The dialogue between Yājñavalkya and Maitreyī (bṛhadāraṇyaka) continued
“Maitreyī, The husband doesn’t become your beloved because he is the husband, but because it is ‘your’ husband. For your own happiness. The same holds the other way. The wife doesn’t become the beloved because she is the wife, but because she is ‘your’ wife. Likewise the children are loved not to please them, but because it pleases us. You don’t love money because money would feel good, you love it because it has some utility. People don’t like brāhmaṇya for brāhmaṇya’s sake. They like it because they find it useful. People don’t like kṣatriya so that the kṣatriyas are pleased. They like it because there is something useful from them. People don’t like other people for the sake of others, but for their own sake. People don’t propitiate deities to please the deities, they do so having their own selfish needs in mind. So do we love animals for our own sake. To summarize , if we love something it is for our own sake. What do we understand from all these things? Everything is for the sake of self. Everything even exists for the sake of self. So more than anything else everyone loves their own self. Now what is this self or ātman which is loved more than anything else? What is it’s svarūpa? This is what one should understand. ‘आत्मा वा अरे द्रष्टव्यः श्रोतव्यो मन्तव्यो निधिध्यासितव्यः’ Therefore one should strive to learn the svarūpa of the ātman through a guru and/or śāstras. Then it should be contemplated deeply. Then one should be steadfast in the dhyāna of the ātman. Thus by the threefold path involving śravana-manana-nidhidhyāsana one can realize the ātman. Once one realizes the ātman all the secrets of the world are revealed.”
Since everything other than the ātman is relative, the main aim of Yājñavalkya’s discourse is to make one renounce the other things. “How would one know everything about the world once he has realized the ātman? Since everything else is relative, ‘इदं सर्वं यदयमात्मा’ when we play the drum we hear different sounds. But they all emanate from the drum only. Once we realize the sounds emanated by the drums in general, the special sounds can also be realized after some time. Just like how the smoke emanates from the fire, the four vedas have emanated from the breath of the Bhagavān. Those are the pramāṇas. Whatever exists, it's the one and only ātman. That ātman is indeed the parabrahman, once you realize that you are indeed the parabrahman you’ll become immortal. Maitreyī, this path of śravana-manana- nidhidhyāsana through which you can realize the ātman is indeed the path to immortality.” After making Maitreyī realize this, Yājñavalkya became a parivrājaka and left.
The upadeśa of ‘da-da-da’ of Prajāpati (bṛhadāraṇyaka)
The devas, the asuras, and the manuṣyas are all the children of Prajāpati. All of them served him while adhering to the strict vow of brahmacarya. Once the devas approached him and requested, “O father, please provide us with good counsel” Prajāpati uttered ‘da’ and said, “You all understood?” The devas replied, “Yes we have understood.” Prajāpati asked, “What did you understand?” The devas replied, “dāmyata i.e. practice dama (self-restraint).” Prajāpati agreed.
Then the manuṣyas approached him and requested, “O father, please provide us too with good counsel” Prajāpati uttered ‘da’ and said, “You all understood?” The manuṣyas replied, “Yes we have understood.” Prajāpati asked, “What did you understand?” The manuṣyas replied, “datta i.e. practice dāna (charity).” Prajāpati agreed.
Finally the asuras approached him and requested, “O father, please provide us too with good counsel” Prajāpati uttered ‘da’ and said, “You all understood?” The asuras replied, “Yes we have understood.” Prajāpati asked, “What did you understand?” The asuras replied, “dayadhva i.e. practice daya (compassion).” Prajāpati agreed.
Prajāpati’s counsel for all the three groups was ‘da’. This is indeed the most important instruction. Even to this day the clouds make the sound, ‘da-da-da’ and has been instructing the same, ‘dāmyata-datta-dayadhva’
While Brahmā instructed the same to everyone, the three groups interpreted it differently. How is this possible? The wise and elderly provide us with good counsel so that we get rid of our bad qualities and inculcate good ones. What are the bad qualities? What are our flaws? What are our weaknesses? We know them but we don’t publicly accept them. Bhartṛhari says the following in his work vākyapadīya.
इदं पुण्यमिदं पापमित्येतस्मिन् पदद्वये ।
आचण्डालं मनुष्याणामल्पं शास्त्रप्रयोजनम् ॥
“This is puṇya, this is pāpa. This is known to all. In this matter the benefit or wisdom which can be acquired from the śāstra is minimal.”
The devas are consumers, always indulging in enjoyment, driven by their sense organs. They know that. Thus when Brahmā uttered, ‘da’ they understood as ‘dama’ “A guilty conscience needs no accuser”
In case of the manuṣyas their weakness is greed or avarice. Instead of giving, they are hellbent on extracting something from others. Getting rid of greed is the counsel provided by Brahmā to them.
We all know the nature of the asuras. Tormenting people, unleashing tyranny is their nature. Thus developing compassion is the counsel provided by Brahmā to them.
In reality all this is actually given to the manuṣyas only. In us, humans, there are people who are indulgent, who are greedy, who are tyrannical. The devas and the asuras in fact reside in us. Śrī-śaṅkara-bhagavatpāda says in the bṛhadāraṇyaka-bhāṣya, ‘न देवा असुरा वा अन्ये केचन विद्यन्ते मनुष्येभ्यः’. Even in the Bhagavadgītā it is said,
त्रिविधं नरकस्येदं द्वारं नाशनमात्मनः ।
कामः क्रोधस्तथा लोभस्तस्मादेतत्त्रयं त्यजेत् ॥
Kāma, krodha, and lobha, these are the paths which take us to the naraka and bring in the ultimate destruction. Thus these should be overcome is what is prescribed by the upadeśa given by Brahmā in the form ‘da-da-da’.
This is the final part of the multi-part translation of the Kannada book "Upanishattina Kathegalu" by Mahamahopadhyaya Vidwan Dr. N Ranganatha Sharma. Thanks to Dr. Sharada Chaitra for granting us permission to translate this wonderful work. Thanks to B. N. Shashikiran for timely and appropriate edits. The original in Kannada can be read here