Friday, September 30, 2016


(Compilation for a discourse by N.R. Srinivasan, Nashville TN, USA, July 2016)

Aitreya Upanishad is from Rigveda. This Upanishad has 3 Chapters with distinct 5 Khandas or sections. In the first section there is the open declaration that Atman alone was there in the beginning and nothing else. Here the Atman refers to Brahman or Paramaatman or the fundamental cause of the Universe.   Atman thought “Let me create the Worlds”.  Chandogya Upanishad also echoes the same in its statement “Sadeva somyedamagra aaseet”. The Supreme cause was characterized by Chit (sentient) and Achit (non-sentient) even in that lonely state before creation. The second section deals with creation of various elements, worlds and deities. The third section deals with the creation process with respect to of the food for the deities and senses. The fourth section describes three kinds of birth of the Purusha. The fifth section deals with the functions of Mind and comes with the famous Mahavakya of the Upanishads—Prajnaanam Brahma.     
Section 3 of Aitreya Upanishad talks about different aspects of Consciousness and varied expressions of Consciousness and declares all that is rooted in Prjnaana or Supreme Consciousness and that is Brahman.  It says different aspects of Consciousness are perception, discrimination, intelligence, wisdom, insight, steadfastness, thought, thoughtfulness, impulse, memory, conception, purpose, life, desire, and control – all these are attributes of the entity within the body whose nature is  that of Supreme Consciousness that goes even beyond all these which no one knows.   By Consciousness we understand commonly as Awareness. This awareness is at different levels that leads to Supreme Consciousness and that is Brahman. Swami Chidananda says we should focus on these various aspects of awareness in our practical life that is both in our Pravritti Marga, our secular pursuits as well as Nivritti Marga, Spiritual pursuits. Therefore he says “Alert and vigilant living itself is spirituality in its highest form;   Living in a mechanical way, without presence of mind, is called ‘pramāda’ and the Mundaka Upanishad warns us, “Self-knowledge is ruled out if you live in pramāda!  When the Aitareya Upanishad declares,   Prajnaanam Brahma--prajnāna is the highest truth,   we have reason to believe that the hint is towards the importance of living in attention”.  Pramaada means carelessness and insincerity. If we are alert we can avoid both.  In Taittareeya Upanishad Vedas mandate: “Dharmaan na pramaditvyam”—never fall from Dharma. The verb Pramada and the noun Pramaada come from the same root. Vedas also say Dharma is Truth and that is Brahman   that  is Eternal.  It implies one has to focus on Dharma in every thought or action and that is the alert and vigilence Swami Chidanada conveys to us. The mantra he is referring in Mundakopanishad is as follows: 

Naayam Aatmaa balaheenena labhyo  na cha pramaadaat tapaso vyaapyalingaat |
Etair- upaayair- yatate   yastu vidvaan tasyaisa aatmaa visate brahma-dhaama ||
The self is neither gained by the weak in body, mind and intellect or spirit nor by those practicing unintelligent austerities, but by wise people who strive with vigor, attention and propriety attain union with Brahman.  Brahman is not attained even by Sanyasis who do not go by the characteristic features of the Asrams (progressive pursuits of life).
Here the Sruti is also hinting at those Sanyasis (recluses) who walk with saffron robes (put on a show and exhibit their knowledge) but do not follow the Sanyaasaarama Dharma of Tapas or sacrifice and renunciation--Be a Yogi and Become a Yati to be blessed with Liberation.
Mahidasa was denied the privilege of sitting on the lap of his father Itaraa, the mother, who was perhaps from the potter community. She noticed the sad plight of her son and prayed to   her Ishta Devata, Goddess Earth, who appeared in a divine form.  She placed Mahidasa in a celestial seat and imparted unrivalled Wisdom. Thus was born, out of the potter Mahidasa, the Proletarian Rishi, the sage of the Laborers, and Son of the Soil, Seer Aitreya, who attained God-hood and authored the scripture of the common-man, and sang the song of Sindhu (Hindu) Culture from a hut of the “slum”. “Even the Creator is not free to create a world He likes.” We with our actions--known and unknown—are making the blue-prints of our future. The Lord is but a contractor, who executes our plans, as we give it to Him” asserts Swami Chinmayanada. He further says:

“In the beginning, there was this SELF alone1,” saying thus begins the Aitareya Upanishad. All other powers and principles in this universe are bound2 by hunger and thirst but the SELF is free from such limitations. The central and the main teaching of this Upanishad is to reveal the PURE SELF, which is not to be attained by “doing” anything but through “right seeing” alone. In 33 mantras, the ancient text employs stories and metaphors to show the sad limitations of all that we may possess, acquire, achieve and accomplish. It shows the supremacy of Awareness(prajnāna); knowing this highest truth as our own true nature, our incompleteness and sorrow come to an end for good.
 .ātmā vā idam-agra āseet – Aitareya Up. 1.1.1
tam ashanā-pipāsābhyām-anvavārjat – Aitareya Up. 1.2.1
prajnānam brahma - Aitareya Up. 3.1.3

