by Swami Krishnananda
When Yāj˝avalkya spoke like this, referring to the audience as if it is utilising Śākalya as a cat's paw, the retort of Śākalya was: "Yāj˝avalkya what are you speaking?"
Yᾱj˝avalkya, iti hovᾱca śᾱkalyaḥ, yad idaṁ kuru-pa˝cᾱlᾱnᾱṁ brᾱhmaṇᾱn atyavᾱdīḥ, kiṁ brahma vidvᾱn iti: "Is it because of your knowledge, knower of Brahman, that you are referring to the audience in this manner that they are using me as a cat's paw. I will ask you further questions." He is not tired. Already he has irritated Yāj˝avalkya too much by putting questions. Now he says: "I will ask you more questions."
What are these questions? They are more difficult to understand than what we have studied. We are going from one complex to another complex. These last questions are full of meaning, but very complicated, indeed difficult to understand.
Śākalya asks Yāj˝avalkya: Diśo veda sadevᾱḥ sapratiṣṭhᾱ iti: "I know the various directions with their deities and their abodes. Do you also know them?" – yad diśo vettha sa devᾱḥ sapratiṣṭhᾱḥ. Yāj˝avalkya says: "I know." There is nothing which Yāj˝avalkya does not know. Any question you ask, he says; "I know." And he gives a proper answer. Śākalya asks: "What is this deity which is above in the eastern direction? I know it, and if you also know, you tell."
"The deity of the eastern direction is the sun," says Yāj˝avalkya. Āditya, of course, because the sun rises in the eastern direction. It is very holy. The eastern direction is full of vibrations. On account of the rise of the sun every day, it is charged with a new type of magnetism. "Āditya, the sun, is the deity of the eastern direction, and on what is this deity, Āditya, founded?" "He is, of course, founded in the eye of the Virāt, as I have already mentioned, because he is the eye of the Virāt" – cakṣuṣīti. kasmin nu cakṣuḥ pratiṣṭḥitam. What is the meaning of "the eye"? What is the very significance of eye? Eye perceives forms. So Rūpa, or form, is the abode or the foundation of the eye, because if there is no form to perceive, the eye has no meaning. So, in a sense we can say that the objects which are perceived by the eye are the abode or the support or the foundation of the eye – cakṣuṣᾱ hi rῡpᾱṇi paśyati. Where are these forms founded? They are founded in the heart, ultimately. There are no forms, really speaking. This is a repetition, in one sense, of what we have studied earlier. The objects of sense are projections, external in space and time, of certain circumstances or situations. They are not realities. And so, the forms that are seen outside as if they are solid objects independently existing are projections of the desire of the mind. It depends upon what desires you have got. Accordingly, you will see forms outside. So, the forms that are visualised by the eye are rooted in the heart's impression, ultimately, because it is in the heart that you perceive; it is due to the feeling that you cognise the forms outside. If you have no feeling for things, you will not perceive anything. "Well; that is very good. This is a good answer to my question," says Śākalya, and goes on further.
Kiṁ-devato'syᾱṁ dakṣiṇᾱyᾱṁ diśy asīti: "Which is the deity that rules the southern direction?" Yāj˝avalkya says: "Yama is the deity." Yama represents the deity of justice. We call him Dharmaraja. And Dharma is connected with the principle of Yaj˝a. Yaj˝a is not, as we have already observed, a mere external performance in the sacred fire, but an alienation of the lower part of one's own self. In other words, self-sacrifice is Yaj˝a. And it is a self-sacrifice of different intensities and grades that constitutes Dharma, ultimately. The essence of Dharma is sacrifice of self. Thus Dharmaraja, the ultimate deciding factor of all canons of Dharma, or virtue, or righteousness, has something to do with Yaj˝a, or self-sacrifice. So, a question was further put as to where Yama is founded, or what is the principle which Yama follows? The answer is "Yaj˝a it is; sacrifice is the principle." Kasmin nu yaj˝aḥ pratiṣṭhita iti: "How do you decide the factor of Yaj˝a? Where is it founded?" Dakṣiṇayam iti: "The hope of reward that will accrue out of the sacrifice is the propeller of all sacrifices." Here, Dakṣiṇa means a reward, whatever it be. And so, the impulse behind any kind of sacrifice is the reward that accrues out of it. The reward may be a lower one or a higher one, it may be a temporal one or a spiritual one. Irrespective of the nature of the reward, it is that which impels the conduct of a sacrifice. Kasmin nu dakṣiṇᾱ pratiṣṭhitᾱ iti: "Now, what is the principle that becomes responsible for this hope itself?" How do you entertain a hope for reward out of the sacrifice? How do you know that a reward will come at all? When you perform a sacrifice or do an action, perhaps no result may follow. What makes you feel convinced that every action, every sacrifice must bear a fruit or yield a result? Śraddhᾱyᾱm iti: You have got a faith. "The faith that reward will accrue out of every action or sacrifice is therefore the foundation of the hope for reward." Yadᾱ hy eva śraddhatte atha dakṣiṇᾱṁ dadᾱti; śraddhᾱyᾱm hy eva dakṣiṇᾱ pratiṣṭhitᾱ iti. kasmin nu śraddhᾱ pratiṣṭhitᾱ iti: "Now, where is this faith founded? From where does this faith come?" "It is in your heart" – hṛdaye iti. So, ultimately it is your heart that decides everything. Feeling is not the only function of the heart. It is a huge reservoir of various inscrutable factors. Understanding, feeling and various other psychological functions are, no doubt, included in the character of the heart, but the heart is something indescribable. Here, by heart we do not mean the fleshy counterpart that we call the heart, but the essence of the human being, the central part of human nature, the quintessence of what we are in our principality. That is what is called the heart. And so, it is the heart that is responsible for the hope that you entertain, the faith that you have, and the sacrifice that you perform. If the heart is not to be connected with your feeling, with your actions, then there would be no sense conveyed by the attitude or the conduct that you have in life, or the actions that you perform.
