Taittiriya Upanishad

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Part of a series on the
Upanishads
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Rigveda
Aitareya
Yajurveda
Bṛhadāraṇyaka  · Īṣa
Taittirīya  · Kaṭha
Samaveda
Chāndogya · Kena
Atharvaveda
Muṇḍaka ·Māṇḍūkya ·Praśna
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Shvetashvatara ·Kaushitaki ·Maitrayaniya

The Taittiriya Upanishad is a Sanskrit text. It is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. It is associated with the Taittiriya school of the Yajurveda. It figures as number 7 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. It belongs to the Taittiriya recension of the Yajurveda and is constituted by the seventh, eighth and ninth chapters of Taittiriya Aranyaka. The tenth chapter of the same Aranyaka is the Mahanarayana Upanishad.

The Taittiriya Upanishad describes the various degrees of happiness enjoyed by the different beings in creation.[1]

The text of the Taittriya Upanishad is a compilation of the late Vedic, pre-Buddhist genre. The date of composition is not known but is considered to be circa 6th or 5th century BCE.[2] Shankara's commentary dates from some twelve to thirteen centuries later. Shankara's commentary has influenced much of the subsequent interpretation of the meaning of the Taittiriya Upanishad. It is considered likely that texts such as the Upanishads were composed by groups of pandits and then amended over time. This, however, was not the view of Shankara. For him, as for certain contemporary Brahmins and Hindus, the Taittiriya Upanishad and the Veda as a whole are not human compositions.

The Taittiriya Upanishad and Shankara's commentary are classics of Sanskrit literature. Along with other ancient Upanishad, they have been important sources of religion in India for more than two thousand years. The two texts have been instrumental in the spread of Vedanta. Parts of the Taittiriya Upanishad were translated into European languages as early as the 17th century. Since the end of the 19th century, the Taittirya Upanishad has been translated many times into European and other Indian languages.[3]

The Taittiriya Upanishad is divided into three sections or vallis, the Siksha Valli, the Brahmananda Valli and the Bhrigu Valli. Each Valli further subdivided into anuvakas or verses.

Shiksha Valli[edit]

The Siksha Valli deals with the discipline of Shiksha (which is the first of the six Vedangas or "limbs" or auxiliaries of the Vedas), that is, the study of phonetics and pronunciation.