Creation is often a subject matter of all religious and spiritual scriptures.  Upanishads include different theories on creation about which we have talked about in appropriate context.  Upanishadic thoughts on Creation can be broadly classified under three groups. Chandogya Upanishads talks logically about Trivritteekarana. Taittareya Upanishad talks about also logically about Pancheekarana. But Aitreya Upanishad is enigmatic in its approach and says creation started through Virat Purusah based on the description given Purushasookta Mantras of Rifgveda. Aitreya Upanishad forms part of Aitreya aaranyaka of the Rigveda. We come across the mention of Mahidasa Aitreya (3-16-7)   in Chandogya Upanishd who is the Rishi of Aitreya Upanishad.
“The Supreme cause evolved as Sat (Truth) was the One and Non-second entity that existed prior to creation. That evolved the three primary elements namely Tejas, Aap, and Anna. The supreme cause evolved the differentiation of names and forms by making each of those tripartite and the tripartite by entering into them, through Jeevaatman, as the Inner-self. The one Supreme Cause is itself the internal ruler or Antaryamin of all entities, Chit and Achit (sentient and Non-sentient)”says Chandogya Upanishad. This is Trivritteekarana.
“Brahman is Truth, Consciousness and Infinite. From that Brahman, the Aatman of this nature, Ether was produced. From Ether Air was born. Fire was born from Air. From Fire Water was produced. From Water came the Earth. From the Earth herbs were produced. From herbs Food was produced. The Body was produced from Food (Annamaya Kosa)”—says Taittareeya Upanishad and MNU. This is brought about by Pancheekarana.
Aitreya Upanishad begins with the statement that in the beginning there was only Aaatman the Self and says Aatman is the fundamental cause of the world echoing Chandogya Upanishd “sarvam kalvidam Brahma”, the whole universe is Brahman alone and Isavaasyopnishad, “Isavasyamidam sarvam”—everything is pervaded by Brahman.   This Supreme cause is characterized by Chit and Achit the subtle element and the material, the sentient and non-sentient.   It further goes on describing the creation of various elements, worlds and deities. The Self is in all. “The Self alone  is   all the gods, the five elements, Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space, all living beings born out of womb, eggs or heat, great or small, of shoots, horses, cows, elephants, men and women, all beings that walk, that fly or  walk and that  cannot fly or walk” as the mantras  in it says.
This Upanishad is enigmatic in its description of creation. Aatman who is Easwara created Virat Purusha endowed with natural human instincts of hunger and thirst. It is therefore logical that deities born out of him are also endowed with such limitations. These deities needed a place where to act from. So human body was created into which they gladly entered.  Hunger and thirst thus found a place but as an integral part of these deities. It is therefore logical to conclude all the sense organs are presided by deities.  Thus there was the need for food and Easwara created food articles like corn and animals.  Since the body of Viratpurusha could not survive without Easwara he also entered it   through the aperture in the crown of Viratpurusha called Brahmarandra.  This Upanishad mentions about Vaamadeva who realized his true nature as the Aatman even while he was in the womb of his mother free from the shackles of Bodies and senses. It describes how the Jeevaatman transmigrates, conception, birth and rebirths which are its   three kinds of births.
Finally it deals with the functions of the mind. In this description we come across one of the famous   Maxims of Upanishads Prajnaanam Brahama”that Brahman is nothing but the Consciousness. The various aspects of Consciousness as and the varied expressions are described and it makes the bold statement that all these are based in “Prajnaana” or Consciousness alone.
“Happiness is the true nature of Aatman. No object in the world has any happiness. When the mind goes out for it, it only experiences misery.  Desires can never be fulfilled in the material world.  Desires of the objects are fulfilled only when it returns to its own source and enjoys the happiness, and that is Self” says   Ramana Maharshi, the great Tamil philosopher.
Please go through the various Mantras with their meanings kindly provided by IndiaDivine.Org for wider circulation and publicity that I received for wider circulation with its goal to promote Sanatana Dharma.
1/Part 1: Desire to create; creation of all Universe; Prajaapati and gods.
1/Part 2: Prayer for grain by senses and their gods; creation of cows, horses and man; gods enter man at their places; share their thirst and hunger from the shares of gods.
1/Part 3: Grains created; run away; man fails to catch them with senses; caught grain through Appana-Vaayu; God enters body through Vidriti door; ecstasy of man at creation; God takes the name of Indra.
2: First embryo in mother’s womb and care by her; birth; relation with parents and duties; responsibility of a son; death and rebirth; third life; Vaamadeva enlightened in womb.
3: Rishis think over God and beings; existence of God established; Rishis declare Him to be the Creator and Protector; becoming immortal after death; in Heaven.
1.      Swami Chinmayananda, Aitreya Upanishad, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai, India.
2.      Anantha Rangacharya, Principle Upanishads, Bengaluru, India.
3.      Swami Tejomayananda, Upadesa Saram, Central Chinmay Mission Trust, Mumbai, India.
4.      Eknath Easwaran, The Upanishads, Nilgiri Press
5.      Editor, IndiaDivine.Org, Aitreya Upanishad.
6.      Krishna Moorty P., Upanishad Vallari, TT Devastanam, Tirupati, A.P. India.

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Aitareya Upanishad
Posted by The Editor | Feb 17, 2012 | IndiaDivine.Org
om van me manasi pratishthita mano me vachi
pratisthitamaviravirma edhi vedasya ma anisthah srutam
me ma prahasih anenadhitenahoratra nsandadhamritam
vadisyami satyam vadisyami tanmamatatu
tadvaktaramavatu avatu mamavatu
vaktaram-avatu vaktaram
aum santih santih santih harih om
O Almighty Lord! My speech is well established in my mind. My mind is well established in my speech. O Lord, please empower me to grasp and preach the Vedas. May I never forget your teachings! Only by knowing you are with me, I am able to maintain my days and nights. I shall always only follow you. May you protect me! My dear Lord, please protect me and my preceptor! O my dear Lord, please protect me and my preceptor and all those around me!
Chapter One
Aatma vaa idameka evaagra aasit | naanyat kinchana mishat  | sa eekshata lokaan nu srija a iti  ||
Before creation of the universe everything was situated within the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Brahman), everything was contained within it and nothing was at that time separate. The Jeevas (individual souls, tatastha sakti) and even the external energy Maya was still within it.  So that Lord then willed to manifest all the worlds through me (mahi dasa aitareya).
sa imamllokan-asrijata | ambho marichirmaramaapah ado-ambhah parena divam
dyauh pratistha-anttariksam marichayah | prithiviee maro yaa adhastaatta aapah ||
He created all the worlds – Ambahas (Tapah, Janah, Mahah and Svarga lokas – upper planets), Marichayah (the middle planets in the region of the sun, moon, stars which we in the middle earth planet can see. Mara refers to the earth, the planet where short life spans are normal;   and Aapah (the seven lower planets – Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Rasatala, Mahatala & Patala).

sa iksateme nu lokaqa lokapalan nu  srijaa iti | so ‘dbhya eva purusham samuddhrityaa-moorcchayat ||
After contemplating the world He had created, He then decided to fill the worlds. From that waters in which He was lying in, He made the Hiranmaya Purusha.
Tamabhyatapat tasyaabhitaptasya mukham nirabhidyata yathandam  | mukhaadvaak vacho ‘gnih nasike nirabhidyetaam nasikabhyaam praanah praanaad-vayugr akshinee nirabhidyetaam aksibhyaam chaksus-chakshusha aadityah karnau nirabhidyetaam karnaabhyaam srotam srotrad disas tvang nirabhidyata tvacho lomaani lomabhya osadhivanaspatayah hridayam nirabhidyata hridayaanmano manasaschandramaa nabhirnirabhidyata nabhyaa apaanah apanaanmrityuh sisnam nirabhidyata sisnod retah retasa aapah ||
The Lord deeply thought upon the form of Hiranyagarbha Purusha, as He thought in this way there burst forth from that golden egg a mouth. From that mouth came speech, from speech its guardian deity, Agni, came. Then came two nostrils and with them came Praana – breath and its guardian Vaayu. Two eyes next came with their guardians, the sun. Then two ears along with hearing, and its subtle guardian of the ether. Next came skin, the hairs of that skin being herbs and trees. B-boom, b-boom came the pounding of the heart, from the heart came the mind, and the mind’s guardian deity, the moon. The navel and the out-going breath next came with its guardian deity – death. The generative organ appeared, and from this organ semen came forth along with its guardian deity, the water based god, Prajaapati.
Taa  eta devataah sristaah asmin mahatyarnave praapatan  |   tama-sanaayaa
pipaasaabhyaam anvavaarjat | taa etamabruvan aayatanam nah prajaaneehi
yasmin pratishthitaa annamadaameti ||
Being created by the Lord, these guardian deities appeared   head first into the ocean of birth and death full of sufferings. Now the Lord subjected that Hiranyagarbha Purusha to hunger and thirst. The guardian deities then approached the Lord saying, “O Creator, please give us an abode where we can reside and eat food.”
Tabhyo gaamaanayat  | taa abruvan na vai no ‘yam alamiti \ tabhyo-asvamaanayan taa abruvan-na vai no ‘yamalam iti ||
The Lord then brought before the guardian deities a cow. But they said that this was not sufficient for them. So then the Lord brought a horse before them, but again they said it was not sufficient.
Tabhyah purushamaanayat | ta a abravan  sukrtam bateti purusho vaava sukritam | taa abraveet yathayatanam pravisateti ||
The Lord then led up a human being before them to which they said, “O well done. This form is just right for us to be established.” The Lord then told them to enter into that body and take up their respective places of residence.
agnirvaag bhootvaa mukham pravisad vaayuh prano bhootva nasike pravisat
aadityaschakshyurbhootva akshinee praavisad disah srotram bhootva karnoe
praavisan oshadhivanaspatayo-lomani bhootva tvacham pravisams chandramaa
manoe bhootvaa hridayam praavisan mrityarapaanoe bhootva nabhim pravisad

aapoe retoe bhootva sisnam praavisan ||
The fire-god, Agni, representing speech, then entered the mouth. Vayu, the life giving breath then entered the nostrils. The bright sun god Surya representing sight, entered the eyes. The Dik-devatas, the prajapatis from all directions representing hearing, entered the ears. The deities of herbs and trees as hairs entered the skin. The moon-god Chandra, lord of the mind, entered the heart. The god of death, Yama, entered into the navel representing out-going breath. Varuna, Ojas, the water god representing semen entered the generative organ.
tamasanayaapipaase abrutaam avaabhyaam abhiprajaaneeheeti | te abraveedetaassveva vaam devataasvabhajaami yetaasu bhaaginyau karomeeti tasmad yasyai kasyai cha devataayai havir-grihyate bhaaginyaavevaasyam asanaayaa-pipaase bhavatah ||
Now hunger and thirst personified prayed to the Lord, “Where can we reside, please find a place for us.” The Lord then said, “You shall be shared among all of these aforementioned deities, in this way whichever respective deity receives an offering, hunger and thirst can partake of it.
sa iksateme nu lokaascha lokapalascha, annamebhyah srijaa iti ||
The Lord, Supreme Creator of all, then thought, now I have created the universe and the demigods (guardian deities), let Me now create food for them.
So ‘po ‘bhya tapat taabhyo abhitaptaabhyo moortirajaayata yaa vai saa moortir-ajayataannam vai tat  ||
Contemplating for some time, looking at the waters, then up from the waters came a form. Indeed, that form that was produced from the waters was to be food.
Tadenat srishytam paraadatya-jighaamsa advacha ajighrikshat an-nasaknodvaacha griheetum  yad-dainad-vaachagrahaishyad-abhivyaahritya haivaannamatrapsyat ||
Having been created, it tried to run away. Speech tried to capture it, but was not able to grasp it. If speech had grasped it then just by the utterance of food one would be satisfied.
Tatpraanenaa jighrikshat  tannasaknot praanena griheetum sa yaddhainat praanenaa-grahaishyad abhipraanya haivaannam atrapsyat ||
The human form then tried to capture ‘its food’ by breath, but he was not able to grasp it by breath, for if he had of grasped it be breath alone; then merely by the scent of food one would be satisfied.
Tacchakshusha ajighrikshat tannaasaknocchakshusha griheetuma  sa yaddhaina-cchakshushaa grahaishyad dristva haivannamatrapsyat || 1.3.5 ||

Tach-chhortrenaagighrikshat tannaasaknoc-hchotrena  graheetum sa yad-dhainah-srotrenaagrahaishyat -srutvaa haivaannamatrapsyat  || ` 1.3.6 ||
Tatvachaa-jighrikshat tannaasaknot tvachaa graheetum sa yad-dhainat tvachaa grahaishyat sprishtvaa haivaann-amatrapsyat  ||1.3.7 ||
tanmanasaa-jighrikshat tannaasaknot-manasaa grahitum sa yad-dhainan-manasaagrahaishd dhyaatvaa haivaannamatrapsyat  || 1.3.8 ||
 Tachchisnojighrakshit  tannaasakno chchinnasnena   grsaheetum sa  yaddhainach chisnenaagrahaishyad visrijya haivaannamatrapsyat || 1.3.9 ||
The being then tried to grasp it with his sight but couldn’t. If he had, then just by the sight of food one would have been satisfied. The being then tried to grasp his food with hearing, but he was not able to do so. If he had, then simply by hearing food one would have been satisfied. The being then tried to grasp the food with its skin but could not. If he had, then simply by touching food one would be satisfied. The being then tried to grasp the food with the mind but was unable to do so. If he had,   then just by thinking of food one would be satisfied. The being then tried to grasp the food with its generative organ, prodding it, but could not grasp it. If this were possible then just by discharge or emission of food one would have been satisfied.

