The Kausitaki Upanishad, Chapter Three
The third chapter of the Kausitaki Upanishad contains the dialogue between Indra, the lord of the heavens and Divodasah, a Kshatriya warrior. Indra attained the highest knowledge of Brahman. Hence, he is sinless, eternal and pure. Nothing taints him. The chapter also deals with the superiority of breath (prana) and contains the important Hindu belief that breath (prana) is lifespan (ayuh). It is based upon the assumption that the life of an individual is measured not only by the units of time but also by the number of breaths. Hence, those who breath slowly or those who can suspend their breath can live longer compared to those who do not control or regulate their breath.
The Superiority of Breath
1. pratardano ha vai daivodasih indrasya priyam dhamopa-jagama yuddhena paurusena ca tam hendra uvaca pratardana varam te dadaniti sa hovaca pratardanah tvam eva me vrinisva yam tvam manusyaya hitatamam manyasa iti tam hen-dra uvaca na vai varo' varasmai vrinite tvam eva vrinisvety avaro vai kila meti hovaca pratardanah atho khalva indrah satyad eva neyaya satyam hindrah, tam hendra uvaca mam eva vijanathy etad evaham manusyaya hitatamam manye yan mam vijaniyam trisirsanam tvastram ahanam aruanmukhan yatinsa-lavrikebhyah prayaccham bahvih sandha atikramya divi prahl-adiyan atrinam aham antarikse pauloman prithivyam kalak-anjn tasya kena tatra na loma canamiyate; sa yo mam veda na ha vai tasya kena cana karmanad loko miyate na steyena na bhruna hatyaya na matrvadena na pitrivadhena na nasya pap-am cakriso mukhan nilam vettiti.
1. It is said that Prataradana son of Divodasa, verily arrived at the be-loved abode of Indra by waging wars and by his valor. To him Indra said, "Pratardana, ask me for any boon." Pratardana said, "You choose me a boon yourself. which you consider is in the best interests of a hu-man being." Indra said, ""No one who chooses actually chooses for another. Choose yourself." Pratardana said, "Then that boon I have to choose would be no boon for me." Now, Indra did not want to swerve from truth, for Indra is truth himself. Indra said to him, "Know me. That alone, I consider is the most beneficial for a human being, which is in knowing me." I slew the three headed son of Tvastri. I delivered the Arunmukhas, and the ascetics (yatis) to the wolves. I broke many agreements and slew the people of Prahlada in the heaven, the people of Paulomas in the mid-region, and the Kalakanjas on earth. Not even a single hair on my body of mine was harmed then. Therefore, he who knows me thus, his world is harmed by no deed of his, not by stealing, not by the destruction of a fetus in the womb, not by the killing of his mother, not by the killing of his father. If he commits a sin, blue color does not depart from his face.
Notes Pratardana reached the heaven by dying in the battlefield. He died a warrior's death. Hence, he reached heaven. Upon being asked to seek a boon, he did not ask for it because, proud as he was, he thought any boon he might ask would not be good enough for him. Indra told him that he should try to know him, so that he would become liberated. In this verse, Indra is depicted not as the lord of heaven only, but as Brahman Himself. A liberated person is no more tainted by his actions, even if they are mortal sins. Indra meant it when he said that he who knew him would not suffer from the sins of his actions. He also said that the blue or dark color would not go away from his face if he committed a sin. What it means is that since a knower of Indra is forever free from sin, his face would not turn pale with fear or guilt of committing a sin.
