Taittiriya Upanishad

Vedanta Society, San Francisco

Swami Tattwamayananda’s exposition of the TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD was given at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California, San Francisco (founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1900) from July 27, 2019, to August 4, 2019, in a series of 9 lectures.

The Taittiriya Upanisad comprise the 7th, 8th, and 9th chapters of the larger Taittiriya Aranyaka that belongs to the Yajur Veda tradition.

All Episodes

This discourse was given on August 4, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda. -The knower of Brahman fears nothing. Swami Trigunatitananda is an example. It is not recklessness.-When we practice tapas, concentration and austerity, the external truth is opened in scientific investigation and spiritual truths are opened when we practice inward concentration.-Verses III.1 – III.5 illustrate Bhrigu’s journey to spiritual realization from gross to subtle.

Aug 2019

1 hr 23 min

This discourse was given on August 3, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda. -The Siksha-Valli contains various Upasanas. -Verse I.9 explains how to interact with all so that we will not disrupt the invisible harmonizing principle.-Verse I.11 is a convocation address for all graduating students, which teaches how to live life keeping these high ideals in mind.-When in doubt about conduct, we should consult the wise elders in our community because correct action varies according to place, time, and other factors.-Verse II.1 explains the nature of Brahman as satyam, existence, jnanam, knowledge, and anantam, infinity. -Verse II.7 explains that we become established in fearlessness, abhayam, when we are established in Ananda-svarupta, our true blissful nature.-There is a distinction between Ananda-maya, being full of bliss and Ananda-svarupa, our true nature of bliss.

Aug 2019

1 hr 32 min

Verses: II.7, II.8, II.6. This discourse was given on August 2, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda.-asat in the context of Verse II.7 means avyakrta, the state before differentiation into name and form. -Four forms of abhava, non-existence, from Nyaya philosophy are explained.-Spiritual life is a journey from many to one. When we no longer feel difference, there is no fear and we experience Ananda in the cave of the heart.-Three examples of saints who had experienced this oneness from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna are given. Some saints keep some ego of the teacher in order to teach mankind.-Without this Ananda, our life is driven by fear. -Shankaracharya says that those who take diversity to be the ultimate principle fight with each other but the Advaitin does not have a quarrel with anybody. -Verse II.8 explains that there is an invisible regulator, sakshi, that is aware and not involved but regulates the whole universe’s mutual coherence.-Verse II.6 explains creation in terms of a creator that has no desire to create because he is already perfect. After creation, he entered into creation and became one with it. -At the experience level, advaitins experience that Brahman exists in everything, and everything exists in Brahman. -The highest devotee, according to the Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad Gita Verse 12.8 sees God in everything and everything in God. -It is this experience of Ananda that grants Abhayam, complete fearlessness. Without it, our life is often driven by the fear of the loss of things that are inherently impermanent and changing.-Fear and anxiety can inspire us to work with a higher motive, this is not a negative feeling of wretchedness but there is joy in a higher pursuit. Buddha’s life is an example.-Asat as referred to in the Chandogya Upanishad should be understood in a different way than in Verse II.7, as it is brought up only to be refuted.-There is an inherent system in the universe which goes beyond himsa and ahimsa. The Bhagavad Gita gives a balanced picture of spirituality. -Vedanta does not propose that the world can be made perfect. A reply is given to a question from an agnostic.

Aug 2019

1 hr 30 min

Verses: II.1, I.9. This discourse was given on August 1, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda.-There are direct and indirect approaches to explaining Brahman. In the direct approach, Brahman is explained from the highest perspective. In the direct approach, the highest is explained in connection with what is already known. Both approaches can only give an approximate explanation.-In Verse II.1, Brahman is described as satyam, existence, jnanam, knowledge, and anantam, infinity. It is existence. The description jnanam, means it is conscious so it rules out the possibility of a mere material reality. The description anantam means infinity which rules out the possibility of a limited perception. Rather, it is the essence of all perception.-The method of Via Negativa of Meister Eckhart, and the seventh verse of the Mandukya Upanishad removes all possible adjectives for Brahman, what is left out is the Reality. -Brahman is beyond the five methods of verbalization.-Brahman is not something manufactured, attained, refined, or as a result of change.-A man is told to count 10 people. He can only count 9 because he is concentrated on the process of counting. He always forgets to count himself. In the same way, we often fail to recognize our true nature and instead identify with the external world.-Maya does not exist Absolutely but what we know intellectually may not be accepted by our mind. -Maya functions through the power of Avarana Shakti, concealment, and Vikshepa Shakti, projection of the false.-The 7 disciplines for realization of Brahman are (1) Viveka – discrimination between the unchanging and the changing, artha and kama must be practiced with dharma with an eye towards moksha (2) Vairagya – re-prioritization towards the longer lasting, real success means realizing the limitations of material success (3) 6 virtues of restraining the senses (4) mumukshuttvam – higher transcendental goal (5) shravana’ (श्रवण), feeding the mind with healthy food (6) `manana’ (मनन), recollection and thought (7) `nididhyasana’ (निदिध्यासन), internalization.-The story of Satyakama and Gautama from the Chandogya Upanishad is narrated to explain how the mind evolves and becomes our own spiritual guide.-When we work with a sense of sanctity and sense (rtam, dharma, satyam), our mind becomes refined and nature because an open book and we evolve.-Many ordinary people are able to work with great Shraddha and become spiritually evolved. It is the quality of the mind that matters most in work. Perfectionism is only a small part of the sense of sanctity.-Three kinds of karma (prarabdha, sanchita, agami) are explained and the dynamics of reincarnation is explained. -Your best friend is happy to help you when you are in trouble, but is also happy when you are happy.-Creative geniuses can get a glimpse of transcendental reality, but yogis are able to stay at that level.-Radical change is possible when we surrender to God.

