Cognitions: Human and Divine

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 10, part 2: “As prosperity in speech, as getting and having in the main breath and the nether, as work in the hands, as movement in the feet, as discharge in the anus, these are the cognitions in the human.  Then in the divine; as satisfaction in the rain, as force in the lightning, as splendour in the beasts, as brightness in the constellations, as procreation and bliss and death conquered in the organ of pleasure, as the All in Ether.”

We see here a number of insights, themes for consideration, for recognising the Divine in the human being and in the world of creation.  Some notes on the translation may be helpful.  The term used for prosperity, ksema,  conveys a sense of safety and well-being that does not come through fully in the English translation.  Sanskrit terms frequently carry an inference that is hard to capture when they are being translated.  Each of the terms representing human cognition here are active relationships to the outer world.  The human being participates in the world and contributes to it.  This may be through the use of speech, through breath, through work or movement, or in recycling materials back into the world to continue the interactive and symbiotic relationship of all beings.

Divine cognitions address the status in the outer world.  Rain brings fruitful growth.  When rain follows a dry spell, we experience a sense of release, of satisfaction, that corresponds with the results that rain produces.  Some commentators hold that the segment “as procreation and bliss and death conquered in the organ of pleasure”  should actually be in the human cognitions; however, the action here is one that is supportive of the divine world action and extension of human life across multiple generations for continued action into the future.

The traditional commentators recommend contemplation on each of these elements as a way of understanding the Brahman as the creative power of the universal manifestation.  There is considerable depth and subtlety of sense that can be appreciated and understood through such a practice.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182