2. sa hovaca prano'asmi prajnatma tam mam ayur amritam ity upasva ayuh pranah prano va ayuh prana yavadd hy asmin sarire prano vasati tavad ayuh pranena hy evamusmin loke'amritatvam apnoti prajnaya satyam samkalpam sa yo ma ayur amritam ity upaste sarvam ayur asmin loka ety apnoty amritatvam aksitim svarge loke tadd haika ahur ekabhuyam vai prana gacchantiti na hi kascana saknuyat sakrid vaca nama prajnapayitum caksusa rupam srotrena sabdam manasa dhyanam ity ekabhuyam vai prana bhutvaaikaikam etani sarvany prajnapayantiti vacam vadantim sarve prana anuvadanti caksuh pasyat sarve prana anupasyanti srotram srnvat sarve prana anusrinvanti mano dhyayat sarve prana anudhyayanti pranam pranantam sarve prana anupranantity evam u haitad iti hendra uvacasti tv eva prananam nihsreyasm iti.
2. He said, "I am breath (prana). Meditate upon me as the intelligent self, as lifespan, as immortality itself. Lifespan is breath, breath is lifespan. As long as breath dwells in the body, so long is the span of life. By breath only does one obtains immortality in the other world, and by intelligence truth and will. He who worships me as lifespan and immortality, reaches his full span of life in this world and obtains in the heavenly world (svarga) immortality and imperishability. Now, in this regard some say that the breaths (sense organs) become one, (because otherwise) no one would be able to discern instantly name, form sound and thought by speech, by the eye, by the ear and by the mind. These breaths, by becoming one only, enable us to discern all this one by one. When speech speaks, all the breaths speak after it. When the eye sees, all the breaths see after it. When the ear hears, all the breaths hear after it. When the mind thinks, all the breaths think after it. When the breath breathes, all the breaths breathe after it. Thus it is so, indeed," said Indra. "There is however a greater good among the breaths."
Notes Ayuh means the lifespan. A person's lifespan is very much dependent upon the breath in the body. A person lives as long as he breathes. That is the purport of Indra's teaching. A person has consciousness or awareness (prajna) as long as he is alive and breathing. And when he has intelligence, only then he can discern truth and exercise his will. Thus these four, breath, intelligence, truth and will are interconnected. Therefore, breath is very much central to our existence. Breath is used in this verse with two different meanings. The first one refers to prana or the life breath that we inhale and exhale. We have seen elsewhere that this prana is of five kinds, such as prana, apana, vyana etc. We have also seen before that this breath is superior to the rest of the deities present in the body because without it none of the organs will function. Now, Prana in plural means the organs in the body, such as the eye, the ear, the nose etc. They are also called breaths because at the time of death, the deities hidden in the organs resort to the departing breath and return to their abode. The latter part of the verse suggests that these breaths or sense organs act in unison, as if they are one. Because of it, we are able to process all the sensations, such as hearing, seeing, listening simultaneously and perceives names and forms instantly.
3. jivati vagapeto mukan vipasyamo jivati caksur apeto'ndhan hi pasyamah jivati srotrapeto badhiran hi pasyamah jivati mano'peto balan hi pasyama jivati bahucchinno jivaty urucchinna ity evam hi pasyamah, ity atha khalu prana eva prajnat medam sariram parigrihyotyapayati tasmad etam evoktham upasiteti saisa prane sarvaptir yo vai pranah sa prajna ya va prajna sa pranah tasyaisaiva dristir etad vijnanam yatraitat purusah suptah svapnam na kajncana pasyaty athasmin prana evaikadha bhavati tad enam vak sarvai namabhi sahapyeti caksuh savaihrupaihsahapyeti, srotram sarvai sabdah sahapyet manah sarvaih dhyanaih sahapyeti sa yada pratibudhyate yathagnerjvalato sarva diso visphulinga vipratistherann evam evaitasmad atmanah prana yathaya-tanam vipratisthante pranebhyo deva devebhyo lokah sa esa prana eva prajnatmedam sariram parigrhyotthapayati tasmad etat evoktham upasiteti saisa prane sarvaptih, yo vai pranah sa prajna ya va prajna sa pranah tasyaisaiva siddhire etad vijnanam yatraitat purusa arto marisyannabalyam etya sammoham eti tam ahur udakramit cittam na srinoti na pasyati vaca vadaty na dhyayati athasmin prana evaikadha bhavati tad enam vak sarvaih namabhih sahapyeti caksuh sarvaih rupaih sahapyeti srotram sarvaih sabdaih sahapyeti manah sarvaih dhyanaih sahapyeti sa yadasmac charirad utkramati sahaivai-taih savaih utkramati.