Tadapanenajighrakshat tadaavayat saisho annasya graho yadvaayurannaayurvaa
esha yadvaayuh ||
Then the being sought to grasp the food by the apana – digestive breath. Taking the food through the mouth with the help of the digestive air, and taking the food down to the stomach, the food was consumed. Proving that it is the digestive air (apana) that consumes food; and so the apana is the principle cause in sustaining one’s life by the intake of food.
Sa eeksata katham nvidam madrite syaaditi sa eekshata katarena prapadyaa iti
sa ikshata yadi vachaabhi-vyaahrita yadi praanenaabhipraanitam yadi chaksaushaa dristam yadi srotrena srutam yadi tvachaa sprishtam yadi manasaa dhyaatam yadi apaanenaabhyapaanitam yadi sisnena visrishtam atha ko aham iti ||
The Lord then thought to Himself, “How can this being live without Me?” Again He thought, “Through what shall I enter into this gross body?” Again the Lord thought to Himself, “If speech talks, if nostrils breaths, if the eyes see, if the ears hear, if the skin feels, if the mind thinks, if the Apaana vayu digests, and if the generative organ emits, then what am I?”
Sa etam eva seemaanam vidaryaitayaa dvara praapadyata  | saisha vidritirnaama
dvaastad-etannandanam  | tasya traya aavasathaastrayah svapnaah | ayamavasatho ‘ayamavasatho ayamavasath iti ||
So then the Lord opened the Brahma Randhra in the skull and entered into that opening. This opening is known as vidriti; the place of bliss or delight (nandana). For the Lord there are three palces which are dwelling places within that of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, deluded in all those three covered states.
Sa jaato bhootany abhivyai-khyat kimihaanyam vaavadishad-iti |
sa etam eva purusham brahma tatamamapasyat- | idamadarsam iti (3)
Thus having manifested Himself within the body of a being, the Lord then made the Jeeva soul active and naturally the body and senses became conscious of their respective objects. The tiny Jee va soul (individual soul) in bondage being puffed up by false ego acted himself as the Lord of the body, the Lord in the form of Paramatman (supersoul or witness) who is actually Lord of the body, saw the tiny soul bewildered thinking himself as being independent from the Lord. There are however some aware souls who on realization of the Super-soul exclaim that there is another who is superior, all pervading, Brahman I see him now.
Tasmadidandro-naamedandro ha vai naama tamidandram santam-indra ityaa-chakshate parokshena | parokshapriya iva hi devah paroksapriya iva hi devah ||
Knowing Him indirectly some call Him Indra (He who is beyond the range of the senses – idam drah). Yes, surely His name is Indra, for those wise devotees cryptically call Him Indra for they are fond of such cryptic puzzles.
Chapter 2
(Apakraamantu Garbhinyah)
Purushe ha vaa ayamaadito garbho bhavati yadetadretah tad etad sarvebhyo angebhyastejah sambhootamaatmanyevaatmaanam vibharti tad yadaa striyaam sinchati-athainajjanayati tadasya prathamam janma
(The pregnant woman may please vacate)
In this being, the individual soul (Jeeva) first enters repeated births in the form of an embryo. The individual soul left his previous situation with desires to fulfill in this world, and now through the semen of the male, is injected into a womb of a woman during her flowering period (ovulation). This is one’s first birth.
Tat striyaa  aatmabhuootam gacchati athaa svamangam tathaa | Tasmaad enaam na hinasti  saasyaitamaatmanamatra gatam bhaavayati ||
The embryo grows in the womb of the woman and she looks after it just as she does one of her very own limbs. She carefully nourishes this embryo that she has received from her husband.

sa bhaavayitree bhaavayitavya bhavati \  tam stree  garbham bibharti | so ‘agra eva kumaaram janmano ‘agre adhibhaavayati | sa yat kumaaram janmano ‘agre ‘adhibhaavayatyaatmaanameva tad bhaavayatyeshaam lokanaam santatyaa | evam santataa heeme lokaah  tadasya dviteeyam janma ||
The wife, being the caretaker of her husband’s embryo, is naturally nourished and cared for by the husband. The wife bears the child in her womb and the husband bestows cherishing care on the child in the womb and after birth. While the father nourishes the child from birth onwards, he also looks after his own well-being, for the continuation of the growing progeny. In this way progeny is continued on the earth. After some time the son gets his sacred thread. This is one’s second birth.

