Prasna Upanishad, Class 2


Greetings All,

Swamiji continued his talks on Prasna Upanishad.

Shloka # 1: Refreshing our memory on Shloka 1, he says, this Upanishad begins with an introduction of Guru and Shishyas. It is similar to other Upanishads. The six qualified students are named and described. The way they were qualified is as follows:

  1. They were committed to worship of Saguna Brahma Upasana.
  2. They have gone through Karma Kanda and Upasana Kanda. They have Sadhana Chatushtiya Sampathi. (From Tatvabodha they are: Vivekaha – discrimination, Vairāgyam – dispassion, Mumukshutvam – desire and Shatka Sampattihi – discipline.)
  3. They are established in Saguna Brahman.
  4. They are Nishtaha or grounded. They are followers of Vaidic Margaha.

It takes some time to develop Shraddha in Vedanta. However, as one follows Karma Kanda and Upasana Kanda, by the time they reach Vedanta, the student develops strong Shraddha.

What is the purpose of their visit to the Guru?

They are seeking Param Brahman. They understand the limitations of Saguna Brahman. They are not satisfied with this knowledge.

Why was Pippiladaha chosen as the teacher?

He was Bhagwan Pippiladaha. Bhagwan is one who has knowledge of all Shastras. He also has superb communications skills.

How did they approach their teacher?

They approached with humility and respect to the teacher. Serving the teacher is not serving the person rather it is serving Shastram. Shastri puja is same as Shastram puja. They approached teacher with some offering as well. Swamiji says, usually fruits, nuts, fuel etc. are considered normal offerings. They approached the teacher as if he was the Lord in a temple.

What is their motive?

They wanted Pippiladaha to teach them everything. So they approached with respect and a proper attitude.

Shloka # 2:

Seeing them and their approach Pippiladaha knew their qualifications. He tells them: All of you must stay here for one year. Even after that there is no assurance that you will get an answer to your questions.

In ancient times teachers were hesitant to give answers. Teachers were not sure how casual the student was. Unless the student was sincere the teaching would not go in. Many tests were given to students. Also Teacher had to know if student was qualified or if they were lacking in any area such as intelligence, industry, shradha etc. The one-year was also important to develop rapport between teacher and student. Thus a loving relationship was developed.

Pippiladaha tells them “You should live in the ashram for a year. You should live a life of Tapas, Penance and Brahmacharya. Swamiji says comfort and knowledge do not go together. Brahmacharya meant giving up comfort while maintaining Shraddha. Sanyasa means detachment from everything.

Illustrating the concept of sanyasa, Swamiji narrated story of a student who was asked to leave the ashram suddenly in the middle of the night. The student did not know what to do. He was lost as to why he was thrown out. He wandered around from village to village seeking food and shelter. After a few days the Teacher sent some students to call him back. The student asked the teacher why he was thrown out to begin with. The teacher told him that he saw the student was getting attached to the Ashram. He wanted the student to maintain his detachment even in Ashram. To teach him this lesson, he was thrown out.

Shloka # 3:

After one year of tapas and brahmacharya Pippiladaha allowed the students to raise their questions. The first one to go was Kabandhi Katyayana. They were called in reverse order as named in shloka #1.

Kabandhi asked: Bhagwan, from what source are all these living beings coming up or originating? Or, how did creation occur?

The teacher Pippiladaha answered by introducing Hiranyagarbha. He says, Ishwara created Hiranyagarbha also known as Brahma. Brahma in turn created the creation. Vishnu taught Brahma how to create. Kama is the force behind creation. Thus, after Brahma performed tapas on Ishwara, Lord gave him knowledge. Tapas here meant he was given the ability to visualize the previous Srishti or Creation. The creatures are created based upon their respective Karmas. Thus came the creation