Be Xenial- Your Guest is You: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is a prinicipal Upanishad. Its name means great wilderness. This Upanishad gives a human aspect to the Creator. He was fearful when he created himself. Then he thought to himself, Why am I fearful? It’s only me here. So even today we are fearful only of others. With depression on the rise, this might need to be updated.
Then, the Creator was lonely. So he grew in size to that a man and woman embracing and then split in two. That’s how we get the concept of husband and wife being two halves of a whole.
The woman was reluctant to unite with the Creator, because she had come from him. So he transformed himself in a bull and her in a cow. From their union came cattle. Similarly, he created the entire animal kingdom.
Having created all this, he realized that he was everything- Brahman.
Are the Gods our Wellwishers?
Interestingly, now the Upanishad says that whoever knows himself becomes Brahman. So, if a man worships a god thinking he is separate from the deity, he does not know his reality.
He is like an animal to the gods, serving them. So the gods are not keen that we should know that we too are Brahman, because then they will lose a servant.
Not This, Not This
Neti, neti, or not this, not this; has been a phrase that has fascinated me for a while. Brahman is neti, neti, says this Upanishad. Only we reject the body and worldly experiences can we find what remains, the Self.
Then, the philosopher Yajnavalkya tells his wife Maitreyi, you should not love your spouse because he is your spouse, but because of the self, which in its true nature, is part of the Supreme Self. Similarly for children, other beings, the world, even gods. There should be no sense of separation between the self and everything else.
Then there’s a lovely metaphor- just like the different drum beats make most sense when they’re played one after another in a tune rather than separately, similarly you can’t perceive objects as separate whether in the waking or dream states unless you see them as part of Pure Intelligence.
Another brilliant analogy- like when we drop salt in water and then taste salt in it, Pure Intelligence permeates all of reality. After our self unites with this it has no memory of being a separate self.
Yajnavalkya and the king discuss light. The king asks him what serves as light for man? Yajnavalkya replies sun. If the sun is not there, the moon. If the moon isn’t, then fire. With no fire, speech, since we can go in the direction from where we hear a sound coming. If there’s no speech, the self is our light.
The organs are personified. Just like when a king departs the village leaders gather, so do the organs when the prana leaves the body.
This Upanishad lives up to its name- it’s truly a forest!