[Advaita-l] Brihadaranyaka Up. Muni Kaanda

kuntimaddi sadananda via Advaita-l advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Thu Sep 11 19:33:45 CDT 2014

                                                                      Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – Muni Kanda

PraNAms to all.

 We are planning to have a two-day camp on Bri. Up Muni kaanda during the Columbus Day holidays.  During the last Memorial Day camp we took the Madhu kaanda consisting of Ch. 1 and II. The 8 talks associated with Madhu kaanda are available now on Yu-Tube for those who are interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLWjpkY4mU2RDNDD0OyrPbO42Rm0G-cW2e&feature=player_detailpage&v=UnRyIF1PVtc 
at http://www.livestream.com/advaita_sadaji/folder?dirId=98796050-faa4-4b40-82b1-b42274506e87

As continuation of the series we will be doing a two-day camp during Columbus day October 11 and 12, taking this Muni Kaanda. 3rd and 4th chapters together are called Muni kaanda or upapatti kanda. Yajnavalkya is the muni here, who shares his great wisdom, and hence called Muni Kaanda. We provide the summary of the kaanda based on what was presented by Swami Paramarthanandaji in his talks. 

3rd Chapter is primarily for winning the arguments – hence more of manana pradhaanam with jalpa (less light but more heat).  Yajnavalkya responds to the questions posed, and discussion is not intended as a teaching but to win over the arguments. Since the questioners themselves were well educated, the discussion becomes somewhat technical. In the 3rd chapter there are 9 Brahmanas and 92 mantras. 

The first three brahmanas are upaasana pradhaana or emphasis on upaasanas, brahmanas 4 to 8 are Vedanta pradhaana, and 9th brahmana has mixture of the two.  Of the brahmanas 4-8, fourth and fifth brahmanas are tvam pada pradhaana or discusses jiivaatma swaruupam, and 6,7,8 brahmanas are tat pada pradhaana or paaramArtha swaruupam. The 3rd chapter begins with story with King Janaka organizing a yaaga to which many scholars from various parts of the country were invited to attend. At the conclusion of the yaaga, king Janaka announces that he will give 1000 cows decorated with gold caps to whoever proved to be the greatest scholar of Vedanta. While the rest of the scholars were hesitant to claim the award and were whispering with each other, sage Yajnavalkya gets up and asks his disciple Saamashraya to drive the cows to ashram. Hearing this, others scholars got irritated for the audacity of Yajnavalkya and protested, asking how he can claim that he is
 greatest scholars, when there are so many scholars sitting there. Yagnyavalkya responded saying that I do not know if I am the greatest or not, but I need these cows hence asked my disciple to drive them home. Hearing that, the rest of the scholars challenged his claim for the award. 

Each brahmana corresponds to challenge by each of the scholars present who take their turn to defeat Yajnavalkya . There were 8 Vedic scholars, 7 male and 1 female. The female scholar was the famous brahmavaadini Gargi.  Brahmanas are named after the challengers and Gargi challenges twice and hence there are two brahmanas associated with her. 

The first brahmana is after Ashvala Rishi who was Rik veda scholar. He raises two topics. The first one is related to karmasahita-upaasanas or meditations that involved rituals. By way of answer Yajnyavalkya mentions that meditation has to be done upon the devata involved along with the ritual. They cannot be done independently. The second topic relates to Sampath upaasanas. It is a type of upaasana involving an ordinary ritual but visualized as extraordinary by invocation – nikRiShTa upaasana is changed into utkRiShTa upaasana. For example a simple taking food is converted into homam by offering the food as aahutam to the Fire of hunger – jaTaraagni. These upaasanas take the kartaa to higher lokas.  After hearing the answer of Yagnyavalkya, Ashvala Rishi withdraws his objection.