The heart really means your own self. In a particular form, your self assumes an association with the target or the goal of your actions. It is something very inscrutable again, this point as to how your self is connected with a goal that is very remote in the future – maybe after death, after several years. But the self of the human being, which is the agent of action and which is the impulse behind all feelings, is inwardly connected with even the remotest goal or reward that may come even after millions of years. Some say, the heart is a very subtle connecting link between the individual and the Ultimate Reality. So Yāj˝avalkya says that justice, law, sacrifice, hope for reward, faith – all these are ultimately manifestations of the functions of the heart which is a subtle shape that is taken by the essence of the human being, namely, the Ātman itself. So, Hṛdaya is the ultimate root of all things.
"Well; that is very good," said Śākalya. "Your answer is fine. Now, I ask you another question."
Kiṁ-devato'syᾱm pratīcyᾱṁ diśy asīti: "In the western direction, which is the deity that rules?" varuṇa-devata iti: "Varuna is the deity. The Lord of waters is Varuna, which is the deity that rules the western direction." Sa varuṇaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti: "What is the foundation for Varuna?" How does it function? Apsv iti: "The principle of water." You may say the subtle constituent principles of water, or the Prakriti of water, which becomes later on the gross visible water – that is the basis of the function of Varuna. Kasmin nv ᾱpaḥ pratiṣṭhitᾱ: "Where is water founded?" What is the foundation for the principle of water? Retasīti, kasmin nv retaḥ pratiṣṭhitam iti: Here, Retas means the vitality of the individual, or vitality of anyone for the matter of that. It is believed that the water principle and the vital force in every being are interconnected, and the vital energy is regarded as the essence of water. Water is the gross form; the vital energy is the subtle form. So the subtle form is the foundation for the gross form. Hence, "Retas is the foundation for water." "But where is Retas founded?" Again he says: "It is in the heart" – hṛdaye iti, hovᾱca; tasmᾱd api pratirῡpaṁ jᾱtam ᾱhuḥ, hṛdayᾱd iva sṛptaḥ, hṛdayᾱd iva nirmita iti, hṛdaye hy eva retaḥ pratiṣṭhitam bhavatīti. evam evaitat, yᾱj˝avalkya: "It is the heart of a person that is reborn in the child that is the replica of the individual." "This means the essence of the being, the quintessence of an individual is represented by the heart. So, again we have to say here that heart does not mean the physical substance. It is an inscrutable deciding factor of the total personality of the individual that is called the heart. It is the vitality of the individual, and therefore we call it the heart. And so, anything that is of moment or consequence in life, anything that is worthwhile and carrying tremendous effect, must have some connection with the heart. You know very well that any word that you utter from the bottom of your heart, any action that you do propelled by the heart, and any feeling that you entertain rising from the depths of the heart, must produce a corresponding effect. But if it is not connected to the heart, the result may not follow. So it is said that the heart, again in this context, should be regarded as the central foundation for all other emanations thereof."
Then Śākalya asks: "What is the deity of the northern direction?" – kiṁ-devato'syᾱm udīcyᾱṁ diśy asīti. soma-devata iti. sa somaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti. Now, here the answer is, in some way, connected with the ancient system of the ritualistic sacrifice. "The deity of the northern direction," Yāj˝avalkya says, "is Soma." Soma means the particular sacred juice which the ancients utilised for the purpose of various sacrifices, especially Soma-Yagna. And the deity of this particular sacred plant called Soma is supposed to be the moon. Therefore the moon is also called Soma. And inasmuch as it is the sacrifice that is here referred to as the connecting link with the deity of the northern direction, the foundation for this deity is supposed to be the discipline that is followed in the sacrifice. The deity of a sacrifice will not manifest itself unless the discipline thereof is properly followed. There are certain techniques of sacrifice; the sacrifices are not merely external offerings made into the sacred fire, but are coupled with chants of Mantras, and also a more important factor – meditations. So, the meditations, the chants and the actual performance – these three are the essential disciplines of a sacrifice. There are certain other minor factors, also. These disciplines are responsible for the manifestation of a deity, the vision of a deity, and the grace that is bestowed by the deity in the particular sacrifice. "So, Dīksā is the foundation for the deity." Dīksā is discipline, the sacred vow that one observes in the context of the performance of a sacrifice. Without this discipline, the fruit of the sacrifice will not be made visible, which means to say that there will not be a vision of the deity connected with the sacrifice. So, the discipline of the sacrifice is the foundation, the deciding factor of the manifestation of the deity – dīkṣᾱyᾱm iti. kasmin nu dīkṣᾱ pratiṣṭhitᾱ iti: "What is this discipline founded upon?" Satya iti: "Truth is the foundation for the discipline followed in the sacrifice." This is a very difficult term. Here, truth means many things. It is the inner connection that obtains between the actual performance of an action and the result that deals with the remote future. In certain schools of thought, this connection is called Apurva, a special technical term implying the potency invisibly produced by an action, carrying its effect in some distant future. This is called Satya. It has also some connection with the Ultimate Reality, because the capacity of an action to produce a result in the remote future is due to the constituent nature of the Ultimate Reality itself. Otherwise, how can there be any connection between the present and the future, especially when the future is far, far away from the present, in the passage of time? Whatever be the distance between the present time and the future time, the connection is not broken. It is maintained, so that if you do an action today, its result is not destroyed. Its fruit cannot be regarded as nullified merely because of the fact that it is a small action. Even if it is the smallest action, it will produce a result.