3. One lives even without speech. We see the dumb. One lives without sight. We see the blind. One lives without hearing. We see the deaf. One lives without the mind. We see the infants. One lives without the arms. One lives without the legs. This indeed we all see. Now, this breath alone is the intelligence Self that takes hold of this body and make it rise up. Therefore, it is said that it should be worshipped as Uktha only. This one is the all pervading. That which is breath that is intelligence; and that which is intelligence that is breath. This is the view and this is the understanding regarding it. when a person is asleep, does not see any dreams, he becomes one with breath alone. Then speech with all the names goes to him, the eye with all the forms goes to him, the ear with all the sounds goes to him, the mind with all the thoughts goes to him. When he wakes up, just as the sparks fly in all directions from a burning fire, thus breaths proceed from that self to their respective abodes, gods from the breaths and worlds from the gods. Now, this breath alone is the intelligence Self that takes hold of this body and make it rise up. Therefore, it is said that it should be worshipped as Uktha only. This one is the all pervading. That which is breath that is intelligence; and that which is intelligence that is breath. This is the proof and this is the understanding regarding it. When a person is sick, about to die, has become weak and fallen unconscious, they speak of him, "His consciousness has departed, he does not hear, does not see, does not speak with the speech, and does not think." He becomes one with the breath only. Then speech with all names goes to him. The eye with all forms goes to him. The ear, with all sounds goes to him. The mind with all the thoughts goes to him. And when he departs from the body, he departs along with all these.
Notes: This verse declares that prana is indeed prajna (yo vai pranah sa prajna). From a scientific perspective this may sound odd, because how can the breath be intelligence? Are not they different? Yes, they are in the gross manifestation, but not so in the subtle world. There are two reasons for this correlation. Firstly, so long as there is breath, there is life and intelligence. When a person dies, intelligence also departs. This obviously suggests a hidden connection. Secondly, the same subtle energy that is present in the breath is also present in the intelligence. Hence, you have body awareness, which is an aspect of intelligence only. The difference between the two is the energy present in the breath is generic because breath has to circulate that subtle energy, which some call astral energy, to all parts of the body; whereas the energy present in the intelligence is suffused with knowing (jna). Hence prajna is that breath (prana) in which knowing (jna) is present. Hence prajna is pra(jn)a.
4. vag evasmin sarvani namany abhivisrijyante vaca sarvani namany apnoti, prana evasmin sarve gandha abhivisrijyante pranena sarvangandhanapnoti caksur evasmin sarvani rupany abhivisrijyante caksusa sarvani rupany apnoti srotram evas-min sarve sabda abhivisrijyante, srotrena savan sabdan apnoti, mana evasmin savani dhyanany abhivisarjyante, manah sarvani dhyanany apnoti, saha hy etavasmin sarire vasatah sahotk-ramatah atha yuthasyai prajnayai sarvani bhutany ekam bha-vanti, tad vyakhyasyamah.
4. To him speech sends forth all names so that by speech he obtains all names. To him breath sends forth all smells so that by breath he obtains all smells. To him the eye sends forth all forms, so that by the eye he obtains all forms. To him the ear sends forth all sounds so that by the ear he obtains all sounds. To him the mind sends forth all thoughts so that by the mind, he obtains all thoughts. Together, indeed, they dwell in the body and together they depart. Now, how in intelligence all the beings become one, that we explain.
Notes The departing soul obtains the knowledge of names, forms etc., from the sense organs so that he can make use of them in the next world even without the senses. This verse does not explicitly state who are the two who dwell in the body together and depart. From the previous verses, we can deduced that they are breath and intelligence. In some versions, we do find a clear reference to intelligence in the verse itself.
