Among the popular ten Upanisads, the Taittiriya of Krishna Yajurveda occupies a very important position in the teaching sampradaya of advaita vedanta. This is so because, Bhagawan Vyasa had considered only this upanisad for writing the first two sutras of his important book of analysis of Vedanta sastra known as brahmasutras.
The bhashya of Sankara also deals with the vakya "satyam jnanam anantam brahma" very elaborately; perhaps you get the whole teaching of the vastu in the bhashya of this vakya. Even the first chapter which deals with prayers and upasanas besides values and attitudes occupies a very important place in the seeking life of a mumukshu. The daily prayer in the sampradaya has as many as five mantras (1) sanno mitra sam varunaha (2) yaschandasam (3) aham vrksasya reriva (4) sanno mitra sam varunaha and (5) Saha navavatu from this chapter. The famous valedictory advice of the teacher "satyam vada, dharmam cara" is also from the first section of this upanisad. That this upanisad occupies a central place in the scheme of study of Vedanta is recognised by all scholars in the sampradaya.
Smt Sarojini Varadarajan, a very keen student of vedanta has prepared the first volume of this important upanisad with a lot of effort and dedication. I congratulate her for her contribution and request her to continue with this kind of effort of producing meaningful book after book.
Smt. Divyajnana Sarojini Varadarajan has been a keen student of vedanta for several years. As a disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswathi, she attended the Vedanta courses conducted at Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Coimbatore. She has been listening to my classes also directly or through audio recordings. She has the habit of taking notes and sharing them with other seekers. She has already published Mundakopanisad and Kathopanisad along with the bhasyam based on my Mundakopanisad and Kathopanisad bhasyam classes. I am very happy to know that she is getting the Tatittiriua upanisad published along with the bhasyam in two volumes based on Pujya Swamiji's and my Tatitiriya bhasyam classes.
I congratulate Smt. Sarojini Varadarjan for her great effort. May this book reach the hands of many deserving students of Vedanta.
By the grace of two great gurus, Pujya Swamiji Dayananda Saraswati and Sri Pararnarthananda Swamiji, this challenging commentary of the Taittiriya upanisad has been attempted at. The truth of one's own true nature is unfolded by them with so much clarity in their teaching of this upanisad, that bound by gratitude to them, this attempt to reach their teaching to others has been made through this book.
Brahman is the true nature of you, me and everyone and every other thing in the creation. However one does not know it, nor is it easy to know it. Means of knowledge like perception etc, nor logic can prove it. So how does one come to the above conclusion? Because the Veda, through its teaching makes us know it. The Veda in its karmakanda portion gives one the means of gaining so many desirable things in this world including svarga, thus making one temporarily happy. Now the very same Veda says in its last part, in the jnanakanda or the upanisads, that it is time now to learn the truth, to know one's real nature which will give one absolute and permanent happiness, unlike the impermanent flashes of happiness one has been having through the experience of gaining the desired objects, only soon to be followed by sorrow when it is lost, or to be followed by fear that the happiness might be short lived, or that what is gained might get lost. Great will it not be, if one can gain happiness, without the above problems! And that is not impossible.
The Veda with compassion, understanding that we, who are submerged in the worldly benefits and craving for success and happiness, are not able to see the truth, comes to our help. Like a mother, who lovingly and carefully catching hold of the child's hand, helps the child to put the first step and then gradually helps the child to walk to the destination, and observes the child face glow with happiness; in the same manner Veda takes us to our destination of absolute and permanent happiness called moksa, step by step, through its teaching of dharma, karma, and upasanas in its first chapter, and thus prepares the mind and kindles in one, the desire, as well as the confidence to know one's true nature, which is none other than atma or Brahman.
The Taittirrya upanisad thus having prepared the candidate for brahmajnanam in the first chapter known as siksavalli, in the second chapter known as brahmanandavalli, it not only gives the indirect definition of Brahman, but the direct definition of Brahman as satyarn jnanam anantarh brahma and makes us recognise the satyam jnanam anantarh brahma is non- different from one's atma, Once one comes to know it, one feels achieved, fearless and utterly satisfied, in short complete, and absolutely happy. However this being a very subtle subject matter, it needs a lot of explanation, before it gets clarified in one's gross mind. So Sankaracarya writes a voluminous commentary. Though the upanisad itself is not a very big one, it becomes thus voluminous.
The Taittiriya upanisad has three chapters, which are being made into two volumes. This first volume covers the first chapter of the Taittirtya upanisad, called siksavalli and the fist anuvaka of brahmanandavalli which expounds profoundly what is sat yam jnanam- anantam brahma.
Sankaracarya's introductory bhasyam to this upanisad, known as Sambandha-bhasyam, as it is of great importance and equally difficult to understand, a very elaborate introduction for it has been given. And then, each anuvaka is started, with a preliminary introduction, so that one has an idea of the subject matter that is going to be explained or discussed by the upanisad in that section. Thereafter this upanisad being in prose form, and not in a mantra form, if the anuvaka is too big, one paragraph at a time is taken and given the transliteration, anvaya, word by word meaning and the summary of that paragraph, as given by Sri Paramarthananda Swamiji. It is followed by Sankaracarya's commentary, again only for that paragraph. In the commentary, word-to-word translation has been given; to make the commentary reader easy. While explaining the meaning of the bhashya words, the Sanskrit words are given in the bracket after their english translation. In order to closely convey the specific Sanskrit words for the english translation, the compound words have been split and the appropriate word shown in bracket for the english translation. While doing so, the Sanskrit words are not shown as they will appear in vigraha, resolution. Since the purpose is to communicate, compromise of grammar rules have been done. I hope the readers will understand the intent and bear with it.
Besides Sankaracarya’s commentary, as still lot of explanation and notes are needed to understand the subtle teaching of this upanisad, certain explanations are added in the bhasyam, in the form of notes and also in the form of bracketed explanation.
The cover of the book has also a message to convey. It is a visualisation of Brahman as onkara pervading the whole universe in the form of panca bhutas. In the first book Mundakopanisad, the all pervasiveness of onkara in the first visible panca bhuta, agni was subtly pictured and in the second book kathopanisad the all pervasiveness of onkara in the second visible panca bhuta, water was illustrated. Now in this first volume of Taittiriya upanisad the all pervasiveness of onkara in the third visible panca bhuta, earth has been visualised.
My first and foremost thanks goes to my gurus, Pujya Swamiji Dayananda Saraswati and Sri Paramarthananda Swamiji, for opening my eyes to the one and only truth. I thank for the encouragement given by Swami Saksakrtananda Saraswati in all ways possible and to Swami Sankarananda Saraswati, Br. Pranipata Chaitanya and last but not least to my enthusiastic readers who have been asking, when and what the next book will be. My thanks also to Ms. Ambika for helping me in the final stages of formating the book and specially for giving a beautiful form to my visualisation of the cover.
I dedicate this book to all who supported me and encouraged me in this endeavor of mine, and in particular to my grandfather who blessed me with the name, Divyajnana devi at my birth.
The Taittiriya upanisad belongs to Krsna-Yajur Veda. Taittiriya has got three portions, Taittiriya samhita, Taittiriya brahmana and Taittiriya aranyaka, all of which are fortunately available today. In Taittiriya aranyakam there are ten chapters, among which the first six deal with upasana and the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth chapters, form the Taittiriya upanisad. These seventh, eighth and ninth chapters are known as Siksavalli, Brahmavalli, and Bhrguvalli respectively of the Taittiriya upanisad. The tenth and last chapter is Narayanavalli, or otherwise called Mahanarayanopansad, which is usually not included in Taittiriya upanisad, but is treated as a separate upanisad. Taittiriya upanisad is a prose work.
This upanisad has a prime place in vedanta sastra as it explains three important factors in its three chapters known as vallis.
1. The first factor is that, in its first valli known as siksavalli the upanisad prepares one's mind to be able to grasp the truth that the upanisad is going to unfold larer on. Ignorance of the fact is the basis for committing a mistake, but a confused mind will not have the clarity to understand a fact as a fact. In this context, Pujya Swamiji Dayananda Saraswati says every person has an idea of himself, mostly an erroneous one and he does not bother to inquire into it with the help of a proper guru and sastra. Without the explanation of the sastra by a guru, it cannot be properly understood. Otherwise the sastra can be quoted out of context and misunderstood. If one wants to learn about the one and only truth, Brahman, one should have certain knowledge of Sanskrit words, their direct and indirect meaning and Sanskrit grammar. And then one should prepare one's mind with sadhana catustaya sampatti through upasanas and through leading a value based life. Usually upanisads do not bother to prepare the mind, as they take it for granted that when one comes to the learning of brahmajnanam in the upanisads, that one would have been mentally prepared and capable of understanding it, because the jnanakanda of the upanisads comes only after karmakanda and upasanakanda of the Veda are completed, which are supposed to prepare the mind for jnanakanda.
But in addition to what has gone before, the Taittiriya upanisad however itself takes upon the task of preparing the student. Since the revelation of truth is through words, the upanisad first makes sure that one has a correct understanding of the Sanskrit words and their pronounciation, by giving the right factors necessary for it in the first chapter, Siksavalli. This valli not only prepares us language wise, but also prepares our minds to receive brahmavidya by giving us various values, prayers, and meditations (upasanas) that are preparatory steps for gaining the knowledge of Brahman. That is why this valli, even though it does not talk about brahmavidya, is considered as a very important valli for the students of vedanta.
2. The second and most important factor is that the upanisad in its second valli, known as Brahmavalli or Brahmanandavalli, gives the laksanam of Brahman. In fact this upanisad gives both the svarupa laksana as well as the tatastha-laksana of Brahman. Laksana is that by which something is pointed out or defined. Among the two laksanas, the svarupa-laksana gives the unique nature or exclusive characteristics of the object, which no other object has, thereby distinguishing it from everything else. It excludes everything else and only reveal what is indicated or targeted. On the other hand tatasthalaksana does not reveal the nature of an object, but is still is able to distinguish the object. Thus svarupalaksana defines Brahman directly by giving the very nature of Brahman, while tatasthalaksana defines Brahman indirectly or by implication. Tatasthalaksana is an incidental definition. It is not the nature of Brahman, but is useful to define it. Both the laksanas of Brahman are given in this second chapter, where Brahman is revealed directly by svarupalaksana as 'satyam jnanam anantam brahma', the knowledge of which leads one to absolute happiness, moksa, thus freeing the person from the age old strong shackles of samsara. It also reveals Brahman indirectly by incidentally giving the tatasthalaksana of Brahman, which is being the cause of the world. If it is said Brahman is the cause of the universe and if the causal status is found in Brahman, then the defining laksana becomes svarupalaksana. But the causal status is not found in Brahman, yet, without undergoing any change, Brahman is present in every object of the world as its cause. In other words the cause is found in the effect, but the effect is not found in the cause. The cause pervades the effect. How this is possible is going to be explained in this valli.
3. Lastly in the last valli, known as Bhrguvalli, the whole teaching is summed up, by pointing out the greatness of the teaching.
Thus this upanisad is supposed to be the most complete upanisad, because in other upanisads Brahman is revealed by implication, but here he is revealed straight- away through words. Vyasa in his analytical book on vedanta sastra, a book to be reckoned with, known as Brahmasutras, has taken this upanisad for analysis in both the first and second sutras that introduce the definition of Brahman. Sankaracarya also pays special attention in writing his commentary of this upanisad. Therefore Sankaracarya' s bhasyam of this upanisad is also considered to be very significant. Sankaracarya does not write dhyana slokas for all of his commentaries. But for this upanisad he writes three dhyana slokas indicating that he considers this a very significant upanisad. Besides being a prayer these three slokas, capture the very subject matter of the upanisad by bringing in both svarupa Iaksanam as well as the tatasthalaksanam of Brahman.
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