'त्रयाः प्राजापत्याः प्रजापतौ पितरि ब्रह्मचर्यम् ऊषुर्देवा मनुष्या असुराः' – ‘Trayãhã prãjãpatyãhã prajãpatau pitari brahmacharyam ooshurdevã manushyã asurãhã’ – ‘Devas, humans and asuras were all Prajãpati’s children, and they all became their father’s disciples’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/1). The devas first asked, 'ब्रवीतु नो भवानिति' ‘Braveetu no bhavãniti’ – ‘Please counsel us’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/1). 'ते यो हैतदक्षरमुवाच द इति' – ‘Tebhyo haitadaksharamuvãcha da iti’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/1). Meaning, Prajãpati gave the devas a one letter precept – ‘da’. The devas heard this, and Prajãpati then asked, 'व्यज्ञासिष्टा इति' – ‘Vyagnãsishtã iti’ – ‘O devas! Have you understood the meaning of ‘da’?’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/1). The devas answered, 'व्यज्ञासिष्म इति होचुः। दा यतेति न आत्थेति। ओमिति होवाच व्यज्ञासिष्टेति' – ‘Vyagnãsishma iti hochuhu. Dãmyateti na ãttheti. Omiti hovãcha vyagnãsishteti’ – ‘O Lord! We understand. ‘Da’ means daman – control. You want us to divert our indriyas from sensual pleasures and control them’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/1). Hearing this Prajãpati affirmed that that is what he had implied.
'अथ हैनं मनुष्या ऊचुर्ब्रवीतु नो भवानिति' – ‘Atha hainam manushyã oochurbraveetu no bhavãniti’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/2). After the devas left, the humans approached Prajãpati and requested him to give them advice. He said, 'ते यो हैतदेवाक्षरमुवाच द इति व्यज्ञासिष्टा इति' – Tebhyo haitadevãksharamuvãcha da iti vyagnãsishthã iti’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/3). Prajãpati also gave the humans the one letter precept ‘da’ and asked them if they understood what it meant. They said, “Yes, we understand, ‘da’ means ‘dãn’ – to donate. Greed increases when one collects too much money, and greed is the doorway to Narak. You are instructing us to donate, so that we do not fall.” Prajãpati was pleased and said, “That is correct; you have correctly understood what I have implied.”
'अथ हैनं असुरा ऊचुर्ब्रवीतु नो भवानिति' – ‘Atha hainam asurã oochurbraveetu no bhavãniti’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/3). After the humans had left, the asuras approached Prajãpati and asked him to counsel them. He advised, 'ते यो हैतदक्षरमुवाच द इति। विज्ञासिष्टा इति। विज्ञासिष्म इति। दयध्वमिति न आत्थेति' – ‘Tebhyo haitadaksharamuvãcha da eti, vigãsishthã iti, vignãsishma iti, dayadhvamiti na ãttheti’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/3). Prajãpati gave the asuras the one letter precept ‘da’ too. He asked them if they understood anything from it. The asuras said, ‘Yes we have understood, ‘da’ means ‘dayã’ – compassion. We are tamoguni and become easily angry, therefore you are telling us to keep compassion on all.’ Prajãpati was content to hear this.
In conclusion this Upanishad says, 'तदेतदेवैषा दैवी वागनुवदति स्तनयित्नु र्द द द इति। दा यत दत्त दयध्वमिति' – ‘Tadetadevaishã daivee vãganuvadati stanayintur da da da iti, dãmyata datta dayadhvamiti’ (Bruha dãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/3). It is as if these words echo the message of rumbling clouds, which tell us to control, contribute and be compassionate. 'तदेतत्त्रयं शिक्षेद् दमं दानं दयामिति' – ‘Tadetattrayam shikshed damam dãnam dayãmiti’ (Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad: 5/2/3). Therefore, each spiritual aspirant should imbibe these qualities.
Thus, the Bruhadãranyaka Upanishad is like a resonance of spirituality in the forest. Its every note enriches us with the wealth of the brahmagnãnis’ knowledge.
Sadhu Bhadreshdas, Ph. D., D.Litt.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas