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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

The third story of Aru@ni and As'vapati Kaikeya Cha


third story of Aru@ni and As'vapati Kaikeya (Cha. V. 11) is hardly more convincing, for here five Brahmins wishing to know what the Brahman and the self were, went to Uddalaka Aru@ni; but as he did not know sufficiently about it he accompanied them to the K@sattriya king As'vapati Kaikeya who was studying the subject. But As'vapati ends the conversation by giving them certain instructions about the fire doctrine (_vaisvanara agni_) and the import of its sacrifices. He does not say anything about the true self as Brahman. We ought also to consider that there are only the few exceptional cases where K@sattriya kings were instructing the Brahmins. But in all other cases the Brahmins were discussing and instructing the atman knowledge. I am thus led to think that Garbe owing to his bitterness of feeling against the Brahmins as expressed in the earlier part of the essay had been too hasty in his judgment. The opinion of Garbe seems to have been shared to some extent by Winternitz also, and the references given by him to the Upani@sad passages are also the same as we


[Footnote 1: Garbe's article, "_Hindu Monism_," p. 74.]

[Footnote 2: B@rh. II., compare also B@rh. IV. 3, how Yajnavalkya speaks to Janaka about the _brahmavidya_.]


just examined

[Footnote ref 1]. The truth seems to me to be this, that the K@sattriyas and even some women took interest in the religio-philosophical quest manifested in the Upani@sads. The enquirers were so eager that either in receiving the instruction of Brahman or in imparting it to others, they had no considerations of sex and birth [Footnote ref 2]; and there seems to be no definite evidence for thinking that the Upani@sad philosophy originated among the K@sattriyas or that the germs of its growth could not be traced in the Brahma@nas and the Ara@nyakas which were the productions of the Brahmins.

The change of the Brahma@na into the Ara@nyaka thought is signified by a transference of values from the actual sacrifices to their symbolic representations and meditations which were regarded as being productive of various earthly benefits. Thus we find in the B@rhadara@nyaka (I.1) that instead of a horse sacrifice the visible universe is to be conceived as a horse and meditated upon as such. The dawn is the head of the horse, the sun is the eye, wind is its life, fire is its mouth and the year is its soul, and so on. What is the horse that grazes in the field and to what good can its sacrifice lead? This moving universe is the horse which is most significant to the mind, and the meditation of it as such is the most suitable substitute of the sacrifice of the horse, the mere animal. Thought-activity as meditation, is here taking the place of an external worship in the form of sacrifices. The material substances and the most elaborate and accurate sacrificial rituals lost their value and bare meditations took their place. Side by side with the ritualistic sacrifices of the generality of the Brahmins, was springing up a system where thinking and symbolic meditations were taking the place of gross matter and action involved in sacrifices. These symbols were not only chosen from the external world as the sun, the wind, etc., from the body of man, his various vital functions and the senses, but even arbitrary alphabets were taken up and it was believed that the meditation of these as the highest and the greatest was productive of great beneficial results. Sacrifice in itself was losing value in the eyes of these men and diverse mystical significances and imports were beginning to be considered as their real truth [Footnote ref 3].

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