Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Brihadaranyaka Up : Upadesha Kanda

Tags: horse
The first two sections beginning with, ‘The head of the sacrificial Horse is the dawn,’ will be devoted to the meditation regarding the horse sacrifice. The meditation about the horse is described, as the horse is the most important thing in this sacrifice. Its importance is indicated by the fact that the sacrifice is named [Page 8] after it, and its presiding deity is Prajāpati (Hiraṇyagarbha).
Verse 1.1.1
उषा वा अश्वस्य मेध्यस्य शिरः । सूर्यश्चक्षुः, वातः प्राणः, व्यात्तमग्निर्वैश्वानरः, संवत्सर आत्माश्वस्य मेध्यस्य । द्यौः पृष्ठम्, अन्तरिक्षमुदरम्, पृथिवी पाजस्यम्, दिशः पार्श्वे, अवान्तरदिशः पर्शवः, ऋतवोऽङ्गानि, मासाश्चार्धमासाश्च पर्वाणि, अहोरात्राणि प्रतिष्ठाः, नक्षत्राण्यस्थीनि, नभो मांसानि । ऊवध्यं सिकताः, सिन्धवो गुदाः, यकृच्च क्लोमानश्च पर्वताः, ओषधयश्च वनस्पतयश्च लोमानि, उद्यन् पूर्वार्धाः निम्लोचञ्जघनार्धः, यद्विजृम्भते तद्विद्योतते, यद्विधूनुते तत्स्तनयति, यन्मेहति तद्वर्षति, वागेवास्य वाक् ॥ १ ॥
uṣā vā aśvasya medhyasya śiraḥ | sūryaścakṣuḥ, vātaḥ prāṇaḥ, vyāttamagnirvaiśvānaraḥ, saṃvatsara ātmāśvasya medhyasya | dyauḥ pṛṣṭham, antarikṣamudaram, pṛthivī pājasyam, diśaḥ pārśve, avāntaradiśaḥ parśavaḥ, ṛtavo'ṅgāni, māsāścārdhamāsāśca parvāṇi, ahorātrāṇi pratiṣṭhāḥ, nakṣatrāṇyasthīni, nabho māṃsāni | ūvadhyaṃ sikatāḥ, sindhavo gudāḥ, yakṛcca klomānaśca parvatāḥ, oṣadhayaśca vanaspatayaśca lomāni, udyan pūrvārdhȧḥ nimlocañjaghanārdhaḥ, yadvijṛmbhate tadvidyotate, yadvidhūnute tatstanayati, yanmehati tadvarṣati, vāgevāsya vāk || 1 ||
l. Om. The head of the sacrificial horse is the dawn, its eye the sun, its vital force[7] the air, its open mouth the fire called Vaiśvānara, and the body of the sacrificial horse is the year. Its back is heaven, its belly the sky, its hoof the earth, its sides the four quarters, its ribs the intermediate quarters, its members the seasons, its joints the months and fortnights, its feet the days and nights, its bones the stars and its flesh the clouds. Its half-digested food is the sand, its blood-vessels the rivers, its liver and spleen the mountains, its hairs the herbs and trees. Its forepart is the ascending sun, its hind part the descending sun, its yawning is lightning, its [Page 9] shaking the body is thundering, its making water is raining, and its neighing is voice.
The head of the sacrificial horse, i.e. one fit for a sacrifice, is the dawn, a period of about three quarters of an hour just before sunrise. The particle ‘vai’ recalls something well-known, here, the time of dawn. The similarity is due to the importance of each. The head is the most important part of the body (and so is the dawn of the day). The horse which is a part of the sacrifice has to be,purified; hence its head and other parts of its body are to be looked upon as certain divisions of time etc. (and not vice versa). And it will be raised to the status of Prajāpati by being meditated upon as such. In other words, the horse will be deified into Prajāpati if the ideas of time, worlds and deities be superimposed on it, for Prajāpati comprises these. It is like converting'an image etc. into the Lord Viṣṇu or any other deity. Its eye the sun, for it is next to the head (as the sun is next to, or rises just after the dawn), and has the sun for its presiding deity. Its vital force the air, because as the breath it is of the nature of air. Its open mouth the fire called Vaiśvānara. The word ‘Vaiśvānara’ specifies the fire. The mouth is fire, because that is its presiding deity. The body of the sacrificial horse is the yearconsisting of twelve or thirteen[8] months. The Word ‘Ātman’ here means the body. The year is the body of the divisions of time; and the body is called Ātman, as we see it in the Śruti passage, ‘For the Ātman (trunk) is the centre of these limbs' (Tai. Ā. II. iii. 5). [Page 10] The repetition of the phrase ‘of the sacrificial horse’ is intended to show that it is to be connected with all the terms. Its back is heaven,because both are high. Its belly the sky, because both are hollow. Its hoof the earth: ‘Pājasya’ should be ‘Pādasya’ by the usual transmutation of letters, meaning a seat for the foot. Its sides the four quarters, for they are connected with the quarters. It may be objected that the sides being two and the quarters four in number, the parallel is wrong. The aṇswer to it is that since the head of the horse can be in any direction, its two sides can easily come in contact with all the quarters. So it is all right. Its ribs the intermediate quarters such as the south-east. Its members the seasons: The latter, being parts of the year, are its limbs, which brings out the similarity. Its joints the months and fortnights, because both connect (the latter connect the parts of the year as joints do those of the body). Its feet the days and nights. The plural in the latter indicates that those[9] pertaining to Prajāpati, the gods, the Manes and men are all meant. Pratiṣṭhā literally means those by which one stands; hence feet. The deity representing time stands on the days and nights, as the horse does on its feet. Its bones the stars, both being white. Its flesh the clouds: The word used in the text means the sky, but since this has been spoken of as the belly, here it denotes the clouds which float in it. They are flesh, because they shed water as the [Page 11] flesh sheds blood. Its half-digested food in the stomach is the sand, because both consist of loose parts. Its blood-vessels the rivers, for both flow. The word in the text, being plural, denotes bloodvessels here. Its liver and spleen the mountains, both being hard and elevated. ‘Yakṛt’ and ‘Kloman’ are muscles below the heart on the right and left. The latter word, though always used in the plural, denotes a single thing. Its hairs the herbs and trees: These, being small and large plants respectively, should be applied to the short and long hairs according to fitness. Its forepart, from the navel onward, is the ascending (lit. ‘rising’) sun, up to noon. Its hind part the descending (lit. ‘setting’) sun, from noon on. The similarity consists in their being the anterior and posterior parts respectively in each case. Its yawning or stretching or jerking the limbs is lightning, because the onesplits the cloud, and the other the mouth. Its shaking the body is thundering, both producing a sound.Its making water is raining, owing to the similarity of moistening. And its neighing is voice or sound—no fancying is needed here.

Verse 1.1.2
अहर्वा अश्वम् पुरस्तान्महिमान्वजायत, तस्य पूर्वे समुद्रे योनिः; रात्रिरेनम्
पश्चान्महिमान्वजायत, तस्यापरे समुद्रे योनिः; रेतौ वा अश्वम् महिमानावभितः
सम्बभूवतुः । हयो भूत्वा देवानवहत्, वाजी गन्धर्वान्, अर्वासुरान्, अश्वो
मनुष्यान्; समुद्र एवास्य बन्धुः, समुद्रो योनिः ॥ १ ॥
इति प्रथमं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
aharvā aśvam purastānmahimānvajāyata, tasya pūrve samudre yoniḥ; rātrirenam
paścānmahimānvajāyata, tasyāpare samudre yoniḥ; retau vā aśvam mahimānāvabhitaḥ
sambabhūvatuḥ | hayo bhūtvā devānavahat, vājī gandharvān, arvāsurān, aśvo
manuṣyān; samudra evāsya bandhuḥ, samudro yoniḥ || 2 ||
iti prathamaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
2. The (gold) vessel called Mahiman in front of the horse, which appeared about it (i.e. pointing [Page 12] it out), is the day. Its source is the eastern sea. The (silver) vessel called Mahiman behind the horse, which appeared about it, is the night Its source is the western sea. These two vessels called Mahiman appeared on either side of the horse. As a Hay a it carried the gods, as a Vājin the celestial minstrels, as an Arvan the Asuras, and as an Aśva men. The Supreme Self is its stable and the Supreme Self (or the sea) its source.
The vessel called Mahiman, etc. Two sacriñcial vessels called Mahiman, made of gold and silver respectively, are placed before and behind[10] the horse. This is a meditation regarding them. The gold vessel is the day, because both are bright. How is it that the vessel in front of the horse, which appeared about (lit. ‘after’) it, is the day? Because the horse is Prajāpati. And it is Prajāpati consisting of the sun etc. who is pointed out by the vessel that we are required to look upon as the day.—The preposition ‘anu’ here does not mean ‘after’ but points out something.—So the meaning is, the gold vessel (Mahiman) appeared pointing out the horse as Prajāpati, just as we say lightning flashes pointing out (Anu) the tree. Its source, the place from which the vessel is obtained, is the eastern sea. Literally translated, it would mean, ‘is in the eastern sea,' but the locative case-ending should be changed into the [Page 13] nominative to give the required sense. Similarly the silver vessel behind the horse, which appeared about it, is the night, because both (‘Rājata’ and ‘Rātri’) begin with the same syllable (Rā),[11] or because both are inferior to the previous set. Its source is the western sea. The vessels are called Mahiman, because they indicate greatness. It is to the glory of the horse that a gold and a silver vessel are placed on each side of it. These two vessels called Mahiman, as described above, appeared on either side of the horse. The repetition of the sentence is to glorify the horse, as much as to say that for the above reasons it is a wonderful horse. The words ‘As a Haya’ etc. are similarly eulogistic. ‘Haya’ comes from the root ‘hi,’ meaning, to move. Hence the word means ‘possessing great speed.’ Or it may mean a species of horse. It earned the gods, i.e. made them gods, since it was Prajāpati; or literally carried them. It may be urged that this act of carrying is rather a reproach. But the answer is that carrying is natural to a horse; so it is not derogatory. On the contrary, the act, by bringing the horse into contact with the gods, was a promotion for it. Hence the sentence is a eulogy. Similarly ‘Vājin’ and the other terms mean species of horses. As a Vājin it carried the celestial minstrels; the ellipsis must be supplied with the intermediate words. Similarly as an Arvan (it carried) the Asuras, and as an Aśva (it carried) men. The Supreme Self—‘Samudra’ here means that—is its stable, the place [Page 14] where it is tied. And the Supreme Self its source, the cause of its origin. Thus it has sprung from a pure source and lives in a pure spot. So it is a tribute to the horse. Or ‘Samudra’ may mean the familiar sea, for the Śruti says, ‘The horse has its source in water’ (Tai. S. II. iii. 12).


