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Aitareya Upanishad

The Aitareya Upanishad expounds that the first cause of being is Consciousness and that Consciousness is Brahma Himself. This is arguably the precursor to the scientific pursuit of all humankind. What is 'creation' in Occidental religion and literature is 'srshtee' to the Oriental mind: a projection of something ongoing, this supereme Consciousness, as opposed to the springing up of something from nothing. The Aitareya Upanishad discusses the projection and process of the universe in terms that have fascinated the deepest intellects of the Orient since it was written.


Q1. What is written in Aitareya Upanishad?


The Aitareya Upanishad forms part of the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rigveda. It is divided into five sections (Khandas). If the Peace-Chant be counted as a section, the sections become six, and by such counting, this Upanishad is sometimes called ‘Atmashatka’, i.e., six-sectioned dissertation on the Atman. It is divided into three chapters. The first contains three sections, the second and the last, one section each. The Upanishad derives its name from its author Mahidasa Aitareya, the son of Itara.


Q2. How does Taittiriya Upanishad view the mind?


The true nature of the mind cannot be known either by words or by the mind itself. The mind which seeks to know the mind is only a mental state (vritti). Hence the mind remains unknown to the mind. The mind is, in essence, one with the Cosmic Mind, or Hiranyagarbha (the first manifestation of Saguna Brahman), who is the highest manifestation of Brahman in the relative world. That is why it is said that he who contemplates the sheath of the mind as Brahman has nothing to be afraid of; he attains the World of Hiranyagarbha.


Q3. What is Atman?


Atman is the first principle or the first cause. It is the only reality. It is from the root which means ‘to obtain’, ‘to eat’, ‘to enjoy’ or ‘to pervade all’. The Atman is the highest, all wise, all powerful, free from all characteristics of Samsara, such as hunger, delusion, sorrow, etc. He is eternal, pure, intelligent and free. He is birthless, undecaying, ageless, immortal, fearless and secondless.


Q4. What is the meaning of Aitareya?


It describes, in symbolical language, the creation of the universe. It deals with the Atman as the only Reality. It treats of evolution through hunger and thirst, of food, of the entrance of the Self into the body. It deals with the conception and the three births of man.


Q5. Who wrote Aitareya Brahmana?


This work, according to the tradition, is ascribed to Mahidasa Aitareya. He earliest of its philosophers was Mahidasa Aitareya.  He is revered as the forerunner who showed the way to thinkers that succeeded him. Mahidasa is therefore recognized as the Father of Indian Philosophy, though many regard Aghamarshana as the first one to clearly state and put forward a definite explanation of his belief that Samvatsara (year), time-principle which governs life and death was the essence of all things.