So ‘asyaayamaatma punyebhyah karmabhyah pratidheeyate athaasyaayam itara aatma kritakrityah vayogatah praiti  | sa itah prayanneva  punarjaayate  tadasya triteeyam janma  ||
Now the son whose prototype is the father is commissioned by the father to perform the samskara ceremonies and spiritual activities in the absence of the father.  After this the worthy son (putra) has accomplished his father’s rites, the father having attained old age, the father passes away and is born again. This is one’s third birth.
Garbhe nu sannanveshaam avedamaham devaanaaam janimani visva | satam maa pura aayaseeraraksannadhah syeno javasaa niradeeyamiti garbha eva etat-shayaano vamadeva-evam uvacha ||
With regard to this, it is stated by a great seer: “While I was confined in my mother’s womb I knew well all the many births I had taken. A hundred iron citadels confined me. But somehow by the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord, I again came in contact with my spiritual master that I had previously had in another birth. And now with the swiftness of a hawk, I flew forth” – Thus Rishi Vamadeva declared even while lying in the womb of his mother.
Sa evam vidvaan asmah sarira-bhedat oordhvam utkraamyaamushmin svarge loke sarvaan kamaan aaptvaa amritah samabhavat samabhavat ||
Realizing his predicament Rishi Vamadeva gave up all further materialistic desires, desiring only the lotus feet of the Lord. When finally his present body’s dissolution came, he attained to the Vaikunthas, the abode of transcendental bliss, and resumed his normal eternal constitutional blissful body free from three fold sufferings of this world.
Chapter 3
Ko ‘yamaatmeti vayamupaasmahe katarah sa aatma  | yena va roopam pasyati
yena vaa  sabdam srinoti yena va gandhan aajighrati yena va vacham vyaakaroti
yena vaa  svaadu chaasvaadu cha vijaanaati \\
Who is that Lord whom we worship? Out of the two souls residing in the body, who is that witness who is worshipped by us? The tiny Jeeva soul observes to see if he is the same as that Lord by seeing whom one sees, by whom one hears or by Whom one smells or talks about. Or by how one discriminates between the bitter and the sweet. Are we one?
Yadetad hridayam manaschaitat sanjnanam aajnaanam vijnaanam
prajnaanam medha drishtirdhritirmatirmaneesha
jootih smritih samkalpah kraturasuh kaamo vasa iti
sarvaanyevaitani prajnaanasya naamadheyani bhavanti ||
So we see that which is the heart and mind cannot also be the soul, perception, discrimination, intelligence, wisdom, insight, steadfastness, thought, thoughtfulness, impulse, memory, conception, purpose, life, desire, and control – all these are attributes of the entity within the body whose nature is Brahman, but they are not He, nor He, they.
Esha brahmaisHa indra esha prajaapatirete sarve devaa imaani cha pancha mahaabhootaani prithivee vaayuraakaasa apo-joyteem-sheetyetaani imaani cha kshudramisraaneeva  | bieeaani itaraani chetaraani cha andaajaani cha jaroojaani
cha svedajani choedbhijjaani cha asvaah gaavah purushaa hastino yadkinchedam praani jangamamcha patatri cha yaccha sthaavaram  | sarvam tat prajnanetram prajnane pratisthitam prajnanetro lokah prajna pratistha prajnanam brahma ||
He who is the underlying unseen, the Lord of hosts of demigods and humans alike, who has put into motion the five great elements, earth, water, fire, air and ether, mixed with the modes of nature, each and every living entity down to the smallest organism, those born form an egg and those born from a womb, those born from sweat and those born of a sprout, of horses, cows, men, elephants, those that walk and those that fly, all moving and non-moving beings--Know that the omniscient Personality of Godhead Who is the source of the impersonal Brahma has manifest all these different animate and inanimate objects through His power of Brahman. For the Lord is the source of the spiritual and material worlds everything emanates from Him, knowing this one can go to Him.
Sa etena prajnenaatmanaa asman-lokadutkramya amushmin svarge loke sarvaan kaamaan aaptva amritah samabhavat samabhavat aum ||
Rishi Vamadeva having realized his true nature as a spiritual being, free from the influence of material conditioning and the impositions thereof, attained to the transcendental plane. Now happily he regained his natural constitutional position as an eternal servant of Lord in Brahmaloka. 
O Almighty Lord! My speech is well established in my mind. My mind is well established in my speech. Kindly show yourself to me. Bestowing your kindness upon me, enable me to fully understand you, whose glories are sounded throughout the Vedas. May I never lose sight of the Vedic injunctions! By constantly remembering you I maintain my days and nights. I shall always deem to live by your path and shall always speak the truth.
Thus ends Aitareya Upanishad.

The Science of Aitareya Upanishad
Posted by Karthikeyan Sreedharan |  IndiaDivine.Org

Aitareya Upaniṣad is part of Aitareya Āraṇyaka which belongs to Ṛgveda. This is one of the most ancient Upaniṣads and is the only Principal Upaniṣad under Ṛgveda. The name Aitareya descends from Ṛṣi Aitareya who is considered as its revealer. It has got three chapters, each of which is divided into sections and then into verses. A verse is identified by its serial number together with the respective section and chapter numbers. This is the tenth Upaniṣad in the series, ‘The Science of Upanishads’.

Being part of a very ancient Āraṇyaka, this Upaniṣad has its expositions in a cryptic language predominantly mythological in nature. This applies especially to narrations regarding origin of beings. We have already studied, in later Upaniṣads, the same topic in a more clarified and rational format. Therefore, there is no point in discussing the presentations made here, in this respect. Aitareya Upaniṣad is specially known for the great declaration (Mahāvākya) it contains: “Prajñānam Brahma”. We have already seen three out of the four Mahāvākyas.

The Upaniṣad opens with a declaration on the oneness and eternalness of Ātmā. Let us see the verse:
आत्मा वा इदमेक एवाग्र आसीत् | नान्यत्किंचन मिषत् | ईक्षत लोकान्नु सृजा इति ||1.1.1 ||
ātmā vā idameka evāgra āsīt; nānyatkiṃcana miṣat; sa īkṣata lokānnu sṛjā iti. (1.1.1)

Word meaning: ātmā- Ātmā (Ātman); vā- vai – verily; idam- this, here; eka- one; eva- alone; agra- agre – in the beginning; āsīt- was; nānyatkiṃcana- nothing else whatsoever; miṣat- winked, existed; sa- He (Ātmā); īkṣata- thought; lokānnu sṛjā iti- let me create worlds.

Verse meaning: In the beginning, Ātmā alone existed here; nothing else, whatsoever, winked (originated). Ātmā thought, “Let me create the worlds”.

The oneness of Ātmā is an assertion consistently appearing in other Principal Upaniṣads (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.17, Māṇḍūkya 7 & 12, Śvetāśvatara 6.11, etc.). These Upaniṣads also declare that all beings originated from Ātmā (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.4.6, Chāndogya 6.8.7, Kaṭha 5.9 & 5.10, Śvetāśvatara 4.2). Here, Aitareya expresses the same view.