Sometimes very weak actions produce results after many, many years. Strong actions produce results immediately. Many years, it may even be millions of years before weak actions produce their results. You may have to take many births in order to enjoy the fruit thereof, but the fruit will be there. Just as even one penny that you credit in your bank account is still there, notwithstanding the fact that it is so little, even the smallest of actions produces a result. And the possibility of the production of a result from an action, even in a distant future, is the justice of the Law of the universe, so that we may say that the universal Law is ultimately just and impartial. There is no one who will be excluded from reward. There is nothing which will be kept out of the sight of the ultimate Law of the universe. Hence it is said that this discipline of the sacrifice which yields fruit in the distant future is founded on Ultimate Truth which is Satya – tasmᾱd api dikṣitam ᾱhuḥ, satyaṁ vada iti.
Satye hy eva dīkṣᾱ pratiṣṭhitᾱ iti: "All religious vows are ultimately based on Truth. Kasmin nu satyam pratiṣṭhitam iti: Where is truth founded?" Very difficult questions, and Yāj˝avalkya says again: "It is in the heart of a being." Here, when he says that the heart is the foundation for truth, he means relative truth as well as Absolute Truth. There are degrees of reality, and all these are comprehended in the feelings of the heart. When it is the feeling that functions, the goal of the feeling is a tentative or a relative truth, but this relative truth is somehow or the other connected with the Absolute Truth. The materialisation of a result of an action, which proceeds out of the heart of an individual, is, to repeat what I have already mentioned to you, the consequence of the universality of Law. And so, the heart of an individual which performs actions, which propels feelings, and is the reaper of the fruits of actions, is connected with the Truth which is from all points of view relative, but from its own point of view Absolute – hṛdayena hi satyaṁ jᾱnᾱti, hṛdaye hy eva satyam pratiṣṭhitam bhavatīti. evam evaitat, yᾱj˝avalkya. Śākalya agrees Yāj˝avalkya's answer is correct and proceeds with his questions.
Now, Śākalya asks: "Which is the deity of the direction which is above?" He (Yāj˝avalkya) has given the description of the various deities and their foundations in respect of the four quarters. "Now, kiṁ-devato'syᾱṁ dhruvᾱyᾱṁ diśy asīti, the direction that is overhead, the top, is also presided over by a divine principle, what is that?" Agnī-devata iti: "It is the brilliance of the sun that can be regarded as the presiding deity of the central direction which is above." The comparison is because of its brilliance. The fixed direction overhead is presided over by the fire principle whose obvious physical manifestation is the sun. So'gniḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti: "Where is the fire founded?" "The speech of the Supreme Being." The Virāt Puruṣha is always mentioned in the Upaniṣhad as the cause of the manifestation of Agnī Devata, as we have already studied earlier. Kasmin nu vᾱk pratiṣṭhitᾱ iti: "Now again, speech is to be founded on something." "It is in the heart." Yāj˝avalkya comments upon all these things by saying that everything is ultimately in your heart. Whether it is an action that you perform, or a speech that you utter, a feeling that occurs to you, or the nature of the reward of the action that accrues out of your actions, whatever be the thing that is connected with you – all this is founded in your central being, you very self, your own Hridaya, your own heart. Kasmin nu hṛdayam pratiṣṭhitam iti. Now, Śākalya asks: "Where is the heart founded?"
Yāj˝avalkya says: "You are a foolish man. You are asking me, where the heart is founded? Don't you know where the heart is? You want a foundation for the heart! If the heart is not in your own self, if it be anywhere else, what will happen to you? Dogs will eat you, and vultures will tear you to pieces. What a question you ask! The heart cannot be anywhere other than in your own self." So, the question is futile, and an answer, therefore, is not called for in connection with such a stupid question as to where the heart is founded. But Śākalya is not deterred by this repulsive answer of Yāj˝avalkya. He further raises a question.