCL, Vol. 10, 1971, p.480).

" Vide., Kena Upanishad, IV.6.

12 RV.,VI.8.5.

13 Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Ch. I.

Notes and References

Notes and References

14 Vide., Ibid., Ch. 1.10.

15 Kena Upanishad, 11.1.

16 Ibid., 11.4.

17 Ibid.,IV4.

18 Ibid., IV5.

19 Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmānandavalli, Ch. IX.

20 Kena Upanishad, IV.6.

21 Vide., Katha Upanishad, 1.1.1-29.

22 Ibid., 1.1.20.

23 Ibid., 1.2.1-3.

24 Ibid., 1.2.4-8.

25 Ibid., 1.2.9.

26 Ibid., I.I.28.

27 Ibid., I.2.12.

28 Ibid., 1.2.11.

29 Ibid., 1.2.15.

30 Ibid., II.3.10-16.

31 Kena Upanishad, II.4, 5.

32 Katha Upanishad, 1.3.11,12.

33 Ibid., 1.3.10, 11.

34 Vide., Ibid., II.2.1-2.

35 Ibid., II.2.3-8.

36 Vide., Ibid., 11.1,11.2,11.3.

37 Ibid., I.3.14.

38 Ibid., II.1.1-13.

39 RV. III. I.

40 RV.,V2.

41 Katha Upanishad, II.2.7.

42 Ibid., II. 1.5.

43 Vide., Ibid., 11.1.3-9,11.2.8.

44 Mandukya Upanishad, 3-7.

45 Kaivalya Upanishad, 1.

46 Isha Upanishad, 5.

47 RV., I.170.1.

48 Isha Upanishad, 8.

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Notes and References

49 Ibid, 4,

50 Ibid., 1,

51 Ibid.,6-7

52 Ibid., 7.

53 Mandukya Upanishad, 5.

54 Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Ch. V.

55 RV.,V.62.1

56 Vide, Chhandogya Upanishad, VI. l, 2, 13.

57. RV.,VIIl.6.30

58 RV., I.5o.10 ; Vide. Also, Chhandogya Upanishad, III..l7.

59. Svetasvatara Upanishad,IV.I, 2, 3,

60 Ibid., IV5, 6, 7.

61. Ibid.IV.10

62 Ibid., V,1.

63 Ibid., V.8

64- Ibid., V.12

65 Ibid- Vl. 10.

66 Ibid VI.2l,

67 Ibid., VI.23.

68 Mandaka Upanishad, 1.1,3.9.

69 Ibid,. II, 1.1. 2

70 Ibid., II, 1,10,

71 Ibid- III. 1.1-3,

72 Ibid. III 1,5-7.

73 Isha Upanishad, 1.

74 Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.1.1, 2,

75 Ibid., III. 1.1.2.

76 Ibid, III .6

77 Ibid., 11,4.1.14,

78 Vide., RV., V.2,3.

79 Kena Upanishad, IV.8, 9.

80 Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Vol.12, SABCL, Pondicherry, 1971, pp.226-7.

Notes and References

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