To start with the process of creation, Ātmā envisaged the world and also its protectors such as Agni (Fire), Vāyu (Air), Āditya (Sun), Diśa (directions), Herbs and plants, Moon, Mṛtyu and Water. To these protectors, he planned to provide abodes. At first he employed the form of a cow; but, they did not accept it, as it was found insufficient for them. Then he employed a horse; it too met with rejection. Finally, Ātmā picked up the form of man; fully satisfied, they all acclaimed it as the best. They entered into that form; Agni entered as speech in the mouth, Vāyu as Prāṇa in nostrils, Āditya as sight in eyes, Diśa as hearing in the ears, herbs and plants as hairs in the skin, moon as mind in the heart, Mṛtyu as Apāna in the navel and water as semen in the generative organ. This is what is described in this Upaniṣad about the origin of beings and about allied matters (1.1.2 to 1.1.4 and 1.2.1 to 1.2.4). Here, we may note that the search for abode for protectors culminates in man. This may be taken as an indication of the evolution of beings into the form of man, the forms of cow and horse representing lower rungs in the process. No further discussion is attempted, in view of the reason mentioned in the beginning.

Now, we see in verses 1.3.1 to 1.3.10, a description regarding creation of Annam (food) and the means for its consumption. This too has no philosophical importance and therefore does not warrant a discussion. But, verses 1.3.11 to 1.3.14 contain an esoteric exposition on how Ātmā sustains all the beings and how he comes to be Brahma. Verse 1.3.11 says that having envisaged the worlds, protectors and abodes, Ātmā noticed the inability of all these to exist without him. So he wanted to enter all and to be there always. But, he thought, “If spoken by speech, inhaled by Prāṇa, seen by eyes, heard by ears, touched by skin, thought of by mind, blown out by Apāna, discharged by generative organ, then who am I?” The implication is that he is not one to be spoken by speech, inhaled by Prāṇa, and so on; he is not an object of reach for these protectors. He is their sustainer and therefore, he must be beyond their reach. It follows that he cannot enter the body through any of them.

He therefore made an opening at the top extreme of the head and entered in, through that gate. This opening is known by the name Vidṛti and it is the place of bliss (nāndana). In the body, Ātmā has three places of dwelling which are three states of dreaming (verse 1.3.12). The implication is that Ātmā is seated in the body deep inside the head, which is not reachable by speech, ears, eyes, etc. On reaching him by appropriate means one enjoys bliss. From what we have already seen in other Upaniṣads, we can make out that the seat which finds a mention here is the Heart (Thalamus), the centre of consciousness. We also know that by realising Ātmā, one enjoys bliss (Kaṭha 5.12, Śvetāśvatara 6.12, etc). The three places of dwelling mentioned here are the three states of consciousness, namely, waking, dreaming and deep-sleep, which we have seen in detail in Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad. All these three states are depicted here as dreaming states, since none of them represents full awakening; the state of full awakening is the fourth state which is independent of the body.
Having established himself in the body, as afore-said, Ātmā saw at first only the forms of beings; he looked if anything else remained to be seen. Then he saw Puruṣa pervading all the beings and recognised this Puruṣa pervading the beings as Brahma; consequently, Ātmā declared, ‘I saw’ (1.3.13). Puruṣa got the name ‘Idandra’ (idam + dra = this I saw) in this manner, but he is indirectly called Indra (1.3.14).

The meaning of this rather veiled description is that Ātmā pervading the beings is Puruṣa; he pervades all, since without him nothing can exist (vide 1.3.11 above). On so pervading, everything naturally becomes Satyam (as stated in verse 2.6.1 of Taittirīya) which is Brahma. Here, when it is declared ‘I saw’, actually Ātmā saw himself pervading the beings. At first, the sight did not go beyond the physical part of the beings, but later it went beyond and saw the pervading entity too. The indication is that in this world, the physical aspects only are easily comprehensible and the sustaining force lies beyond, unreachable to senses. The importance of the name Indra is that he was, in the ancient times, considered to be the Supreme Being, the ultimate power, ruling the world. This underwent change later, when philosophical enquiries progressed further.
We now proceed to the second chapter, wherein it is stated that a person has three births. Let us see which those births are; see verse 2.1.1 which speaks of the first birth:

पुरुषे वा अयमादितो गर्भो भवति यदेतद्रेतः तदेतत्सर्वेभ्योഽङ्गेभ्यस्तेजः संभूतम् आत्मन्येवात्मानं बिभर्ति; तद्यदा स्त्रियां सिञ्चति अथैनज्जनयति; तदस्य प्रथमं जन्म || 2.1.1 ||

puruṣe ha vā ayamādito garbho bhavati yadetadretaḥ tadetatsarvebhyoṅgebhyastejaḥ saṃbhūtam ātmanyevātmānaṃ bibharti; tadyadā striyāṃ siñcati athainajjanayati; tadasya prathamaṃ janma. (2.1.1)

Word meaning: puruṣe- in man; ha- indeed; vā- verily; ayam- this; ādito- at first; garbhaḥ- conception; bhavati- occurs; yat- which; etat- this; retaḥ- sperm, seminal fluid; tat- that; etat- this; sarvebhyaḥ- of all; aṅgebhyaḥ- of body members; tejaḥ- essence, spirit; saṃbhūtam- combined together, composed of; ātmanyevātmānaṃ- him within himself; bibharti- bears, keeps; yadā- when; striyāṃ- in woman; siñcati- infuses into; atha- then; enajjanayati- delivers it; tadasya- that is his; prathamaṃ- first; janma- birth.

Verse meaning: The first conception (of a person) occurs in man, in the form of sperms (semen) which consists of the essence of all his body members. He bears it within himself (this is the conception). When he infuses his semen into woman, (it is said that) he delivers it; this is the first birth.

The birth mentioned here is not of the man who contributes the sperm, but it applies to all persons in general, man or woman. If, on the contrary, it is the birth of the sperm-producing man, it cannot be his first birth, since he already exists; moreover, we will have to concede then that women do not have births. Therefore, whatever is said in this chapter about three births are to be taken as presenting a general issue, applicable to all, not only to the sperm-giving man. The first birth of the sperm-giving man in a particular case must have happened when his father delivered the sperms into the womb of his mother. Contrary to this, conventional interpretations take the three births as pertaining to the sperm-giving man and consequently they fail to appreciate the message of the Upaniṣad in its right perspective.

