Brihadaaranyak Upanishad - 6-2
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6-2-1 The Process of Rebirth
Shwetaketu, the grandson of Aaruni, (the son of Aaruni's daughter Sujaataa)
came to the assembly of the Paanchaal. He approached Pravahan, the son of
Jaibaal, who was being waited upon by his courtiers.
As soon as the King saw him, he said: "Is it you, boy?"
He replied: "Yes, Sir."
Then the King asked: "Have you been taught by your father?"
"Yes," he replied.
The King said: "Do you know how people, after departing from this
life, proceed on different paths?"
"No," he replied.
"Do you know how they return to this world?"
"No," he replied.
"Do you know why the other world is never filled up even though so many
people go there again and again?"
"No," he replied.
"Do you know after how many offerings of oblations the water (the liquid
oblation) becomes endowed with a human voice, rises up and speaks?"
"No," he replied.
"Do you know the means of access to the path leading to the gods or to that
leading to the Manes, that is to say, through what deeds men attain the path
leading to the gods or that leading to the Manes? We have heard the following
words of the Mantra: "I have heard of the two paths for men, one leading
to the Manes and the other to the gods. Going along them they (departed souls)
are united with their destination. They (the paths) lie between the father
(Heaven) and the mother (Earth)."
Shwetketu said: "I do not know even one of these."
Then the King invited him to stay. But the boy, disregarding the invitation,
He went to his father and said: "Did you not tell me before that you had
fully instructed me?"
"What then, my intelligent child?"
"That fellow of a Kshatriya asked me five questions and I did not know
even one of them."
"What were they?"
"These," said Shwetketu and he recited them.
The father said: "My child, believe me, whatever I myself knew, I told
you. But come, let us go there and live as religious students
"You may go, Sir," the son replied.
Then Gautam went to where King Pravahan, the son of Jaibaal, was giving audience.
The King offered him a seat, ordered water for him and made him the reverential
offering. Then he said: "Revered Gautam, we will give you a boon."
Gautam said: "You have promised me this boon. Now please tell me what you
spoke about to my boy."
The King said: "Ah, those are divine boons, Gautam. Please ask for a human
Gautam said: "You know well that I have gold, cows, horses, maidservants,
retinue and apparel. Please do not be ungenerous towards me in regard to that
gift which is plentiful, infinite and inexhaustible."
The King said: "Then, verily, O Gautam, You should ask it in the prescribed
Gautam replied: "I approach you as a disciple."
The ancients used to approach a teacher through mere declaration. So Gautam
lived with the King by merely announcing that he was a student.
The King said: "Please do not be offended with us even as your paternal
grandfather was not offended with ours. Before now this knowledge never rested
with a Braahman. But I shall teach it to you, for who can refuse you when you
speak like this?
"Yonder world is the sacrificial fire, the Sun is its fuel, the rays
are its smoke, the day is its flame, the four quarters are its cinders and
the intermediate quarters are its sparks. In this fire the gods offer faith
as libation. Out of that offering the King Moon is born.
"Parjanya (the god of rain, Indra), O Gautam, is the fire, the year is its
fuel, the clouds are its smoke, lightning is its flame, the thunderbolt is its
cinders, the rumbling is its sparks. In this fire the gods offer King Moon as
libation, and out of that offering rain is produced.
"This world, O Gautam, is the fire, the Earth is its fuel, fire is its
smoke, the night is its flame, the Moon is its cinders, the stars are its
sparks. In this fire the gods offer rain as libation. Out of that offering
food is produced.
"Man, O Gautam, is the fire, the open mouth is its fuel, the vital breath
is its smoke, speech is its flame, the eye is its cinders and the ear is its
sparks. In this fire the gods offer food as libation. Out of that offering
semen is produced.
"Woman, O Gautam, is the fire, her sexual organ is the fuel, the hairs
are the smoke, the vulva is the flame, sexual intercourse is the cinders,
enjoyment is the sparks. In this fire the gods offer semen as libation.
Out of this offering a man is born. He lives as long as he is to live.
Then, when he dies,
"They carry him to be offered in the fire. The fire becomes his fire,
the fuel is his fuel, the smoke is his smoke, the flame is his flame, the
cinders is his cinders and the sparks is his sparks. In this fire the gods
offer the man as libation. Out of this offering the man emerges in radiant
"Those even among householders who know this, as described and those too
who, living in the forest, meditate with faith upon the Satya Brahm (Hiranyagarbh),
reach the deity identified with flame, from him to the deity of the day, from him
to the deity of the fortnight in which the Moon waxes, from him to the deities of
the six months during which the Sun travels Northward, from them to the deity
identified with the world of the gods (Dev Lok), from him to the Sun, from the
Sun to the deity of lightning. Then a being created from the mind of Hiranyagarbh
comes and leads them to the worlds of Braahm. In those worlds of Brahm they become
exalted and live for many years. They no more return to this world.
"But those who conquer the worlds through sacrifices, charity and austerity
reach the deity of smoke, from smoke to the deity of the night, from night to the
deity of the fortnight in which the Moon wanes, from the decreasing half of the
Moon to the deities of the six months during which the Sun travels Southward,
from these months to the deity of the world of the Manes and from the world of
the Manes to the Moon. Reaching the Moon they become food. There the gods enjoy
them, just as here the priests drink the shining Som juice - saying as it were:
"Flourish, dwindle." And when their past work is exhausted they reach
this very Aakaash, from the Aakaash they reach the air, from the air to the rain,
from the rain to the Earth. Reaching the Earth they become food. Then they are
again offered in the fire of man and thence in the fire of woman. Out of the fire
of woman they are born and perform rites with a view to going to other worlds.
Thus do they rotate. "Those, however, who do not know these two ways become
insects and moths and those creatures which often bite (i.e. mosquitoes and gnats)."
END OF BRIHADAARANYAK UPANISHAD