by Swami Krishnananda
Now the Upaniṣhad tells us that we can meditate on Om, or Prāṇava, or a particular chant of the Sāma Veda called the Uktha. This is a ritualistic interpretation of the employment of Om in certain sacrifices. Uktha means Om or also a particular chant of the Sāma Veda. Uktham prano: 'The Prāṇa is Uktha.' Every chant is made possible by the operation of the Prāṇa, or energy within us. Contemplate the Prāṇa as Om or the chant of Sāma. Now again, here we have a meditation prescribed on the symbolic meaning of the letters of the word Uktha. Utthᾱpayati uddhᾱsmᾱd uktha-vid vīras tiṣṭhati, ukthasya sᾱyujyaṁ salokᾱtaṁ jayati, ya evaṁ veda: 'One who meditates on Uktha or this mystical chant rises above all others.' The meaning that one rises above all others is to be drawn out from the etymological meaning of the components of the word Uktha. Utthāpayati means 'rise above', stand above or even raise someone else above the present position. So, one who contemplates on the etymological meaning of the word Uktha, which signifies rising above or standing above, raises oneself above the present condition of life, stands above others in every respect, causes others also to rise above themselves into a higher position, and 'ultimately reaches union with the Cosmic Reality which is Uktha, or Om, a universal vibration with which one becomes united, having been able to meditate on it in this manner'.
Similarly we are asked to 'meditate on Prāṇa as Yajus'. Here again we are given a purely linguistic meaning. 'The Prāṇa unites things, and where Prāṇa is absent there is disintegration.' Prᾱṇe hīmᾱni sarvᾱṇi bhῡtᾱni yujyante: 'Whoever contemplates Prāṇa as Yajus, one of the Vedas, gets united with all things.' Not only that; he unites everything that is discrete and particular; he becomes a harmonising element in society; he becomes a peacemaker. One who has united himself with Reality becomes capable of uniting others also with Reality. Yujyante hᾱsmai sarvᾱṇi bhῡtᾱni śraiṣṭhyᾱya. yajuṣaḥ sᾱyujyaṁ salokatᾱṁ jayati, ya evaṁ veda: 'He who is able to meditate on Prāṇa as Yajus, that which unites things, attains pre-eminence. And, after casting off this body, attains that realm of the divinities which is hymned by the Mantras of the Yajur Veda.' He becomes one with the gods, the realm which is indicated by the Yajus, a celestial realm, far superior to the physical and the atmospheric regions. This is the consequence of meditation on Prāṇa as Yajus, a uniter, a combiner, or a harmoniser of everything, a meaning that is drawn out from the etymological significance of the word Yajus.
Raising the minds of ritual-ridden people to higher realms superior to the realm of the rites or the rituals of sacrifice in religion, instead of suddenly giving them a philosophic concept for meditation and drawing them gradually from the ritual realm to the philosophical realm through the realm of the ritual alone – this seems to be the purpose of the Upaniṣhad in this meditation.
Likewise, we are asked to contemplate on Prāṇa as Sāman. 'That which unites things' is also the meaning of Sāman. In the same way as one is enabled to attain to the realm of the deities of the Yajus by the contemplation on the Prāṇa as the uniter of all things and an harmoniser of principles, similarly is the effect that follows by meditation on Prāṇa as the Sāman. To unite, is the meaning that is drawn out from the word Yajus. 'To harmonise, is the meaning that is drawn out of the word Sāman. Everything comes together for him who contemplates Prāṇa as Sāman, and one who thus meditates throughout one's life attains the realm of ultimate harmony of things after the casting off of the body. This is the result of this meditation.'
Kṣatram prᾱṇo: 'Prāṇa is to be meditated upon as Kṣatra.' This again is a peculiarity in Sanskrit. Kṣatram prāṇo trᾱyate hainaṁ prᾱṇaḥ kṣanitoḥ: The word Kṣatra is taken as an occasion to contemplate on Prāṇa as 'that which saves people from all kinds of sufferings', a protector of all people, a saviour par excellence and a guide in life, one who provides the necessities of life. All these meanings are to be drawn from the word Kṣatra as united with Prāṇa, which is the symbol here for meditation. 'One who thus meditates on Prāṇa, as Kṣatra, the saviour, the protector and one who frees people from every kind of sorrow or suffering, reaches realms which are well-protected, which are free from sorrow of every kind, and attains to a salvation which is equivalent to freedom from all turmoil of physical life.'