Brahmanandavalli: Exploring the Nature of Brahman

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, Chapter One (first part):  “Hari OM.  Together may He protect us, together may He possess us, together may we make unto us strength and virility!  May our study be full to us of light and power!  May we never hate!  OM!  Peace! Peace! Peace.”

“OM.  The knower of Brahman attaineth the Highest; for this is the verse that was declared of old, ‘Brahman is Truth, Brahman is Knowledge, Brahman is the Infinite, he that findeth Him hidden in the cavern heart of being; in the highest heaven of His creatures, lo, he enjoyeth all desire and he abideth with the Eternal, even with that cognisant and understanding Spirit.’ ”

The Brahmanandavalli begins with an invocation of peace.  This invocation sets the tone and focus of the participants and thus, is an essential element of the teaching.  There is a call for unity of purpose, strength of action and harmonious relations between the teacher and the disciples.

The nature of Brahman is the subject of this section of the Taittiriya Upanishad as it systematically explores both the ultimate characteristics of Brahman, and the manner in which Brahman undertakes the manifestation of the universal creation.  This section in particular explores the sheathes or layers of consciousness, a unique and important contribution to spiritual science.

Brahman is described as having the nature of Truth, Knowledge and Infinity.  The knower of Brahman is described as enjoying all desire and abiding in Brahman.  This overview provides a perspective for understanding what follows as the seer delves into the details for the disciples’ benefit.

Sri M. P. Pandit elucidates further:  “Brahman is That which exists fundamentally, the Sole Truth from which all existences derive their ultimate significance. ‘Whatever reality is in existence by which all the rest subsists, that is Brahman.  An Eternal behind all instabilities, a Truth of things which is implied, if it is hidden in all appearances, a Constant which supports all mutations, but is not increased, diminished, abnegated.’, that is Brahman.  But not that alone.  Brahman is not merely the substratum of Truth that underlies all existence.  It is also Knowledge, the Truth-awareness, the Consciousness that is inherent in the Truth-Being, and is spontaneously in possession of the truth of all things — absolute and supreme Knowledge.  It is Knowledge one with its content, and its content embraces All since there is nothing outside this Self-aware Existence.  And It is the Infinite.  Brahman is ananta, endless.  Its endlessness includes, as Sri Aurobindo points out, all kinds of infinity.  It is limited neither by Time nor space both of which are only terms of Its manifestation.  And more. ‘For by the Infinite we do not mean solely an illimitable self-extension in Space and Time, but something that is also spaceless and timeless, a self-existent Indefinable and Illimitable which can express itself in the infinitesimal as well as the vast, in a second of time, in a point of space, in a passing circumstance.’  It is not bound or limited either by the laws of Causality to which all phenomena are subject; there is absolute freedom in the immutability of Brahman.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmanandavalli, pp.265-274, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 109-182