The being identified with the cosmic mind.
The five elements, ten organs, vital force (with its fivefold function) and mind (in its fourfold aspect). Or the tea organs, five vital forces, Manas and intellect.
Such as desires etc., which must have a basis, and this is the self.
The being identified with the sum total of all minds.
As in the passage, ‘This world, O Gautama, is fire’ (VI. ii. 11).
Earth, water and fire are the gross world, and air and the ether the subtle world. Their essence is the simple form of each, before its combination with the other four elements.
Represented by the breath.
Including the intercalary month.
A month of ours makes a day and night of the Manes. A year of ours makes a day and night of the gods; and twenty-four million years of the latter make a day and night of Prajāpati, equivalent to two Kalpas or cycles of ours.
That is, before and after the horse is killed.
Ānandagiri takes ‘Varṇa’ in the sense of colour or lustre, instead of syllable, in which case the night must be supposed to be a moon-lit one.

Upadesha kanda is the 1st 2 chapters
Upadesha Is the teaching to reveal atman or Brahman
Since Brahman is very subtle the Upanishads uses a special method - adhyaropa apavada
Shishyanam sukhabodartham
tatvajnaih Kalpitakramah

Revealing Brahman through this method is called Upadesha

3 terms are important in this method
Sat trikale vidyamananm always existent
Asat never existent
Mithya dependent existence and has to depend on sat

Adhyaropa means Shruti accepting the existence of the world & talks about its origination, accepts varieties in the universe, accepts means and end & all the cosmic laws.