The second brahmana is due to Arthabhaaga Rishi – Two topics were raised. 1) Hiranya garbha samsaaritvam and 2) jnaanam or moksha kaaraNam. In essence, even if one goes to Hiranya garbha loka, there will be samsaara with sense objects and sense organs to enjoy – and therefore sukha-duHkha sammelanam – mixture of happiness and sorrow or pleasures and pains.  Jnaanam helps to go beyond –  of the jiivan mukta and videha mukti, the latter is mentioned. If one does not gain jnaanam, jiiva travels to other lokas, thus emphasizing that jnaani is asamsaari, while ajnaani remains as samsaari (travelling to different lokas for experiences for pleasures and pains. 

3rd brahmana is due to Bhujyu Rishi. Two topics were discussed. 1) Ashvamedha yaaga phalam which involves brahma loka praapti and 2) hiranya garbha samsaaritvam where brahma loka also falls within samsaara. Yajnavalkya says one reason Brahma loka falls in samsaara is that it can be reached by traveling. Hence it is desha-kaala vastu parichchinnam or limited by space-time and object wise. Hence Brahma loka is also not a worthy goal to have. All the above upaasanas are sa kaama upaasnas or desire prompted upaasanas and hence have tangible results. 

4th brahmana is due to Ushatti muni. Here we get important Vedantic teaching. The topic deals with jiivaatma swaruupam or aatma vidya. In essence, I have to discover myself by negating what I am not. Anything that can be objectified comes under anaatma that includes both grosser and subtler entities of the world. 

5th brahmana is due to kahola Rishi and the discussion is about the nitya asamsaaritvam or nithya muktatvam – Or I am eternally free.  Atma is ever free and anaatma is never free. Recognition that I am that aatma that is ever free and not the anaatma that is never free is moksha.  Atma need not have to realize and anaatma cannot realize. Realization is therefore clear understanding that I am aatma and not anaatma. This wisdom is moksha or aatma vidya. For this four sadhaas are prescribed. Shravanam, mananam, nidhidhyaasanam and sanyaasam. Sanyaasa can be defined as the mental preparedness to lose anything at any time since anything and anytime is only mithyaa. 

6th brahmana is due to Gargi.  Two topics were discussed. One is related to different lokas or fields of experiences. Nine lokas were enumerated with each loka finer or subtler than the previous one. Finest one is Brahmaloka – Is there something subtler than Brahma loka? – Gargi asked. Yajnavalkya says by logical analysis one can only come up to the subtlest matter. Beyond that intellect cannot know or the knowledge is not available for the subtle mind. That knowledge comes under apourusheya vidya. This is pictorially mentioned by saying that Gargi, if you tried to inquire further your head will break – essentially it is beyond the logic. 

7th brahmana is due to uddaalaka Rishi. Two topics were discussed. One is related to Hiranya garba and the other to antaryaami or Iswara. Both are related to consciousness expressing in subtler matter. Antaryami is the inner controller of the whole universe or Iswara.  

8th brahmana, Gargi comes back again and declares to all the scholars in the court that she will ask two questions and if Yajnavalkya answers correctly then rest assured that no one can defeat him in the debate. Her questions were related to antaryami and akshara brahma. Yajnavalkya answers both of them to her satisfaction.

9th brahmana is due to Shakalya. He raises the question in spite of the warning by Gargi. The question is related to Hiranhya garbha upaasana and nirguna brahma. After answering the question Yajnavalkya poses a question to Shakalya who could not answer. Since the question was asked in spite of the warning by Gargi, Yajnavalkya says if you do not answer my question, you head will break. These may be symbolic statements. Yajnavalkya himself answer the question he posed. Thus ends the third chapter of Brihadaryaka Up. 

We will be taking for our Spiritual camp in depth analysis mantras from this chapter - 2(11,13), 4(12), 5(1), 7(2,15,23), 8(7 to 11), 9(6,28) – which relate more to Vedanta than upasana or upaasana phala. 2(11,13) means second brahmana, mantras 11 and 13, etc.  

We will discuss about the 4th Chapter next post. 

Hari Om!

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