The Couch Of Brahman
Source: Sacred Books Of The East
Kitra Gangyayani, wishing to perform a sacrifice, chose Aruni Uddalaka,
to be his chief priest. But Aruni sent his son, Svetaketu, and said:
"Perform the sacrifice for him." When Svetaketu had arrived, Kitra asked
him: "Son of Gautama, is there a hidden place in the world where you are
able to place me, or is it the other way, and are you going to place me
in the world to which that other way leads?"
He answered and said: "I do not know this. But, let me ask the master."
Having approached his father, he asked: "Thus has Kitra asked me; how
shall I answer?"
Aruni said: "I also do not know this. Only after having learnt the
proper portion of the Veda in Kitra's own dwelling, shall we obtain what
others give us, i.e., knowledge. Come, we will both go."
Having said this he took fuel in his hand, like a pupil, and approached
Kitra Gangyayani, saying: "May I come near to you?" He replied: "You are
worthy of Brahman, O Gautama, because you were not led away by pride.
Come hither, I shall make you know clearly."
And Kitra said: "All who depart from this world go to the moon. In the
former, the bright half, the moon delights in their spirits; in the
other, the dark half, the moon sends them on to be born again. Verily,
the moon is the door of the Svarga, i.e., the heavenly world. Now, if a
man objects to the moon and is not satisfied with life there, the moon
sets him free. But if a man does not object, then the moon sends him
down as rain upon this earth. And according to his deeds and according
to his knowledge he is born again here as a worm, or as an insect, or as
a fish, or as a bird, or as a lion, or as a boar, or as a serpent, or as
a tiger, or as a man, or as something else in different places. When he
has thus returned to the earth, someone, a sage, asks: 'Who art thou?'
And he should answer: 'From the wise moon, who orders the seasons, when
it is born consisting of fifteen parts, from the moon who is the home of
our ancestors, the seed was brought. This seed, even me, they, the gods,
mentioned in the Pankagnividya, gathered up in an active man, and
through an active man they brought me to a mother. Then I, growing up to
be born, a being living by months, whether twelve or thirteen, was
together with my father, who also lived by years of twelve or thirteen
months, that I might either know the true Brahman or not know it.
Therefore, O ye seasons, grant that I may attain immortality, i.e.,
knowledge of Brahman. By this my true saying, by this my toil, beginning
with the dwelling in the moon and ending with my birth on earth, I am
like a season, and the child of the seasons.' 'Who art thou?' the sage
asks again. 'I am thou,' he replies. Then he sets him free to proceed
"He, at the time of death, having reached the path of the gods, comes to
the world of Agni, or fire, to the world of Vayu, or air, to the world
of Varuna, to the world of Indra, to the world of Pragapati, to the
world of Brahman. In that world there is the lake Ara, the moments
called Yeshtiha, the river Vigara, i.e., age-less, the tree Ilya, the
city Salagya, the palace Aparagita, i.e., unconquerable, the
door-keepers Indra and Pragapati, the hall of Brahman, called Vibhu
(built by vibhu, egoism), the throne Vikakshana, i.e., perception, the
couch Amitaugas or endless splendor, and the beloved Manasi, i.e., mind,
and her image Kakshushi, the eye, who, as if taking flowers, are weaving
the worlds, and the Apsaras, the Ambas, or sacred scriptures, and
Ambayavis, or understanding, and the rivers Ambayas leading to the
knowledge of Brahman. To this world he who knows the Paryanka-vidya
approaches. Brahman says to him: 'Run towards him, servants, with such
worship as is due to myself. He has reached the river Vigara, the
age-less, he will never age.'