In 2.1.2 & 2.1.3, it is said that the sperm infused into the woman becomes a part of her body and therefore it does not hurt her. She fosters it and in return she is fostered by the sperm-owner man. She duly gives birth to the child; it is the second birth of the person. Then, which is the third birth? Let us see it in 2.1.4 which is given below:

सोഽस्यायमात्मा पुण्येभ्यः कर्मभ्यः प्रतिधीयते अथास्यायमितर आत्मा कृतकृत्यो वयोगतः प्रैति, इतः प्रयन्नेव पुनर्जायते तदस्य तृतीयं जन्म || 2.1.4 ||

sosyāyamātmā puṇyebhyaḥ karmabhyaḥ pratidhīyate athāsyāyamitara ātmā kṛtakṛtyo vayogataḥ praiti, sa itaḥ prayanneva punarjāyate tadasya tṛtīyaṃ janma. (2.1.4)

Word meaning: saḥ- he; asya- his; ayam- this; ātmā- body; puṇyebhyaḥ karmabhyaḥ – for virtuous deeds; pratidhīyate- make use of; atha- then; asya- his; ayam- this; itara- the other; ātmā- body; kṛtakṛtyo- accomplished, contented; vayogataḥ- advanced in age; praiti- arrives at, reaches, appears; sa- he; itaḥ- from here (the world of karma); prayanneva- on departing; punarjāyate- is born again; tat- that; asya- his; tṛtīyaṃ- third; janma- birth.

Verse meaning: This body (that which is born as stated in 2.1.3 above) is utilised for doing virtuous deeds; on accomplishing all such deeds, when the body reaches an advanced age, he leaves the world of Karma and is born again. This is his third birth.

The word Ātmā here cannot be taken as indicating the ultimate principle of SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA, since, Ātmā is only one and is devoid of Karma, whereas the verse says about Ātmā being two and carrying out Karma. The word therefore indicates body only. The two bodies mentioned here are these: the one that is capable of doing Karma and the other that is in advanced age with accomplished deeds. Obviously, these are the two states of the same body. On reaching the latter state, the person leaves the world of Karma and is reborn, which is the third birth; this is the birth into the world of enlightenment. Though each and every person is not going to pass to this final stage in his life time, the Upaniṣad reveals it as a state that a person can possibly attain to. An indirect injunction here is that all able-bodied persons should engage themselves in virtuous deeds and only such persons become eligible to aspire for enlightenment.

A Ṛgveda hymn (4.27.1) cited by the Upaniṣad in this connection supports this concept about third birth. Further explanations are also given in verses 2.1.5 and 2.1.6. The Ṛgveda hymn says about Ṛsi Vāmadeva breaking away the chains of his abode in womb and getting free. See the hymn as quoted in verse 2.1.5:

गर्भे नु सन्नन्वेषामवेदमहं देवानां जनिमानि विश्वा |
शतं मा पुर आयसीररक्षन्नधः श्येनो जवसा निरदीयम् ||

garbhe nu sannanveṣāmavedamahaṃ devānāṃ janimāni viśvā;
śataṃ mā pura āyasīrarakṣannadhaḥ śyeno javasā niradīyam.

Word meaning: garbhe- in the womb; nu- indeed; san- being; anveṣām- searching; avedam- knew; ahaṃ- I; devānāṃ- of devas; janimāni viśvā – all kinds of;
śataṃ- hundered; mā- me; pura- pure- in the dwelling; āyasīrarakṣan- held by iron restraints; adhaḥ- downwards; śyeno- (like a) hawk; javasā- quickly; niradīyam- broke away.

Verse meaning: Indeed, while being in the womb, I knew, by enquiry, all kinds of Devas. (Desirous of their glittering lives, free from restraints) I quickly broke away, (like) a hawk, hundreds of iron-like strong restraints which were holding me down in that dwelling and (became free).

We have seen what the third birth is. Before that birth takes place, there must be a stage, when the person so born was lying in the womb. We know from our understanding of the third birth that this womb is the world of Karmas. It is this womb that Ṛsi Vāmadeva mentions in his Ṛgveda hymn. The iron restraints indicate the formidable bondages of the world of Karmas, the earthly life. Freedom or Mokṣa lies in demolishing these bondages. This is what the revelation of Ṛsi Vāmadeva means. This revelation in Ṛgveda Samhita finds expression in Kaṭha 6.15 and Muṇḍaka 2.2.8, wherein destruction of entanglements in the Heart is mentioned as a means to attain immortality; Muṇḍaka specifically says about perishing of the impressions of Karma.

In verse 2.1.6 Aitareya adds that, by demolishing the worldly bondages as stated in 2.1.5, Ṛsi Vāmadeva contained all the Kāmas in the resultant heavenly world and attained immortality.

In its third chapter Aitareya presents one of the four Mahāvākya(s) declared by Principal Upaniṣads; it is “प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्म (prajñānaṃ brahma)” in verse 3.1.3. (We have already seen the other three Mahāvākyas). The third chapter opens with a question: ”Who or which is that Ātmā whom we meditate upon?” The answer is given thus: ‘Ātmā is He by whom we see or hear or smell scents or utter speech or discern what is sweet and what is not’ (3.1.1). The next verse, 3.1.2 says about Prajñāna. See the verse below:

यदेतत् हृदयं मनश्च, एतत् संज्ञानमाज्ञानं विज्ञानं प्रज्ञानं मेधा दृष्टिर्धृतिर्मतिर्मनीषा जूतिः स्मृतिः सङ्कल्पः क्रतुरसु कामो वश इति, सर्वाण्येवैतानि प्रज्ञानस्य नामधेयानि भवन्ति || 3.1.2 ||

yadetat hṛdayaṃ manaśca, etat saṃjñānamājñānaṃ vijñānaṃ prajñānaṃ medhā dṛṣṭirdhṛtirmatirmanīṣā jūtiḥ smṛtiḥ saṅkalpaḥ kraturasu kāmo vaśa iti, sarvāṇyevaitāni prajñānasya nāmadheyāni bhavanti. (3.1.2)

Word meaning: yadetat- that which is; hṛdayaṃ- Heart; manaḥ- Manas; ca- and; etat- that; saṃjñānam- perception; ājñānaṃ- understanding; vijñānaṃ- worldly knowledge; prajñānaṃ- inner knowledge; medhā- prudence; dṛṣṭiḥ- sight; dhṛti- mental firmness, power of retention in mind; matiḥ- intellect; manīṣā- conception; jūtiḥ- impulse; smṛtiḥ- memory; saṅkalpaḥ- resolve; kratuḥ- determination; asu- reflection; kāmaḥ- wish; vasa- will; iti- so forth, consists of; sarvāṇyevaitāni- all these are verily; prajñānasya- of absolute knowledge; nāmadheyāni bhavanti – are synonyms.
Verse meaning: That which is Heart and Manas consists of perception, understanding, worldly knowledge, inner knowledge, prudence, sight, mental firmness, intellect, conception, impulse, memory, resolve, determination, reflection, wish and will. All these are verily synonyms of absolute knowledge.

We know that Heart is the centre of consciousness in the body; Manas here indicates the whole Antaḥkaraṇa. The phrase, ‘that which is Heart and Manas’, refers to the inner activities of Antaḥkaraṇa undertaken with the help of consciousness from the Heart. This verse says that these activities consist of perception, understanding, etc. It further says that all these can be represented by a single term, ‘Prajñānam’ (प्रज्ञानम्). The word Prajñā (प्रज्ञा) indicates consciousness acting on Antaḥkaraṇa; knowing is the consequence of this action. Prajñānam is an abstraction of all that is gathered by Prajñā in action. Therefore, Prajñānam is said to be absolute knowledge, which means that it is not the knowledge about this or that thing.

Now, we shall see how important Prajñānam is. See verse 3.1.3 below:

एष ब्रह्मा एष इन्द्र एष प्रजापतिः एते सर्वे देवा, इमानि पञ्चभूतानिपृथिवी वायुराकाश आपो ज्योतींषि इत्येतानि इमानि क्षुद्रमिश्राणीव बीजानि इतराणि चेतराणि अण्डजानि जारुजानि स्वेदजानि उद्भिज्जानि अश्वा गावः पुरुषा हस्तिनो यत्किंच इदं प्राणि जङ्गमं पतत्रि यच्च स्थावरं सर्वं तत् प्रज्ञानेत्रं प्रज्ञाने प्रतिष्ठितं प्रज्ञानेत्रो लोकः प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठा प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्म || 3.1.3 ||

eṣa brahmā eṣa indra eṣa prajāpatiḥ ete sarve devā, imāni ca pañcabhūtāni – pṛthivī vāyurākāśa āpo jyotīṃṣi ityetāni imāni ca kṣudramiśrāṇīvabījāni itarāṇi cetarāṇi ca aṇḍajāni ca jārujāni ca svedajāni ca udbhijjāni ca aśvā gāvaḥ puruṣā hastino yatkiṃca idaṃ prāṇi jaṅgamaṃ ca patatri ca yacca sthāvaraṃ sarvaṃ tat prajñānetraṃ prajñāne pratiṣṭhitaṃ prajñānetro lokaḥ prajñā pratiṣṭhā prajñānaṃ brahma. (3.1.3)

Word meaning: eṣa- this; brahmā- Lord Brahmā; eṣa- this; indra- Lord Indra; eṣa- this; prajāpatiḥ- Lord Prajāpatiḥ; ete sarve – all these; devā- Devas; imāni ca pañcabhūtāni – and these pañcabhūtās; ityetāni – such as these; pṛthivī- earth; vāyu- air, ākāśa- space; āpaḥ- water; jyotīṃṣi- fires; imāni ca kṣudramiśrāṇi – small organisms of various kinds; bījāni- seeds; itarāṇi cetarāṇi ca- others and still others; aṇḍajāni- born from eggs; jārujāni- born from the wombs; svedajāni- insects and worms; udbhijjāni- born of shoots; aśvā- horses; gāvaḥ-cows; puruṣā- men; hastinaḥ- elephants; yatkiṃca- whatever; idaṃ- this; prāṇi- breathing; jaṅgamaṃ- moving; patatri-flying; yacca sthāvaraṃ- also that which is not moving; sarvaṃ- all; tat- that; prajñānetraṃ- having Prajñā as eye, led by Prajñā; prajñāne pratiṣṭhitaṃ – established on Prajñānam; prajñānetro lokaḥ – World is led by Prajñā; prajñā pratiṣṭhā – Prajñā is the support; prajñānaṃ brahma – Brahma is Prajñānam.
Verse meaning: Lord Brahma, Lord Indra, Lord Prajāpatiḥ all Devas, all pañcabhūtās, all small organisms of various kinds, seeds of various kinds, beings born from eggs, wombs and shoots, insects and worms, horses, cows, men, elephants and whatever here breathing, moving, flying or not moving – all are led by Prajñā and established on Prajñānam. World is led by Prajñā which is its support also. Brahma is Prajñānam.

We have seen above that Prajñā is the action of consciousness on Antaḥkaraṇa and knowing is the consequence thereof. (Antaḥkaraṇa actually represents the stock of information relating to heredity and physical characteristics together with the physical tools for reading and executing such information. In lower beings and also in initial stages of higher beings, these may be in crude or rudimentary forms). So, Prajñā in essence is consciousness, which in turn represents Ātmā. We have already learnt from other Upaniṣads that universe is ruled and sustained by Ātmā (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.1.20, 2.4.6, 2.5.15, 3.7.3 to 3.7.23, 3.8.9, etc, Muṇḍaka 1.1.6, 2.1.1, etc). Here it is said that world is led and supported by Prajñā; the idea expressed is same. In Taittirīya 2.1 we saw that Brahma is Satyam-Jñānam-Anantam. Prajñānam is same as Jñānam; it represents Satyam and Anantam also, since without them Prajñānam cannot exist. So, it follows that Brahma is Prajñānam, as stated in this verse.

The Upaniṣad concludes by declaring that Ṛsi Vāmadeva, by means of this Prajñā, which represents Ātmā, transcended this world and became immortal.

With this, we complete the study of the science of ten Principal Upaniṣads which are renowned as Daśopaniṣads. As stated in the beginning of this series, we will be studying Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad also, considering its importance in exposition of spiritual knowledge.

[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above    as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other  discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <> duly acknowledging  for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further.  These  lectures are  posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done-]