Taittiriya Upanishad: Rishi Bhrigu’s Meditation

by  Shruti Bakshi

May God protect us
May we be nourished
May we work together with great energy
May our intellect be sharpened/enlightened
May there be no ill-will between us
Om Peace Peace Peace

The Upanishads, as you may know are the oldest and most profound texts on the nature of life and reality. The greatest minds of the world have been struck by the ultimate wisdom they encountered in these texts.

“I go into the Upanishads to ask questions.” 

– Danish physicist and Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr (1885-1962) 

 

“[the Upanishads] are the production of the highest human wisdom”

– German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer

Upanishad means ‘sitting down near or at the feet of [the guru or Truth]’. They are referred to as Vedanta, literally, ‘the end of the Vedas’, because they represent the culmination or the highest wisdom of the Vedas.

Below is an excerpt from the Taittiriya Upanishad that forms parts of the Krishna Yajur Veda. The Taittiriya Upanishad is divided into 3 parts or Vallis. Adi Sharankaracharya named them:

1) Shiksha Valli
2) Ananda-Valli and
3) Bhrigu Valli.

The excerpt considered here is from the Bhrigu Valli (you can find more on the other Vallis including the full text of the Upanishad, with translation by Swami Sharvananda of the Ramakrishna Matth, here).

The Bhrigu Valli is an important text especially for yoga and meditation practitioners since it describes the transformation from the gross to the subtle. The Taittiriya Upanishad is the earliest text dealing with the concepts of the 3 bodies and the five sheaths or koshas.

 

Rishi Bhrigu was one of the 7 rishis (Sapt Rishis) who are said to have received direct knowledge from Lord Shiva himself (about 15,000 years ago according to yogic lore) and who travelled to different parts of the world to spread this knowledge.

The Bhrigu Valli describes the experiential understanding reached by a yogi who meditates with an enquiring mind. The yogi moves to subtler and subtler dimensions within himself. He first contemplates on the gross physical body and finds that the nourisher of all physical bodies is food. However this answer does not satisfy Bhrigu and he is guided by his father Varuna to go deeper into meditation. Bhrigu meditates more deeply and gains subtler and subtler insights until he reaches the ultimate understanding.

The story of Bhrigu’s meditation is also a lesson for meditators who upon arriving at an insight feel like they have reached the ultimate. It takes the right guidance and humility to keep quiet and enquire further, not settling for anything less than final understanding and union with Brahman, the Absolute.

 

Excerpt from Taittiriya Upanishad, Part (Valli) 3 

“Bhrigu went to his father, Varuna, and asked respectfully: ‘What is Brahman?” Varuna replied: ‘First learn about food, breath, eye, ear, speech, and mind; then seek to know that from which these are born, by which they live, for which they search, and to which they return. That is Brahman.

Bhrigu meditated and found that food is Brahman. From food are born all creatures, by food they grow, and to food they return. Not fully satisfied with his knowledge, Bhrigu went to his father, Varuna, and appealed: ‘Please teach me more of Brahman.’

‘Seek it through meditation,’ replied Varuna, ‘for meditation is Brahman.’

Bhrigu meditated and found that life is Brahman. From life are born all creatures, by life they grow, and to life they return. Not fully satisfied with his knowledge, Bhrigu went to his father, Varuna, and appealed: ‘Please teach me more of Brahman.’

‘Seek it through meditation,’ replied Varuna, ‘for meditation is Brahman.’

Bhrigu meditated and found that mind is Brahman. From mind are born all creatures, by mind they grow, and to mind they return. Not fully satisfied with his knowledge, Bhrigu went to his father, Varuna, and appealed: ‘Please teach me more of Brahman.’

‘Seek it through meditation,’ replied Varuna, ‘for meditation is Brahman.’

Bhrigu meditated and found that joy is Brahman. From joy are born all creatures, by joy they grow, and to joy they return.

Bhrigu, Varuna’s son, realized this Self in the very depths of meditation. Those who realize the Self within the heart stand firm, grow rich, gather a family around them, and receive the love of all.”

 

– translation taken from ‘Asian Philosophy’ by Forrest E Baird and R.S. Heimbeck

For the original Sanskrit, see here.

 

See also: Pointings from the Kena Upanishad

 

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Shruti Bakshi
Shruti Bakshi is the founder of the LivingWise Project. She has worked in international finance and is a certified Hatha yoga instructor.
Books by Shruti:
From Dior to Dharma Yoga, Work & Life

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