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Life And Consciousness








Source: Sacred Books Of The East


Pratardana, the son of Divodasa, King of Kasi, came by means of fighting
and strength to the beloved abode of Indra. Indra said to him:
"Pratardana, let me give you a boon to choose." And Pratardana answered:
"Do you yourself choose that boon for me which you deem most beneficial
for a man." Indra said to him: "No one who chooses, chooses for another;
choose thyself." Then Pratardana replied: "Then that boon to choose is
no boon for me."

Then, however, Indra did not swerve from the truth, for Indra is truth.
Indra said to him: "Know me only; that is what I deem most beneficial
for man, that he should know me. I slew the three-headed son of
Tvashtri; I delivered the Arunmukhas, the devotees, to the wolves;
breaking many treaties, I killed the people of Prahlada in heaven, the
people of Puloma in the sky, the people of Kalakanga on earth. And not
one hair of me was harmed there. And he who knows me thus, by no deed of
his is his life harmed: not by the murder of his mother, not by the
murder of his father, not by theft, not by the killing of a Brahman. If
he is going to commit a sin, the bloom does not depart from his face. I
am prana, meditate on me as the conscious self, as life, as immortality.
Life is prana, prana is life. Immortality is prana, prana is
immortality. As long as prana dwells in this body, so long surely there
is life. By prana he obtains immortality in the other world, by
knowledge true conception. He who meditates on me as life and
immortality, gains his full life in this world, and obtains in the
Svarga world immortality and indestructibility."

Pratardana said: "Some maintain here, that the pranas become one, for
otherwise no one could at the same time make known a name by speech, see
a form with the eye, hear a sound with the ear, think a thought with the
mind. After having become one, the pranas perceive all these together,
one by one. While speech speaks, all pranas speak after it. While the
eye sees, all pranas see after it. While the ear hears, all pranas hear
after it. While the mind thinks, all pranas think after it. While the
prana breathes, all pranas breathe after it."

"Thus it is indeed," said Indra, "but nevertheless there is a
preeminence among the pranas. Man lives deprived of speech, for we see
dumb people. Man lives deprived of sight, for we see blind people. Man
lives deprived of hearing, for we see deaf people. Man lives deprived of
mind, for we see infants. Man lives deprived of his arms, deprived of
his legs, for we see it thus. But prana alone is the conscious self, and
having laid hold of this body, it makes it rise up. Therefore it is
said, 'Let man worship it alone as uktha.' What is prana, that is
pragna, or self-consciousness; what is pragna (self-consciousness), that
is prana, for together they live in this body, and together they go out
of it. Of that, this is the evidence, this is the understanding. When a
man, being thus asleep, sees no dream whatever, he becomes one with that
prana alone. Then speech goes to him, when he is absorbed in prana, with
all names, the eye with all forms, the ear with all sounds, the mind
with all thoughts. And when he awakes, then, as from a burning fire
sparks proceed in all directions; thus from that self the pranas
proceed, each towards its place: from the pranas the gods, from the gods
the worlds.

"Of this, this is the proof, this is the understanding. When a man is
thus sick, going to die, falling into weakness and faintness, they say:
'His thought has departed, he hears not, he sees not, he speaks not, he
thinks not.' Then he becomes one with that prana alone. Then speech goes
to him who is absorbed in prana, with all names, the eye with all forms,
the ear with all sounds, the mind with all thoughts. And when he departs
from this body, he departs together with all these.

"Speech gives up to him who is absorbed in prana all names, so that by
speech he obtains all names. The nose gives up to him all odors, so that
by scent he obtains all odors. The eye gives up to him all forms, so
that by the eye he obtains all forms. The ear gives up to him all
sounds, so that by the ear he obtains all sounds. The mind gives up to
him all thoughts, so that by the mind he obtains all thoughts. This is
the complete absorption in prana. And what is prana is pragna, or
self-consciousness; what is pragna, is prana. For together do these two
live in the body, and together do they depart.

"Now we shall explain how all things become one in that
self-consciousness. Speech is one portion taken out of pragna, or
self-conscious knowledge: the word is its object, placed outside. The
nose is one portion taken out of it, the odor is its object, placed
outside. The eye is one portion taken out of it, the form is its object,
placed outside. The ear is one portion taken out of it, the sound is its
object, placed outside. The tongue is one portion taken out of it, the
taste of food is its object, placed outside. The two hands are one
portion taken out of it, their action is their object, placed outside.
The body is one portion taken out of it, its pleasure and pain are its
object, placed outside. The organ is one portion taken out of it,
happiness, joy, and offspring are its object, placed outside. The two
feet are one portion taken out of it, movements are their object, placed
outside. Mind is one portion taken out of it, thoughts and desires are
its object, placed outside.

"Having by self-conscious knowledge taken possession of speech, he
obtains by speech all words. Having taken possession of the nose, he
obtains all odors. Having taken possession of the eye, he obtains all
forms. Having taken possession of the ear, he obtains all sounds. Having
taken possession of the tongue, he obtains all tastes of food. Having
taken possession of the two hands, he obtains all actions. Having taken
possession of the body, he obtains pleasure and pain. Having taken
possession of the organ, he obtains happiness, joy, and offspring.
Having taken possession of the two feet, he obtains all movements.
Having taken possession of mind, he obtains all thoughts.

"For without self-consciousness speech does not make known to the self
any word.[20] 'My mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that
word.' Without self-consciousness the nose does not make known any odor.
'My mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that odor.' Without
self-consciousness the eye does not make known any form. 'My mind was
absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that form.' Without
self-consciousness the ear does not make known any sound. 'My mind was
absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that sound.' Without
self-consciousness the tongue does not make known any taste. 'My mind
was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that taste.' Without
self-consciousness the two hands do not make known any act. 'Our mind
was absent,' they say, 'we did not perceive any act.' Without
self-consciousness the body does not make known pleasure or pain. 'My
mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that pleasure or pain.'
Without self-consciousness the organ does not make known happiness, joy,
or offspring. 'My mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that
happiness, joy, or offspring.' Without self-consciousness the two feet
do not make known any movement. 'Our mind was absent,' they say, 'we did
not perceive that movement.' Without self-consciousness no thought
succeeds, nothing can be known that is to be known.

"Let no man try to find out what speech is, let him know the speaker.
Let no man try to find out what odor is, let him know him who smells.
Let no man try to find out what form is, let him know the seer. Let no
man try to find out what sound is, let him know the hearer. Let no man
try to find out the tastes of food, let him know the knower of tastes.
Let no man try to find out what action is, let him know the agent. Let
no man try to find out what pleasure and pain are, let him know the
knower of pleasure and pain. Let no man try to find out what happiness,
joy, and offspring are, let him knew the knower of happiness, joy, and
offspring. Let no man try to find out what movement is, let him know the
mover. Let no man try to find out what mind is, let him know the
thinker. These ten objects (what is spoken, smelled, seen, felt) have
reference to self-consciousness; the ten subjects (speech, the senses,
mind) have reference to objects. If there were no objects, there would
be no subjects; and if there were no subjects, there would be no
objects. For on either side alone nothing could be achieved. But the
self of pragna, consciousness, and prana, life, is not many, but one.
For as in a car the circumference of a wheel is placed on the spokes,
and the spokes on the nave, thus are these objects, as a circumference,
placed on the subjects as spokes, and the subjects on the prana. And
that prana, the living and breathing power, indeed is the self of
pragna, the self-conscious self: blessed, imperishable, immortal. He
does not increase by a good action, nor decrease by a bad action. For
the self of prana and pragna makes him, whom he wishes to lead up from
these worlds, do a good deed; and the same makes him, whom he wishes to
lead down from these worlds, do a bad deed. And he is the guardian of
the world, he is the king of the world, he is the lord of the
universe--and he is my (Indra's) self; thus let it be known, yea, thus
let it be known!"


[Footnote 14: The question put by Kitra to Svetaketu is very obscure,
and was probably from the first intended to be obscure in its very
wording. Kitra wished to ask, doubtless, concerning the future life.
That future life is reached by two roads; one leading to the world of
Brahman (the conditioned), beyond which there lies one other stage only,
represented by knowledge of, and identity with the unconditioned
Brahman; the other leading to the world of the fathers, and from thence,
after the reward of good works has been consumed, back to a new round of
mundane existence. There is a third road for creatures which live and
die, worms, insects, and creeping things, but they are of little
consequence. Now it is quite clear that the knowledge which King Kitra
possesses, and which Svetaketu does not possess, is that of the two
roads after death, sometimes called the right and the left, or the
southern and northern roads. The northern or left road, called also the
path of the Devas, passes on from light and day to the bright half of
the moon; the southern or right road, called also the path of the
fathers, passes on from smoke and night to the dark half of the moon.
Both roads therefore meet in the moon, but diverge afterwards. While the
northern road passes by the six months when the sun moves towards the
north, through the sun, moon, and the lightning to the world of Brahman,
the southern passes by the six months when the sun moves towards the
south, to the world of the fathers, the ether, and the moon. The great
difference, however, between the two roads is, that while those who
travel on the former do not return again to a new life on earth, but
reach in the end a true knowledge of the unconditioned Brahman, those
who pass on to the world of the fathers and the moon return to earth to
be born again and again. The speculations on the fate of the soul after
death seem to have been peculiar to the royal families of India, while
the Brahmans dwelt more on what may be called the shorter cut, a
knowledge of Brahman as the true Self. To know, with them, was to be,
and, after the dissolution of the body, they looked forward to immediate
emancipation, without any further wanderings.]






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