5. vag evasya ekam angam ududham tasyai nama parastat prativihita bhutamatra prana evasya ekam angam ududham tasya gandhah parastat prativihita bhutamatra caksur evasya ekam angam ududham tasya rupam parastat prativihita bhutamatra srotram evasya ekam angam ududham tasya sabdah parastat prativihita bhutamatra jihvaivasya ekam angam ududham tasy annarasah parastat prativihita bhutamatra hastav evasya ekam angam ududham tayoh karma parastat prativihita bhutamatra sariram evasya ekam angam ududham tasya sukhaduhkhe par-astat prativihita bhutamatra upastha evasya ekam angam udu-dham tasyanando ratih prajatih parastat prativihita bhutama-tra padav evasya ekam angam ududham tayor ityah parastat prativihita bhutamatra mana evasya ekam angam ududham tasyai dhih kamah parastat prativihita bhutamatra.
5. Speech is one part taken out of it. Name is what is expelled from it as its object and placed in the beings. Breath is one part taken out of it. Smell is what is expelled from it as its object and placed in the beings. The eye is one part taken out of it. The form is what is expelled from it as its object and placed in the beings. The ear is one part taken out of it. The sound is what is expelled from it as its object and placed inside the creature. The tongue is one part taken out of it. The taste for food is what is expelled from it as its object and placed inside the beings. The hands are one part take out of it. Duty is what is expelled from it as its object it and placed in the beings. The body is one part taken out of it. The pleasure and pain is what is expelled from it as its object and placed in the beings. The sexual organ is one part taken out of it. Sexual pleasure along with procreation is what is expelled from it as its object and placed in the beings. The two feet are one part taken out of it. Movement is what is expelled from it as its object and placed in the beings. The mind is one part taken out of it. The thoughts and desire is what is expelled from it as its object and placed inside the beings.
Notes: The verse explains how sense-objects were separated from senses, which are but aspects of the same intelligence, and placed outside of them. Thus names, forms, sounds, smells, tastes and thoughts were separated and placed outside in the world of beings and objects (bhutamatra)
6. prajnaya vacam samaruhya vaca sarvani namanyapnoti prajnaya pranam samaruhya pranena sarvan gandhan apnoti praj-naya caksuh samaruhya sarvani rupany apnoti prajnaya srot-ram samaruhya srotrena sarvan sabdan apnoti prajnaya jihvam samaruhya jihvaya sarvan annarasan apnoti prajnaya hastau samaruhya hastabhyam sarvani karmany apnoti prajnaya sarir-am samaruhya sarirena sukhaduhkhe apnoti prajnayopastham samaruhyopasthenanandam ratim prajatim apnoti prajnaya padau samaruhya padabhyam sarva itya apnoti prajnaya ma-nah samaruhya prajnayaiva manasa sarvani dhyanani apnoti.
6. Controlling the speech with intelligence, by speech all names are obtained. Controlling the breath with intelligence, all smells are obtained. Controlling the eye with intelligence, all forms are obtained. Controlling the ear with intelligence, all sounds are obtained. Controlling the tongue with intelligence, all tastes of food are obtained. Controlling the hands with intelligence, all duties are obtained. Controlling the body with intelligence, all pleasures and pains are obtained. Controlling the sexual organ with intelligence, happiness, sexual pleasures and procreation are obtained. Controlling the feet with intelligence, all movements are obtained. Controlling the mind with intelligence, all thoughts are obtained.
Notes: Intelligence is the lord of the organs. Intelligence is again breath only. The objects that have been separated from the deities are obtained by them once again under the control of intelligence. In some texts the last line mentions dhih instead of manas.
