1) Athatho Brahma Jijnasa
Translation: Hence (is to be undertaken) thereafter a deliberation on Brahman (Reality)
The word atha (thereafter) is used in the sense of “sequence” and not “commencement” – A wish follows spontaneously from the knowledge that something can be acquired by effort and it may or may not lead to a desirable result. All efforts are limited to the realm of change (finitude) since they are conditioned by time, space and object. Deliberation on reality and its goal which is infinite – if it were to be achieved by human effort, would also be confined to the realm of time and space and hence finite, which is absurd. Therefore the word (atha) thereafter suggests “sequence”.
Brahma Jijnasa means a deliberation on Brahman (Reality).The word Brahman, comes from the root- ‘Brmh’ which means growth and ‘man’ which means without limitation, the word real and unreal are only used with respect to its characteristics – such as, real is that which is beyond the realm of change (time, space and object) and unreal is that which is limited to finitude. Change is the primary observation at the realm of finitude, there cannot be any change in the infinity – for change (finitude) to happen, there must be an immutable (infinite) substratum to support it. Just as the human mind is the substratum for the play of dreams, exhausting his subconscious mind before he can enter the realm of deep sleep. The Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Self must be the substratum for the projection of the dream which we call the waking Universe. The existence of THIS self is well known to us since nobody feels “I do not exist” at any period of time or on any plane of consciousness.
The materialists recognize the body alone as the self and possessed of sentience, others say it is the mind, some say there is a God who is different from the soul and who is all powerful. Thus there are very many different schools of thoughts who hold opposite views. If one accepts anyone of these without examination one is liable to be deflected from the reality and come to grief and fear. Therefore starting with the presentation of a deliberation on Reality (Brahman) here is commenced an ascertainment of the meaning of the Upanishads, for the purpose of leading one to reality (through knowledge).
2) Janmadasya Yatha
That (is Brahman – The supreme Reality) from which (are derived) the birth, continuance, dissolution of the universe
The meaning of the whole aphorism is: That omniscient omnipotent source must be Brahman from which occurs the birth, continuance, and dissolution of the universe that is manifested through name and form, that is associated with diverse agents and experiences, that provides support for actions and result, having well-regulated space, time and causation.
The universe cannot possibly be thought of having its origin etc from any other factor eg: primordial nature – which is insentient or from atoms, or non-existence. Nor can it originate spontaneously for, in this universe, people (desirous of products) have to depend on specific space, time and causation. Those who stand by God as the cause (eg: the logicians) rely on this very inference alone (The inference presented in the earlier sentence) for establishing the existence of God as distinguished from a transmigrating soul.
Brahman’s relation with anything cannot be grasped, it being outside the range of sense perception. The sense naturally comprehends objects but not Brahman. Even when the mere effect related to (i.e universe) is cognized, one cannot ascertain whether it is related to Brahman (as its cause) or to something else. Therefore, the aphorism “Janmadsaya Yatha (That from which..)” is not meant to present an inference.
For what is it then? It is for presenting an Upanishadic text: Starting with, “Bhrgu, the well-known son of Varuna approached his father Varuna with the request, ‘O revered sir, teach me Brahman’,” the Taittiriya Upanishad states, “Seek to know that from which all these beings take birth, that by which they live after being born, that towards which they proceed and into which they merge; that is Brahman” (Tai. III.i).