  1. First Anuvaka of this Valli starts with Shanti Mantra "OM Sham no Mitra ..".
  2. Second Anuvaka lists the contents of Shiksha discipline.
  3. Third Anuvaka tells about the intimate connection between the syllables using five examples and implicitly tells that one should meditate on those examples to realise connections told in them. Each of these examples is called a Maha Samhita. Each Syllable is called a Samhita. There is also a method of reciting Vedic Mantras where each syllable of mantra is recited separately of preceding and next syllables known as "Samhita Patha". This anuvaka also declares that one who realises connection between syllables, will get good fruits including attainment of heaven. One of the examples used under the heading of Self or Adhyaatmaa tries to make point that the connection between syllables is as intimate and innate as speech and elements producing it. "Lower jaw is former form (or first syllable), upper jaw is next form (next syllable), speech is union or connection, tongue is connector"
  4. Fourth Anuvaka consists of Mantras and rituals to be recited/performed by those who aspire for Divine Knowledge (Medha Kama) and Wealth (Shree Kama). In this anuvaka the teacher prays that "As water flows from high land to low land, as months join to become year, let good disciples come to me from everywhere"
  5. Fifth and Sixth Anuvakas try to describe Brahman in the form of Vyahrutis. The words "Bhooh", "Bhuvah", "Suvah", "Mahah", "Janah", "Tapah" and "Satyam" are called seven Vyahruti's or Sapta Vyahrutis. These terms denote different worlds in Puranas. The term "Vyahruti" means pronunciation, since these words are pronounced in Vedic rituals like Agnihotra, these are called Vyahruti's. Fifth Anuvaka states that the fourth Vyahruti "Mahah" was discovered by a Rishi called "Mahachamasya" and "Mahah" is Brahman and all other Vyahrutis are its organs. This Anuvak says that "Bhooh" denotes earth, fire, Richa's and Prana. "Bhuvah" denotes space, air, Sama's and Apana. "Suvah" denotes heaven, sun, Yajus and Vyana. "Mahah" denotes sun, moon, Holy Syllable OM and food. This way, each of first four Vyahrutis become four each and in total they are sixteen. So all these four Vyahrutis should be meditated upon as all of their sixteen manifestations or kala(s), this is known as famous vedic term Shodasha Kala Purusha in vedic literature. Finally this anuvaka says that one who knows all sixteen manifestations or kala(s) of Vyahrutis knows Brahman and all gods bring gifts to him.
  6. Sixth Anuvaka tells that in the space inside the heart there exists an immortal golden being (Hiranmaya Purusha) and states that there is a subtle route through the middle of the head through which a self realized Yogi travels when he/she leaves the body and joins the all pervading Brahman.
  7. The Seventh Anuvaka describes a meditation called Paanktha Upasana, where Brahman is meditated upon as Paanktha (Set of Five).Outer world seen is classified into 3 set of five things called "AdiBootha" and also inner body world into 3 sets of five things called "Adhyaathma". This inner-outer grouping is then meditated upon and meditator realizes both inner and outer paankta are one and the same Brahman and every thing is Paanktha.
  8. Eighth Anuvaka states the greatness of Holy Syllable OM. It says that OM is Brahman and everything.
  9. Ninth Anuvaka explains a pious way of life to be led by persons aspiring realization of Brahman. see a prescription for an ideal life
  10. Tenth Anuvaka is a Mantra for self practice (Swadhyaya) or meditation. It is stated by a Rishi called Trishanku as an exclamation of awe after he realized that he is one with Brahman. It is also called Mantramnaya of Trishanku.
  11. Eleventh Anuvaka is a set of instructions that teacher(Acharya) gives to his disciple after completion of vedic education. The ninth and eleventh Anuvakas collectively define a prescription for an ideal life.
  12. Twelfth Anuvaka concludes the Shikshavalli with Shanti Mantra "OM Sham no mitra.." expressing gratitude toward gods who removed obstacles for study of Upanishad as prayed for in first anuvaka of this Valli.

Brahmananda Valli[edit]

The statement "Brahmavida Apnoti Param" which means "The one who knows Brahman attains supreme state" is the formula (Sutra-Vaakya) to get the high level gist of this Valli. First Anuvak starts with Shanti Mantra "OM sham no mitra" and "Sahana vavatu" pleasing gods and removing obstacles for study of Upanishad being the objective of these Mantras. Second Anuvak starts with formula sentence "Brahmavida Apnoti Param" as stated above and also tries to define Brahman succinctly as "Truth, Omniscient, and Infinite" (Satyam Jnyanam Anantam Brahma).

Anuvaks Second to Fifth describe that Five sheaths subtle bodies or the Pancamaya Koshas (Five Atmans) reside in one another in human body. Starting with grosser, tangible human body called "Annamaya" or "Formed out of Food" to "Pranamaya" or "formed out of Vital life force" to "Manomaya" or "Formed out of Mind" to "Vijnyanamaya" or "One who is of Knowledge" to Final and subtle most being "Anandamaya" or one who is full of Joy.

In Sixth and Seventh Anuvaks, some of the questions asked by a disciple are answered. such as

"Brahman being equal to both knower and ignorant, who gets the Brahman after death, knower or ignorant and why?"

Eighth Anuvak, compares happiness of various evolved beings starting from Man to that of next higher level till Happiness of Brahman itself.

Ninth Anuvak describes that knower of Brahman doesn't repent for not having done any good because for him/her, the terms good and bad loses their meaning and he/she has equalled them with Brahman since it is the only one which is really existing.

Bhṛgu Vallī[edit]

This Vallī describes how son of Varuṇa (The Water God) Bhṛgu obtained realization of Brahman through repeated Tapas under his fathers guidance.

Rest of the part of Vallī describes greatness of donating food, that is feeding the hungry. It also emphasises on greatness of Food. It says that since food is support of all life, food should not be insulted, food should not be declined.

Prescriptions[edit]

The ninth and eleventh anuvakas of Shiksha Valli prescribe a moral or religious way of life which a person aspiring for self-realization or divine knowledge follow. Ninth Anuvak emphasizes heavily on learning, studying and teaching (Swadhyaya and Pravachana) and ordains that this should be done all through the life of an individual. According to this anuvaka, the following are the duties to be performed.

Observing truth always, observing perseverance, controlling indulgence in sensory organs or sensory pleasures(Shama), controlling external flow of mind (Dama), performing mandated vedic rituals like Agnihotra etc., hospitality to guests, facing worldly odds and pleasures with even mind, procreation and begetting children and grand children (family life emphasised). Further this verse says, According to truthful Raathithara, he says, truth must be observed as priority. According to great penance performer Paurushishti, perseverance/penance (Tapas) should be observed. According to Naka the son of Mudgala, studying/learning-teaching of Vedas (Swadhyaya and Pravachana)should be observed.

So there seems to be three teachers emphasizing on one of the aspects of ideals of pious life. This part of the verse lead some scholars think that there was a difference of opinions on way of life leading to divine knowledge/realization at time of composition of this Upanishad.[1]

All through this anuvak, emphasis is laid on continuous study, learning and teaching of Vedas to students. This is termed as Swadhyaya and Pravachana.

Eleventh Anuvak is a set of instructions that teacher(Acharya) gives to his disciple after the completion of vedic education and the disciple is about to start a household life. In this anuvak we find famous saying "Matrdevo bhava" which emphasizes on reverence to ones mother, father, teacher and guests. Here teacher ordains disciple as follows.

Tell truth always, observe Dharma or (eternal divine laws), continue progeny, never leave truth, never leave Dharma, never abandon care of your health, never abstain from good rituals ordained in scriptures, never leave study/learning and teaching, never abandon worshipping gods (Deva's) and revering ancestors (Pitru's). Treat mother as a God. Treat father as a God. Treat your teacher as a God. Treat guests as Gods. Those deeds, rituals that are good and lauded by people should be done. Have reverence for great men, sages and wise ones.

Engage in charity work with diligence, donate according to your wealth, donate with faith, donate with humility. Donate with friendliness (not belittling the receiver); in case of any doubts about performing these duties, follow as do the selfless, kindhearted sages do.

Finally to emphasize that these duties are to be performed with greater importance and due care, the verse states, This is divine ordain and divine commandment.

Forming the gist of these two Anuvaks, one can guess what kind of life a house holder, aspiring divine knowledge tried to lead at the time of this Upanishad.

Popular Verses[edit]

Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1:

Sanskrit:
त्व्ब्रह्मविदाप्नोति परम्‌ |
IAST:
Brahmavidãpnoti Param
Translation:
He who knows Brahman attains Parabrahman.[4][5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita, a New Translation and Commentary, Chapter 1–6. Penguin Books, 1969, p 461 (v 41)
  2. ^ Angot, Michel. (2007) Taittiriya-Upanisad avec le commentaire de Samkara, p.7. College de France, Paris. ISBN 2-86803-074-2.
  3. ^ ibid, p.13
  4. ^ Swami Sivananda (2008). Brahma Sutras: Text, Word-to-word Meaning, Translation, and Commentary. Tehri-Garhwal: Divine Life Society. p. 34. ISBN 8170521513. 
  5. ^ Dave, Kishorebhai (2012). Akshar Purushottam Upasana. Ahmedabad: Swaminarayan Aksharpith. p. 124. ISBN 9788175264328. 
  1. Outlines Of Indian Philosophy by M.Hiriyanna. Motilal Banarasidas Publishers.
  2. Kannada Translation of Taittireeya Upanishad by Swami Adidevananda Ramakrishna Mission Publishers.

External links[edit]