Essence of Taittiriya Upanishad- Brahmananda Valli-Part-1A

Disclaimer: 

  • The article is purely based on my studies, my thoughts, my concept, my beliefs, my experiences and self realization.
  • ☆I found some link between modern science(Quantum mechanics) and teachings of ancient sages as mentioned in Vedanta, regarding Universe, Supreme Consciousness or the Ultimate truth , the Ultimate Reality whatever we say.
  • ☆ The term “MAN” wherever used in this entire text is intended to consider as “HUMAN” irrespective of gender differences.
  • ♡ Having gone through the Vedanta/ancient texts, commentaries, translated by different writers, translators, publishers on the same topic, I have tried my best to share the subject matter as I understood and convinced too. My intention is to reach to you with the topic that I found very useful for human lives. I am not good in English literature. Please give your valuable suggestions for the improvement and valuable inputs to make the text beneficial for mankind.
  • ☆ The Spiritual context is purely based on ancient sacred texts. Sanskrit slokas are taken from books and websites. There may be little variation in the translations and commentaries. I have shared my own views and explanations according to my concept gathered in the subject through experience and intuitions. There is no discrimination against any religion, race, cast or creed.
  • Your feedback will be highly appreciated. I am sure that the subject matter is highly logical and does not bring any conflict. Hope you will enjoy reading. Regards. NAMASTE.

Please read with patience to get the essence !!!

Introduction: 

This Part is known as Brahmananda Valli, second chapter of Taittiriya Upanishad. It has nine Anuvaka ( 9 sections)

The Taittiriya Upanishad is a part of the Krishna Yajur Veda and placed in the seventh position in the list of Ten Principal Upanishad. The Upanishad has three Chapters. First chapter of the Upanishad is Sheeksha Valli which gives the essence of the Karma Kanda of the Veda in terms of disciplines, rituals, meditations, values, code of conduct for daily life has been published in two parts. Sheeksha Valli: part-1A and Sheeksha Valli: part-1B.  

Our true nature is covered by the sheaths~[SHEATHE means KOSHA in Sanskrit ] known as “panchakosha” The Five Sheaths.

In this section we will discuss in details 1) about the five sheaths that surround our true essence, our true nature as described in the traditional Advaita Vedanta which uses a model to illustrate the successive layers of identification which obscure our real nature. and 2) ” What is Bliss”(True Joy)

Key Words:
panchakosha, Five sheathes, Brahmananda Valli, “Satyam jnanam anantam Brahman” AnnaMaya Kosha, PranaMaya Kosha, ManoMaya Kosha, VijnaMaya Kosha, AnandaMaya Kosha

” Brahmananda Valli-  “ब्रह्मानन्दवल्ली” : The Bliss that is Brahman”

Peace Mantra

ॐ स॒ह ना॑ववतु । स॒ह नौ॑ भुनक्तु । स॒ह वी॒र्यं॑ करवावहै । ते॒ज॒स्विना॒वधी॑तमस्तु॒ मा वि॑द्विषा॒वहै᳚ । ॐ शान्तिः॒ शान्तिः॒ शान्तिः॑ ॥

Anuvaka 1-2: 

The opening sentence of Taittiriya Upanishad , in “Brahmananda Valli” is “Satyam jnanam anantam Brahman” which literarily means the knower of Brahman attains the Supreme.

From this very Self (Brahman), sprang space, from space the wind, from the wind 🌬️ the fire, from the fire 🔥, the water 💦, from the water the earth 🌎, from the earth the herbs, from the herbs food, from food man. Thus man indeed is made up of the sap of food. From food arise the creatures, which so ever live on earth. Through food do they live and to food they return. Of all elements, indeed food is the best. Therefore food is known as best medicine also. He who has no form assumed many forms; He who is infinite appeared finite; He who is everywhere assumed a place; He who is wisdom, caused ignorance; He who is real, caused unreality. It is HE ,who has become everything. It is HE who gives reality to all. Before the universe was created, Brahman existed as unmanifest.

Anuvaka-2-5: Five sheathes (“panchakosha“)

According to Taittiriya Upanishad, our true essence is covered by these sheathes in the same way that a scabbard encloses the blade of sword. Self is hidden behind the mask of the personality. The second chapter of Taittiriya Upanishad “BrahmanandaValli” describes five sheathes (“panchakosha“). Concept of whole of this Five Sheaths model is highly symbolic and metaphorical. Five sheaths are as follows:- 1) AnnaMaya Kosha 2) PranaMaya Kosha 3) ManoMaya Kosha 4) VijnaMaya Kosha 5) AnandaMaya Kosha

The First Layer:  “AnnaMaya Kosha” :

From food (food= anna) arise all the creatures, which live on earth, and through food alone do they live, and finally they return to the food in the end. The first layer, the grossest one with which we first identify ourselves as the body, is made up of food and known as AnnaMaya Kosha” (অন্নময়কোষ). The body takes birth, grows old, dies and decays back into the food from which it was produced. This has nothing to do with the real “Self”. This body alone is not the “Self”.

The Second layer: “PranaMaya Kosha” :

This is vital life force for which the body is animated and actions are performed. This layer is made of “Prana” the breathe which known as “PranaMaya Kosha”(প্রানময়কোষ). We are multi-layered being, composed of physical body, subtle body and causal body . The first mentioned sheath, the AnnaMaya Kosha is permeated by four Koshas. The next layer the Second layer is “PranaMaya Kosha”. The AnnaMaya Kosha is the effect of Prana. PranaMaya Kosha controls AnnaMaya Kosha. But this is not the real Self.

"Prana" is vital energy and invisible to us. It is like Electric Power ,which gives life to the machines and machines run, animates.  Same way this vital energy "Prana" animates us, the live bodies.  It runs the 1st layer the Physical body. This prana is external to further subtler energy which is Mind. The mind is so subtle and transparent, that  mind can reflect consciousness. 

Prana (Breath) is verily the life of beings and hence it is called the Universal life. It is matter of common knowledge that life becomes possible only so long as the vital energy keeps the different organs of the organism alive. ” Though this vital life force makes the body animated and actions are performed but this is not the Real Self. This Prana Maya Kosha separates life from death once the “Prana” leaves the body. This sheath is composed of five Pranas (prana, Udana, vyana, samana, apana). These pranas have their own importance to operate The Body perfectly. Through practice of Pranayama (pranayama is breathing exercise, part of Yoga as described in the ancient texts) , we can transcend to the next layer “ManoMaya Kosha”(মনোময়কোষ). But this is not the real Self.

The Third layer: – “ManoMaya Kosha”(মনোময়কোষ):

This Self is embodied in the previous one (Prana) which is the mental sheath consisting of the thinking mind.  This MIND (Manas” মন”) and the organs of perception is known as “ManoMaya Kosha”(মনোময়কোষ). This is the sheath which limits us and blocks us to go beyond. This Kosha is powerful, because bondage and liberation depends on the mind. It pervades the PranaMaya Kosha. Basically, this body is consisting of Mind through which we perceive the world via five agents (sense organs).Mind functions in three levels. 1. Conscious mind 2. Subconscious mind 3. Unconscious mind. All the above three minds are subsets of Universal mind. Human being is stuck in this sheath as always people are abducted by the mind (monkey mind). In the Patanjali yoga sutras 1.2 ” yoga is the stilling of modifications of mind’~” “yogas chitta Vritti nirodaha”. When the fluctuations of mind are stilled, our true nature is revealed.  We have then enough clarity to perceive the Self beyond the mind. Through pranayama and pratyahara (mental withdrawal of senses) we can pervade to the next layer. But this is not the real Self.

The Fourth layer:- VijnaMaya Kosha (বিজ্ঞানময় কোষ):

Beyond Mind there are higher levels of mind responsible for discriminations, recognizing the truth and the false, real or unreal. In silence it knows without needing to think. This is intellect (buddhi). This intellectual sheath is known as “VijnaMaya Kosha”.

VijnaMaya Kosha (~Buddhi) Sheath of WISDOM. This is also a part of subtle body. When subtle body is disciplined, the physical body also becomes very healthy and strong. The mind which is ruler of the subtle body gets flattened by worldly affections, attachments, desires etc. Through practice mind comes under control by this sheath. This self is embodied in the previous one that is ManoMaya Kosha. But this is not the real Self.

I AM (the Real Self) the witness of this sheath. Mind is mostly engaged with the first layer which is nothing but the body, the false identity with ego. It has a shape, size, name, fame everything.  Very much visible to Self, to inner Self, outer Self and to others of this samsara (সংসার). • The unwavering peace we seek is realized by experiencing the unlimited and eternal Peace that is our True Identity. Though obscured by ignorance, it exists within us, waiting to be revealed. This experience is enlightenment—Self-realization.{Experience to be gained with the help of 4th layer } • Self-realization can be attained by mastering the mind. Just as only a clean, undistorted mirror can reflect our face as it truly is, only a one-pointed and tranquil mind can part the veils of ignorance to reveal and reflect the Self. The effort to free the mind from the limitations of ignorance is a drama that has been repeated since time immemorial. But if the mind leads one towards the VijnaMaya Kosha by pervading itself, then what will happen?  In silence it knows without needing to think which is intellect (Buddhi~বুদ্ধি).  According to Vedanta, the study of scriptures helps in realization of truth, when one is equipped with necessary fourfold discipline:- 1. Discrimination between real (nitya নিত্য~ eternal) and unreal (anitya অনিত্য~transitory). 2. Renunciation of the unreal (Viraga~বৈরাগ্য) 3. Six fold qualities. 4. Longing for liberation (Moksha ~মোক্ষ প্রাপ্তি to escape from the cycle of births and deaths) The word “Self” is generally meant to “Atman” (soul). But the Sanskrit word is “Atman”, which cannot be translated.  This Atman is Deathless, Birthless, Eternal and Real for every individual.  It is the unchanging reality (sat ~সৎ) behind the changing body, sense organs, mind and ego. It is Spirit, which is pure Consciousness (চিত্) and is unaffected by time-space causality. It is infinite and it is ONE without the second. As the unchanging reality in the individual is known as Atman, same way the unchanging reality in the Universe is known as “BRAHMAN”. Vedanta says This BRAHMAN and ATMAN are one and the same. VijnaMaya Kosha consists of the intellect in conjunction with the five organs of knowledge (জ্ঞানেন্দ্রিয়).

The Fifth layer:-  “AnandaMaya Kosha” :-

This Self is embodied in the previous one. The self-consisting of Bliss and is filled by it. Here is the presence of most profound peace and silence when mind becomes no mind.  This is State of Bliss Let us recall the first sloka (1ST verse) of “Taittiriya Upanishad” second chapter which is known as “Brahmananda Valli”. Quoting the sentence again: —

“Satyam jnanam anantam Brahman” which means “The knower of “BRAHMAN” attains the Supreme”.  BRAHMAN is Truth, knowledge and Infinity, which is our own very Self, the Atman.  Brahman is not an object of knowledge.  It is always witnessing subject. (দ্রষ্টা~The Seer). In the second chapter of Taittiriya Upanishad, there is the definition of “Human JOY”. One unit of Human Joy. Will write that in my next blog very shortly. The Self is infinite. There is in fact no multiplicity or plurality in that ONE, Homogeneous Being, the Supreme Being and the Ultimate. Because of superimposition and our ignorance, we have forgotten our true nature.  It alone exists as the illuminator. This “Atman” the Real “Self” in its glorious existence, reveals its own Sat-Chit nature which is AnandaMaya. That is why this Sheath is referred to “AnandaMaya Kosha”. Actually, this Five Sheath model as mentioned in Taittiriya Upanishad is just an idea for understanding the different levels of the Self. The eternal nature of Self is Bliss only.

 Anuvaka-6: Who goes There- the Ignorant or the Knower?

Now the question arise in the mind of seeker ( ” atha atah anuprashnaah”):  Does the ignorant after living this world reach There or does the knower reach There? There means the AnandaMaya Kosha. The answer is : The Knower reach there. Knower reach Brahman. He who denies Brahman, denies Himself. He who affirms it, affirms Himself.  

Brahman is the very cause of creation:

Brahman thought: I would be many; I will procreate. And in the Heat of His meditation created everything; creating everything He entered into everything; entering into everything He took shape yet remained shapeless; took limits yet remained limitless; made His home, yet remained homeless; created knowledge and ignorance; reality, unreality; became everything; therefore everything is reality. In the beginning there was no creation; then creation came. He created Himself out of Himself. Hence He is called Self-Creator. 

Conclusion:

The Five sheaths model: Pancha Kosha Tatwa has been used to simplify the Advaita Vedanta to reach the Goal The Self Realization.

At the end we find Brahman which Rishi is driving us to reach through the process of negation. By negating the koshas from AnnaMaya to AnandaMaya, we enter into limitless realm of Brahman, the ultimate Goal. As each Kosha is Transcended we enter into subtler than the previous one. Finally we get back to beginning of Taittiriya Upanishad book II, sloka 1The knower of Brahman reaches the Supreme”.

According to Vedanta, Brahman is the Truth, the Knowledge and the endless Being. He who knows what is hidden in the cave in the highest heaven, realizes all his desires along with the Omniscient Brahman.

Recommended readings:

  1. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.**
  2. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit** Swami and W.B.Yeats
  3. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.**
  4. Commentary of Taittiriya Upanishad: By Swami Krishnananda.
  5. Taittiriya Upanishad By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
  6. EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
  7. THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary By Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
  8. A-U-M Awakening to Reality : By Dennis Waite***
  9. Information available on internet.

It is my sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me. Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is : arun7663@gmail.com

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Arun Singha

Retired from AIRPORTS AUTHORITY OF INDIA as Dy. General Manager (CNS).BSc(Mathematics Honors). Age 60years. Studying ancient Indian Philosophy along with modern physics and modern Biology. Follow Dr. Bruce H Lipton, Dr. JOE DISPENJA , Gregg Braden and Swami Sarvapriyananda among others. Writing consolidated articles on Upanishads, Advaita Vedanta and other ancient Indian Texts. Wish to work for the society to help people through personal guidance, motivation. Self has work experience of 36 years in the field of Air Navigation Service at different Airports in India. Gained vast experience in handling man and machine. Would like to reach to the people to share my life experiences, how I had overcome great challenges and difficulties at different times and positions.

6 thoughts on “Essence of Taittiriya Upanishad- Brahmananda Valli-Part-1A”

  1. The fact that man is made up of the sap of food is an eye opener. The concept of five sheaths is very deep and meaningful too. Thanks for sharing 🙏

    1. Thank you so much for your interest on our ancient Texts. These Texts have very deep inner meaning. I found enormous peace and happiness. So I shared.
      Regards 😊🙏

  2. Sir, saying that we are Nirguna Brahman is easy and in order to relate to Vyavaharika reasons it is significant to relate with external paraphernalia and not the attribute less satchitananda Aatma. So we need both Nirguna and Saguna Brahman to comprehend and arrive at the state. What is you take on this?

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