Then in the later portion the same Shruti now negates the existence of the world apavada
Since Shruti is accepting the existence of the world, world cannot be asat, and since it is negating it world cannot be sat either. Thus we derive that according to the Shruti world is Mithya

Mithya vastu does not have independent existence & requires a substratum. Since Shruti has negated the cosmos as Mithya there has to be  some vastu other than the cosmos and whatever is in it which is satyam as its substratum. That vastu is nothing but I - the observer - unnegateable badhasakshirupena I alone remain.
Mithya prapancha and satyam I are arrived by Adhyaropaapavadabhyam

Since Mithya has only dependent existence & therefore it is as good as nonexistent
Mithya prapancha is as good as nonexistent
So I the self am Nishprapancham atmatattvam

The benefit of this knowledge - that I am satyam & entire universe is Mithya - I get the knowledge that Mithya cannot affect satyam & so world cannot affect I the sat vastu

First chapter of the Upadesha kanda does Adhyaropa
Second chapter of Upadesha kanda does the apavada

In Adhyaropa world is accepted & divided into avyakrta or avyakta prapancha & vyakrta or vyakta prapancha - namarupakarmakrtam - unmanifest aspect of the cosmos & manifest aspect of the cosmos.

The vyakrta prapancha is subdivided further into sadhana prapancha & saadhya prapancha - means and ends.

First 3 sections or brahmana of the 1st chapter deal with means and ends detailed in the Veda & we find 3 different upasanas - ashwa Agni & prana upasanas. Later the end is discussed hiranyagarbha prapti or brahmaloka prapti

1st upasanas discusses a horse upasana
Svatantra upasana is a meditation is done independtly for some result
Karmanga upasana is a meditation done as part of a ritual & ritual alone is primary will give the phalam but the upasana here is a part of the ritual which provides an added benefit (karmanga)

Here ashwa upasana is a karmanga upasana for ashwamedha yaaga which is the highest type of yaaga or yagna. Here as part of the yaaga the ashwa or horse has to be meditated upon.
Only Kshatriyas have adhikaraa for ashwamedha yaaga.

Other Varnas ashwamedha yaaga phalam can be attained if they do ashwa upasana only.

Here ashwa is not meditated upon as a horse but we are supposed to visualize the world -in other words-  virat upasana.As per Anandagiri he should think of himself as the ashwa and do upasana.

The Upanishad details which part of virat is to be meditated upon on which part of the horse.
Purpose is to  expand the mind to visualize the Cosmos.

  Parts of the horse & corresponding parts of the cosmos are enumerated

Head : dawn
Eye : Sun
Prana : wind
Mouth : Agni
Body : Year
Back : heavens
Stomach : sky
Hoof : earth
Sides : primary directions
Ribs : secondary directions
Limbs : seasons
Joints : months & fort nights
Legs : days & nights
Bones : stars
Muscles : space
Undigested food : sand
Naadi : rivers
Muscles sides of the heart : mountains
Hair : trees & herbs
Front part  : rising sun
Back part : setting sun
Stretching pod the body  : Lightning
Shaking of body : Thunder
Urinating : rain
Speech : speech

Verse 2:
Purastat mahima : a golden cup
Paschaat mahima : silver cup
The day & night
Horse alone is the vehicle of devas Asuras gandharvas & humans
Origin of this horse is ocean samudra - ucchaishravas was borne of samudra mathanam

Horse has 2 meanings - horse & virat
Samudra is taken as ocean and as ishwara

Bhutani samutpadya dravanti asmin That from which the cosmos originates and resolves unto
Ocean is also called samudra as the rivers originate & resolve into
Bandhu - sthitikaranam

Hence ashwa is great
With this ashwa brahmananam ends
This upasana has to be combined with the next - Agni upasana

This post first appeared on SELF-KNOWLEDGE, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Brihadaranyaka Up : Upadesha Kanda


Subscribe to Self-knowledge

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription