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Kena Upanisad

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Item Code: NAD816
Author: Anirvan and Gautam Dharmapal
Publisher: Akshara Prakashan, Ahmedabad
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9788188643387
Pages: 246
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 540 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

Kena Upanisad is the first volume of our Shri Anirvan Upanisad Series. It is the English translation of the third volume of the Upanisad Prasanga Series, written in BangIa by Shri Anirvan and published by the Burdwan University.

Kena. Upanisad consists of the four sections of the fourth chapter of the Jaiminiya Brahrnana Upanisad of the Samaveda, It begins directly with Brahman as its subject matter and tells us in first two parts how it is impossible to know or attain Brahman by our ordinary senses including mind. To realize Brahman we have to open ourselves to higher intuitive levels of mind. In the third and fourth parts, the Upanisad beautifully speaks about the unknowable Brahman and about the subjective and objective ways of its realization through an allegorical story about Gods led by Indra on one side and Yaksha and Uma Haimvati on the other. Brahman has to be meditated upon and realized as "Tad Vanam" - "That most Delightful Dear One".


About the Author

Shri Anirvan was born on July 8, 1896 in the town of Mymensingh (now in Bangladesh). At the age of eleven he knew the Astadhyayi of Panini by heart and daily recited a chapter from the Gita. He went for his college studies to Dhaka and later on to Calcutta. After completing his studies, Sri Anirvan took Sanyasa and became Nirvanananda Saraswati. But a few years later he dropped the ochre robes and changed his name to Anirvan, by which name he became known to the world at large.

Between 1930 and 1942, he lived with a friend at Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi and Ranchi. Later on, he moved to Lohaghat in Almora where Madame Lizelle Reymond, a Swiss lady, spiritual seeker joined him and literally took him to the West through her books. Shri Anirvan moved to Shillong in Assam and finally to Calcutta in 1965. He fell ill in July 1971 and passed away on 31 May, 1978, at the age of 82.

His first book was a Bengali translation of Sri Aurobindos The Life Divine which was published in 2 vols. during 1948-5 J. But the centre of his studies was the Vedas on which subject he acquired a rare mastery over the years. His great work, Veda Mimamsa, was published in 3 vols. in 1961, 1965 and 1970. Meanwhile, several other works on the Upanisads, the Gita, Vedanta and Yoga had also been published.


General Introduction

Upanisads are also called 'Vedanta', which means the end of Vedas. End means the last portion or the last exegesis. Upanisads are called Vedanta in both these senses.

Mantra and Brahrnana together are called Vedas. The Mantras i.e. the Samhita portion is the oldest part and the original base of the Vedas. The spiritual experiences of the Rsis and the secrets of their Sadhana have been elaborated in the Brahmanas, Brahrnanas consist of three parts=-Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanisad. There is a continuity amongst these three parts. They are so much intermixed-one with the other-that at times it is difficult to ascertain (indicate) where one ends and the other begins. It proves that the whole of the Veda is a vehicle of an integral and whole Idea or Ideal and one part of it is not a protest or a negation of the other. The experience that is intuitive in the Mantra portion is elucidated rationally or intelligently in the Upanisads. In this way, Upanisads are truly the Vedanta, both as the last portion of the Vedas as well as the final or last exegesis of the Vedas.

Just as Vedanta is the end or final exegesis of Vedism (Vedavada), so is 'Siddhanta' the final elucidation of the experiences of the Siddhas. Propounders of Vedanta were 'Rsis', that of Siddhanta were 'Munis'. We find in Cita, "Fore- most amongst the Siddhas is Kapil Muni".' The Siinkhya pro- pounded by Kapil is one of the oldest Indian philosophies- it is 'Muni-dhara-c-the Muni tradition or Tarka Prasthan- the way of the Rationalist. Vedanta on the other hand is Rsi-dhara'-the Rsi tradition or Mimamsa Prasthan-the way of the exegetists. In one Sadharui, one looks within or is introvert, whereas the other looks outwards or is extrovert. The Muni dives within and sees himself as the Arman; the Rsi keeps his eyes wide open and sees gods or Brahman everywhere. It is this Rsi again who proclaims loudly, 'The Purusa there and there, He am I"; 'The Purusa who is in me and the Purusa who is in that Sun, the Two are One indeed.

In this way beginning their pilgrimage from two different viewpoints or different angles, the Vedanta and the Siddhanta both merge in one Integral Realisation of the Supreme Truth. We see in the older Upanisads these broad and vast flashes of Truth like the Sun shining in the blue skies.

These flashes of Truth are the True meaning of the Vedas, of which Upanisads are the end. Just as Vedanta and Siddhanta are complimentary to one-another, so in Vedanta or Vedism Jnanakhanda (knowledge portion) and Karrnakhanda (works portion) too are complimentary to one another. Pure Brahmanas are the upholders of Karmakhanda i.e. the portion related to action-works i.e. sacrifices and the rituals necessary for it; whereas Upanisads are the upholders of the knowledge portion. Ara1J-yakas are in between the two. It is but natural that works and knowledge are complementary and go together. Desire or will is the driving force behind all works. Behind will or desire is the knowledge of the goal and its goading. The goal of Vedic action-works is some abnormal, other worldly attainment which is intelligible but extrasensory, something like Immortality, Vast Light, Great Illumination, Bliss or Union with the Divine. As a result of action-works some such thing becomes very clear and evident in one's consciousness. From Brahrnana to Upanisads we see the amplification of the Oita's dictum. "All action-works end in knowledge. Upanisads are part and parcel of the Brahmanas, not their opponents.

The true meaning of the word 'Brahrnana' is the Dialogue or Discussion of the believers or followers of Brahman, i.e. the Quest or Enquiry; all round thinking and the conclusions arrived at regarding 'Brahman'. And in the Veda 'Brahman' means the Inspired Divine Word or Mantra that is revealed in the hearts of the Rsis because of the explosion and expansion of their consciousness. It has its bearing on both knowledge and works. As an example we can mention the 'Hirnyagarbha Sukta'" of Rgveda. In its refrain we have "Kasmai devaya havisha Vidhem"-who is the god, toward whom we will move forward and dedicate our offerings. In the first three foots of the mantra, the referred God is introduced. Here the offering and moving toward god is the work and the introductive passage is knowledge. Work is done for the sake of knowledge (and attainment). The questioning is also a part of the mantra. Questioning-Enquiry is necessary for works as well as knowledge. The two are complimentary. There is no difference whatsoever between those who carry on dialogue about Brahman in Brahrnanas or in Upanisads. The hypothesis of the Western scholars that the spirit of enquiry, of questioning has suddenly appeared all of a sudden during the Upanisadic period as a result of aversion towards sacrifices is baseless. The performance of knowledge- oriented works or Rituals have always continued in our country, in spite of the great opposition of powerful heretic Arya sects-the non-believers in God or Sacrifice ('a-deva, a-yagna'). We find criticism of ignorant works even in the Vedas. There are indications as to how to trans- form sacrifices of things into sacrifices of knowledge. We see detailed discussion about it in the beginning of the older Upanisads.



Kena Upanisad is included in Sarnaveda. Sarnan means' Suar' or 'Sura', i.e. light, sound or a musical note.' The Rik Mantras were sung with musical notes only in Soma sacrifice, the best of the sacrifices. The Mantras of the Vedic prayers, which were sung in the Soma sacrifice, were called the womb of Sarna. Samaveda is the compendium of all the Samas with musical notes. The Brahrnana, the ritual portion of the Veda, explains and expands their use and mystic meanings. The chief of the priests who sing the Sarna-prayers is called Udgata, those who sing the Mantras loudly (mystically meaning those who raise the sacrifice to the higher regions or to the state of higher consciousness through their singing)-and the whole work of singing was called Udgatra Karma. The Brahmana portion of the Veda describes the works and the Aranyaka and Upanisad portions expand the philosophy and mysticism behind these works. Soma represents the bliss-principle Singing is the Nandana Shilpa (bliss-bestowing art)3 dependent on Vak, the word, the speech. The highest point of bliss in the Sarna song is called Udgitha:" In Aitareya Upanisad we have seen that the main Sadhana (discipline) of Rgveda is that of Uktha-the highest or ultimate sabda or aksara (word or letter). Similarly the Sadharui of Sarnaveda consists of Udgitha. We should always keep in mind that the Rsis had realised this bliss-principle propounded in the Upanisads of this (Sarna) Veda through music=-bliss-songs.

Out of the many branches of Samaveda, only three survive-Kauthumi in Gurjardesha (Gujarat) as well as in Bangla, jaimini in Karnataka, and 'Ranayani' in Maharashtra. According to Carana Vyuha Surra, Kauthumi and jaimini are just another type or way of Ranayani. At present, we mainly know about the Kauthumi branch.

The book of the jaimini branch has been published recently. The jaiminiya Brahrnana of this branch holds a very important position in the Brahmana literature like the Satapatha Brahmana. No other Brahrnana has such high amount of mystic expressions. It is an unparalleled storehouse of Vedic thought and discipline. And yet no good commentary is found till now on this Brahmana.

Tandya, Chandogya and jaiminiya are the three main Brahrnanas of Samaveda that we have at present. But the Tandya and Chandogya are the Brahrnanas of the same Tandi School and it is said that together their name was 'Catvarinsa Brahmana' because of its forty books or chapters." Thus, the main two Brahrnanas are 'Catvarinsa' and 'jaiminiya'. The first twenty five books of Catvarinsa Brahrnana are called 'Paricavimsa' or Tandya Brahmana. Five books after that continue the same ideas in the 'Sadvirnsa Brahrnana'. Ten books after that are called Chandogya or Mantra or Upanisad Brahmana, The last eight chapters of this Brahrnana make the famous Chandogya Upanisad.

jaiminiya Brahrnana consists of eight books. The first three books or Kandas (trunks) describe works or rituals. The sub- ject matter of these books is like the first thirty-two books of 'Catvarinsa Brahrnana'. From the fourth to seventh books are called 'Upanisad Brahrnana' which is very similar to Chandogya Upanisad. The last book is called 'Arseya Brahrnana'. Kenopanisad is the fourth chapter of the seventh book of jaiminiya Brahrnana (the fourth chapter of the Upanisad Brahrnana). It runs from eighteenth to twenty-first section. We can call this Upanisad the essence of the Upanisad Brahmana and it will be more beneficial if we discuss it keeping that Brahmana in the background. Some call it jaiminiya Upanisad Brahmana, and others call it jaiminiya Upanisad. This is very appropriate indeed because it is very much like the Chandogya Upanisad. Both of them are of the nature of Aranyaka.

There is a great similarity in the subject matter and its arrangement of two Brahmanas=Catvarinsa and jaiminiya. It is worth noting that the Upanisadic portions are predominant in both of them. But the way of exposition of the two Upanisads is in no way similar. The exposition of Chandogya is very compact and well-arranged. But the exposition of the jaiminiya is much more mystic, though the exposition of Kena Upanisad in it is very compact. We can easily understand from the way of ewosition that the propounder of the Kena Upanisad is a mystic who loves to keep himself always in the background. It was perhaps because of the excess of mysticism or mystic language that in due course of time the jaiminiya slowly lost its prominence, but Kenopanisad, which is a part of it, still continues to exist predominantly because of its comparatively better clarity. 'If we see in this light, we can say that the rationale of those who say that Kena upanisad is much modern because its first two chapters are in poetry is not very strong. In fact, the poetic portion is nothing but the collection of very ancient slokas describing the knowledge of Brahman. We find such slokas even in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad as well. Two of its slokas are exactly similar to that of Kenopanisad. 8 Even in Brahmanas we find many such gathas, Riks or slokas. Kenopanisad is in no way different from them- it is indeed compiled and composed in the climate of the jaiminiya Upanisad Brahrnana.

Another name of jaiminiya Brahmana is 'Talavakara'Brahmana. Talavakara was a Rsi. We can know only this much about him from the Cana Path of Panini's Sutras and jaiminiya Guhyasutra." What was his relation with jaiminiya, we cannot know from this very little information. We find in Madhyandin Samhita a Surra 'Anandaya Talavam'-which means Talava is one of the animals of Purusa Medha sacrifice. It has to be sacri- ficed to the Bliss-god.!" Sayana says in his commentary on Taittiriya Brahrnana that "a Talava is a drum beater or plays an instrument like Calavadya (mouthorgan)." It is possible that the word is applied to some musical instrument. Thus the meaning of the word 'Talava Kara' will be a player of some musical instrument, which bestows joy or bliss. His association with Sornayajna or Samagana is worth noting. Talava Kara or jaimini is a propounder of a whole and complete Brahrnana-Iike Rsi Mahidas Aitareya. The name Talavakara is gone in the background. The name of.Jaimini gained prominence. We find the name of jaimini in the Carana Vyuha Sutra of Saunaka, but there is no mention of Talavakara. Even in Bhagavata Purana, we find that Krsna Dwaipayana taught Samaveda or Chandoga Samhita to jaimini. So here too we will consider jaimini alone as the authentic Rsi of Kenopanisad even though another name of Kenopanisad is Talavakara Upanisad.



We have already said that Kenopanisad consists of four sections of the fourth chapter of jaiminlya Upanisad. It is called Kenopanisad because like Isopanisad it begins with the word 'Kena'. It is also calle 'Talavakara Upanisad' following the name of its author or teacher. The Upanisad begins directly with Brahman as the subject matter. It talks about rituals at the end.

The Upanisad mainly expounds and elaborates the knowledge of Brahman. In the first section, we find some resemblance to 'Neti Vada'-the Vedantic Doctrine of "Not This, Not This". It is said that we cannot know or attain Brahman by means of speech, mind, the eyes, the ear or Prima. Brahman is more than what can be known by these; It is the basis as well of all that cannot be known.

Continuing the subject, it is said in the second section, just as we cannot say that we know It, similarly we cannot also say that "We know It not". In fact, we can know It by reflective perception or awakened consciousness. Moreover, we have to know it, otherwise there is great perdition.

That which cannot be known and again that, which can be known as well, is indeed an indescribable mystery. This is expounded in the third section through a story about Daemon (Yaksa), Uma, Indra and other gods.

In the fourth section, we have some aphoristic consideration about the Reality of Brahman and the discipline necessary for its attainment. Brahman is "That Delight", the Friend or the Lover. It is attained like the flash of the lightening.

In the Upanisad, we do not have any definite description or qualities of Brahman. Everywhere we find the halo of Its Mystery. Indescribability of the mystic experience is wonder- fully conveyed by this Upanisad.'

Peace Invocation
The Upanisad begins with the Peace Invocation. The Upanisads of Samaveda have their specific Peace Invocations. But one more Peace Invocation is added to this Upanisad in some ver- sions-' Sahanau avatu' etc. In fact, this is the Peace Invocation of the Upanisads of Krsna Yajurveda, foremost of which is Taittiriya Upanisad. It begins with 'Siksavalli', the chapter on teaching, where the Teacher and the Taught are involved. Kathopanisad is also a 'dialogue' or discussion between Yama and Naciketa. The Svetasvatara Upanisad begins with the questions of the seekers of Brahman. The rest of the Upanisad is an answer to these questions. The Peace Invocation of these Upanisads is therefore like a dialogue between the teacher and the taught. We can see if properly observed that Kenopanisad too is a dialogue from the beginning to the end. Because of that, probably, the Peace Invocation 'Sahanau avatu' was added to this Upanisad by some commentators. But if we take into consideration the main idea of this Upanisad, the following is the chief peace invocation of Kenopanisad:

Mayall my limbs be well nourished, (my) speech, Priina (life-breath), eyes, ears, and may all my senses be strong and well developed. Everything that is revealed in the Upanisad is Brahman. May I not repudiate Brahman May not Brahman repudiate me. Let there be no repudiation, rejection of me or from me. So long as I am engaged in the pursuit of the Self, may all the virtues, good qualities spo- ken of in the Upanisad repose in me, may they repose in me.

In the Peace Invocation of each Veda, there is an indication of the practice and attainment of the goal. In the Peace Invocation of Isopanisad.e we have the illumination and experience of the all-round integral fullness, which is the result of the unattached pure works of the dedicated worker who is inspired by the divine will to live for a hundred yearsl'' In the Peace Invocation of Aitareya Upanisad," there is the proclamation of the unity of speech and mind, which is the result of the discipline of the great sound i.e. Omkara. Similarly the main spirit of the Peace Invocation of Kenopanisad is the all-round development of a good well-nourished noble life. Let us try to dive deep in the meaning.

At many places in. the Vedas, Rik, Yajuh. and Sarna are respectively associated with the three worlds, Bhuh. (Earth), Bhuvah (mid-regions) and svah (heavens) and the three gods- Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air), and Aditya (Sun) The three worlds are the worlds of Light. Subjectively they are the three states of ascending consciousness. Through the Siidhanii (Discipline of Sarna) the consciousness ascends to the Heavens, that is the place of Sun or the god of the non-dual consciousness. On the Earth resides the Fire, the god of our ascending aspiration. Through sacrifice, the Flame of Fire reaches the Sun. That is the ascent of the concentrated aspiration of man to the non-dual consciousness of the Sun. 'Vena' (the lover) or 'Bandhu' (a friend) is another name for Sun. It connotes both 'Surya' the Sun and 'Soma' the Moon in Rgveda. Subjectively, the Sun denotes knowledge; the Moon denotes bliss. Ascending to the Sun through the Sadhana of 'Udgitha' i.e. Om or Sarna Mantras, then means illumination of the supreme knowledge in the pervasive vast consciousness as well as the oozing or springing up of the supreme bliss-which we now call the experience of the Consciousness and Bliss of Brahman. At many places in Rgveda, especially in the Soma-Mandala, this is called the union of the Sun and the Moon=-Surya-Soma. Again, Sarna means both musical note as well as harmony." Thus the union of Soma-Surya i.e. the' Moon and the Sun, develops in our consciousness a melodious supreme harmony, technical term for which is 'Brhat Sarna' or the Music of the Vast. It is the same as the music of the sun, the music of the heavens, the music of the Prdna or Life- Breath, the music of the best-' sreshtha' or the highest- 'Jyestha,To exult in this divine music is the full or total development, nourishment of one's self. We get a beautiful description of this exultance of joy and bliss in Taittiriya Upanisad attained as a result of the knowledge bestowed by the great Rsi Bhrgu the son of Varuna

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