7. na hi prajnapeta van nama kimcana prajnapayet anyatra me mano'bhud ity aha naham etan nama prajnasisam iti na hi prajnapetah prano gandham kamcana prajnapayet anyatra me mano'bhud ity aha naham etam gandham prajnasisamiti na hi prajnapetam caksu rupam kamcana prajnapayed anyatra me mano'abhud ity aha naham etad rupam prajnasisam iti na hi prajnapetam srotram sabdam kamcana prajnapayed anyatra me mano'bhud ity aha naham etam sabdam prajnasisam iti na hi prajnapetam jihvannarasam kamcana prajnapayet anyatra me mano'bhud ity aha naham etam annarasam prajnasisam iti na hi prajnapetau hastau karma kimcana prajnapetam anyatra me mano'abhud ity aha naham etat karma prajnasisam iti na hi prajnapetam sariram sukhaduhkham kimcana prajnapayet anyatra me mano'abhud ity aha naham etat sukham na duhk-ham prajnasisam iti na hi prajnapeta upastha anandam na ratim na prajatim kamcana prajnapayet anyatra me mano'bhud ity aha naham etam anandam na ratim prajatim prajnasisam iti na hi prajnapetau padav ityam kamcana prajna payetam anyatra me mano'abhud ity aha naham etam ityam prajna-sisam iti na hi prajnapeta dhih kacana siddhyen na prajna-tavyam prajnayet.
7. For verily, with the departure of intelligence, speech does not make known any names by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that name." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, breath does not make known any smells by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that smell." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, the eye does not make known any forms by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that form." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, the ear does not make known any sound by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that sound." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, the tongue does not make known any taste of food by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that taste of food." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, the hands do not make known any actions by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that action." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, the body does not make known any pleasure or pain by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that pleasure or pain." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, the sexual organ does not make known any happiness, sexual pleasure, and procreation by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that happiness, sexual pleasure and procreation." For verily, with the departure of intelligence, the feet do not make known any movements by other means. "My mind was absent," one says, "I was unable to make sense of that movement." With the departure of intellignece no thought whatsoever is obtained. Nothign is understood that can be understood.
Notes Prajna is the intelligence which gives us the ability to know or make sense of the world. The world that we experience is verily a medley of perceptions made possible by intelligence. Without Prajna we are cut off from the world and its objects. Perceptions will not register in our minds and we will not know what is going on. Since our very knowing and understanding depend upon this single most important aspect of our existence, our understanding of the world, people and objects differ from one another, just as we differ in the way we make use of our intelligence and make sense of the world. If breath is vital for our existence, intelligence is vital for our knowledge and understanding.
8. na vacam vijijnasita vaktaram vidyat na gandham vijijnasita ghrataram vidyat na rupam vijijnasita drastataram vidyat na sabdam vijijnasita srotaram vidyat nannarasam vijijnasi tannarasasasya vijnataram vidyat na karma vijijnasita kartaram vidyat na sukhaduhkhe vijijnasita sukhaduhkhayor vijnataram vidyat nanandam na ratim na prajatim vijijnasitanandasya rateh prajater vijnataram vidyat netyam vijijnasitaitaram vidyat na mano vijijnasita mantaram vidyat tava eta dasaiva bhutamatra adhiprajnam dasa prajnamatra adhibhutam yadd bhutamatra na syur na prajnamatrah syur yad va prajnamatra na syurna na bhutamatrah syuh na hyanyatarato rupam kimcana siddhyen no etan nana tad yatha rathasyaresu nemir arpito nabhav ara arpita evam evaita bhutamatrah prajnamatrasv arpitah prajnamatrah prane arpitah sa esa prana eva prajnatmanando'ajaro'amritah na sadhuna karmana bhuyan bhavati no evasadhuna kaniyan esa hy eva sadhu karma karayati tam yam ebho lokebya unninisata esa u evasadhu karma karayati tam yam adho ninisate, esa lokapala esa lokadhipatih, esa lokesah, sa ma atmeti vidyat sa ma atmeti vidyat.