"Then five hundred Apsaras go towards him, one hundred with garlands in
their hands, one hundred with ointments in their hands, one hundred with
perfumes in their hands, one hundred with garments in their hands, one
hundred with fruit in their hands. They adorn him with an adornment
worthy of Brahman, and when thus adorned with the adornment of Brahman,
the knower of Brahman moves towards Brahman. He comes to the lake Ara,
and he crosses it by the mind, while those who come to it without
knowing the truth, are drowned. He comes to the moments called Yeshtiha,
they flee from him. He comes to the river Vigara, and crosses it by the
mind alone, and there shakes off his good and evil deeds. His beloved
relatives obtain the good, his unbeloved relatives the evil he has done.
And as a man, driving in a chariot, might look at the two wheels without
being touched by them, thus he will look at day and night, thus at good
and evil deeds, and at all pairs, all correlative things, such as light
and darkness, heat and cold. Being freed from good and freed from evil,
he, the knower of Brahman, moves towards Brahman.
"He approaches the tree Ilya, and the odor of Brahman reaches him. He
approaches the city Salagya, and the flavor of Brahman reaches him. He
approaches the palace Aparagita, and the splendor of Brahman reaches
him. He approaches the door-keepers Indra and Pragapati, and they run
away from him. He approaches the hall Vibhu, and the glory of Brahman
reaches him and he thinks, 'I am Brahman.' He approaches the throne
Vikakshana. The Saman verses, Brihad and Rathantara, are the eastern
feet of that throne; the Saman verses, Syaita and Naudhasa, its western
feet; the Saman verses, Vairupa and Vairaga, its sides lengthways, south
and north; the Saman verses, Sakvara and Raivata, its sides crossways,
east and west. That throne is Pragna, knowledge, for by knowledge,
self-knowledge, he sees clearly. He approaches the couch Amitaugas. That
is Prana, i.e., speech. The past and the future are its eastern feet;
prosperity and earth its western feet; the Saman verses, Brihad and
Rathantara, are the two sides lengthways of the couch, south and north;
the Saman verses, Bhadra and Yagnayagniya, are its cross-sides at the
head and feet, east and west; the Rik and Saman are the long sheets,
east and west; the Yagus the cross-sheets, south and north; the
moon-beam the cushion; the Udgitha the white coverlet; prosperity the
pillow. On this couch sits Brahman, and he who knows himself one with
Brahman, sitting on the couch, mounts it first with one foot only. Then
Brahman says to him: 'Who art thou?' and he shall answer: 'I am like a
season, and the child of the seasons, sprung from the womb of endless
space, from the light, from the luminous Brahman. The light, the origin
of the year, which is the past, which is the present, which is all
living things, and all elements, is the Self. Thou art the Self. What
thou art, that am I.' Brahman says to him: 'Who am I?' He shall answer:
'That which is, the true.' Brahman asks: 'What is the true?' He says to
him: 'What is different from the gods and from the senses that is Sat,
but the gods and the senses are Tyam. Therefore, by that name Sattya, or
true, is called all this whatever there is. All this thou art.' This is
also declared by a verse: 'This great Rishi, whose belly is the Yagus,
the head the Saman, the form the Rik, is to be known as being
imperishable, as being Brahman.'
"Brahman says to him: 'How dost thou obtain my male names?' He should
answer: 'By breath.' Brahman asks: 'How my female names?' He should
answer: 'By speech.' Brahman asks: 'How my neuter names?' He should
answer: 'By mind.' 'How smells?' 'By the nose.' 'How forms?' 'By the
eye.' 'How sounds?' 'By the ear.' 'How flavors of food?' 'By the
tongue.' 'How actions?' 'By the hands.' 'How pleasures and pain?' 'By
the body.' 'How joy, delight, and offspring?' 'By the organ.' 'How
journeyings?' 'By the feet.' 'How thoughts, and what is to be known and
desired?' 'By knowledge alone.'
"Brahman says to him: 'Water indeed is this my world, the whole Brahman
world, and it is thine.'
"Whatever victory, whatever might belongs to Brahman, that victory and
that might he obtains who knows this, yea, who knows this."
Next: Knowledge Of The Living Spirit