8. One should not desire to know the speech, one should know the speaker beyond that speech. One should not desire to know the smell, one should know the grasper of that smell beyond that. One should not desire to know the form, one should know the seer beyond that. One should not desire to know the sound, one should know the grasper of that sound beyond that. One should not desire to know the taste of food, one should know the taster of the food beyond that. One should not desire to know the action, one should know the doer beyond that. One should not desire to know pleasure and pain, one should know the knower of the pleasure and pain beyond that. One should not desire to know happiness, sexual pleasure and procreation, one should know the knower of happiness, sexual pleasure and procreation beyond that. One should not desire to know the movement, one should know the mover beyond that. One should not desire to know the mind, one should know the thinker of the mind beyond that. These are the ten parts of the (objective) material manifestation with regard to (subjective) intelligence and these are the ten parts of the (subjective) manifestation of intelligence with regard to the (objective) material world. Truly, if there are no material manifestations (objects) there will be no manifestations of intelligence (subjects). Similarly, if there are no manifestations of intelligence (subjects), there be no material manifestations (objects). Truly, with one or the other alone no from (or knowing) whatsoever can be experienced and none of this manifold diversity. Just as the rim of a chariot wheel is fixed on the spokes and the spokes on the hub, even so the parts of the material manifestation are fixed on the aspects of intelligence and the aspects of the intelligence are fixed on the breath. This breath, verily, is intelligent self, which is blissful, without aging and immortal. He does not flourish by good actions nor decrease by bad actions. This one, indeed, prompts him to do good actions whom he wants to uplift from this world. This one also, indeed, prompts him to indulge in bad actions whom he want to bring down. He is the protector of the world. He is the ruler of the world. He is the lord of the world. He is, my Self only, thus one should know. He is my Self only, thus one should know.
Notes "One should not desire to know the speech, one should know the speaker beyond that speech," means one should not focus upon the perceptions or the objects, but upon the seer (self) who experiences them and who is above or beyond (taram) all the senses. By moving in the objective world with the senses, one gets caught in the materiality, whereas by knowing the Self or the seer one becomes liberated. This is the message. There are three aspects to our knowing, namely the knower, which is the subject, the knowing, and the known, which is the object. In a state of duality, there can be no knowing when either of the subject or the object are missing. This is what is meant by the statement that there is no material manifestation (known) without intelligence (knower) and vice versa. The self is not described here as something other than what one is in relation to the empirical world. He is the knower, the experiencer, the perceiver, the seer, or the subjective element in the objective world. He is ageless, but in the body he is subject to the modifications of the mind and body. Upon the death of the body, depending upon his deeds, that is whether he caused the good deeds to happen or the bad deeds, he goes to different worlds.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- The Samkhya Philosophy and 24 Principles of Creation
- The Bhagavadgita On The Problem Of Sorrow
- The Concept of Atman or Eternal Soul in Hinduism
- The Practice of Atma Yoga Or The Yoga Of Self
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- Belief In Atman, The Eternal Soul Or The Inner Self
- Brahman, The Highest God Of Hinduism
- The Bhagavad Gita Original Translations
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- Bhakti yoga or the Yoga of Devotion
- Hinduism And The Evolution of Life And Consciousness
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- The Triple Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
- The Practice of Tantra and Tantric Ritual in Hinduism and Buddhism
- The Tradition Of Gurus and Gurukulas in Hinduism
- Origin, Definition and Introduction to Hinduism
- Hinduism, Way of Life, Beliefs and Practices
- A Summary of the Bhagavadgita
- Avatar, the Reincarnation of God Upon Earth
- The Bhagavadgita on Karma, the Law of Actions
- The Mandukya Upanishad
- The Bhagavadgita On The Mind And Its Control
- Symbolic Significance of Numbers in Hinduism
- The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism
- The True Meaning Of Renunciation According To Hinduism
- The Symbolic Significance of Puja Or Worship In Hinduism
- Introduction to the Upanishads of Hinduism
- Origin, Principles, Practice and Types of Yoga
- Hinduism and the Belief in one God
Attribution: Reproduced with permission from the Selected Upanishads, A Collection of 14 Upanishads with Devanagari Script, Translation and Notes, Editor and Translation: Jayaram V, Published by PurelifeVision Books, USA, 2013.
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