Aug 2019

1 hr 34 min

Verses: I.9, II.1. This discourse was given on July 31, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda.-Rtam, Satyam, and Dharma are explained.-Svadhyaya and Pravacana are explained.-Vedanta allows us to see all of the world’s traditions from a universal perspective. We expand beyond our immediate interests, needs, and physical body. Our svadharma helps all people.-The four ashramas are reviewed. The importance of learning to retire gracefully is emphasized. 70% of ancient sages were retired householders who knew how to work not out of compulsion.-An indirect way of explaining Brahman, which cannot be explained, is typified by Varuna’s successive instructions relating the ultimate reality to that which we normally understand. -The direct method (swarupa lakshana) method of explaining Brahman, is typified by the discussion between King Janaka and Yajnavaklya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The question is what serves as light for a man and the student is led to understand that the sun, the moon, fire, sound, and the mind all get their light from the Atma, the light of all lights which is self-revealed.-The concept of aparoksha anubhuti, non-indirect experience, is clearly explained in reference to Brahman.-Brahman is beyond the six changes that characterize all entities within time, space, and causation.-Brahman is not the effect of any cause. It is not manufactured, not attained, not the result of a process of refrainment, nor through a process of change. It is de-hypnotization through removal of obstacles. It is returning to our own home.-Two approaches to realization are explained: (1) immediate experience through listening once due to extreme spiritual fitness, (2) 7 disciplines of practice that allow us to gradually increase our fitness.-Life becomes an enjoyable spiritual pilgrimage concentrating on a higher spiritual goal.-Thoreau is cited as an example of a practitioner of tapa, austerity.

Aug 2019

1 hr 25 min

Verses: III.6, II.8, I.11, I.9. This discourse was given on July 30, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda.-Ananda: attaining what ought to have been attained; having done what ought to have been done.-Ananda: the science of inner bliss.-The enjoyment of good health and wealth is very small in comparison to the enjoyment of transcendental bliss.-Transcendental bliss allows spiritual seekers like Prahlada and the Russian pilgrim in the Way of the Pilgrim to see every day as a holy day and handle all difficulties in the world.-Lesson I.11 is a convocation address for students who are to begin living with these transcendental ideas in life. (1) Imbibe what is good from your teachers (2) Respect and serve those who are even more exalted than your teachers (3) Preserve the tradition so that you are spiritually and culturally enriched. (4) Your actions towards your elders are a sacred act.-Lesson I.9 explains that we most always hold to Rtam, doing what which ought to be done and distinguishing between right and wrong. This Rtam preserves the whole universe.-Dharma is this Rtam in practice: it protects and sustains the universe.-Satyam is the philosophical dimension of rtam. -Tapas is intense concentration on your ideal, without which nothing can be achieved.-Svadhyaya and Pravacana are learning the scriptures and transmitting the scriptures. -Sama and Dama is self-restraint, which turns our mind into our tranquil friend, rather than our enemy.-The guest must be honored. A guest is one who comes to your home without prior notice or invitation.

Aug 2019

1 hr 29 min

Verses: III.4, III.5, III.6. This discourse was given on July 29, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda.-Bhrigu and Varuna’s approach to going deeper in spiritual inquiry through tapah, austerity is reviewed. Matter, annam, and life-energy, prana, are the first two stages of Bhrigu’s understanding of Brahman, but he continues his inquiry. -At the next two stages of Bhrigu’s inquiry, he finds that the mind, manas and intellect, vijnana are Brahman. -The definition of the mind, manas, is given, “sankalpa vikalpa antahkarana vritti.” It reflects on and determines what the objects are. -The antahkarana is analyzed into the functions of ahamkara, chittam, manas, and buddhi-The intellect and the mind reflect the Atman. Depending on the samskaras stored in the chittam, they are able to reflect the Atman more or less clearly.-Finally, at the fifth stage, Bhrigu realizes Ananda, bliss, as Brahman. This Ananda does not refer to the Anandamaya-kosha, which is the bliss of enjoyment of the world. It is an unconditioned Ananda, which is our home. -In deep sleep, this bliss is experienced because the faculty of experiencing duality is benumbed. In Samadhi, this bliss is experienced with awareness and we transcend duality. -An Advaitin sees that he is one with the whole humanity so he has no quarrel with anybody. -The language of Samadhi is silence, mind and intellect come back from Samadhi empty-handed. -We are then able to see the changing as changing so that all anxieties are gone. We no longer interpret ourselves as the changing phenomenon of mind and matter. It is not a life negating philosophy but rather it allows us to work in the world without being shocked at its inherent imperfection. -At the philosophical level, the world is changing, and Brahman is Real. At the experience level, the so-called world is seen as Brahman, so the world is also seen as real, but as Brahman.-Some texts, such as Yoga Vasistha explain Brahman from the highest perspective where everything is seen as Brahman. Shankaracharya’s work also explains ways to reach the highest perspective starting from where we are in our evolution.-To change our life, we can create healthy samskaras through constant thinking of these higher ideas. Our mind changes and we evolve.

Aug 2019

1 hr 29 min

Verses: I.1, III.1, III.2, III.3. This discourse was given on July 28, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda.-God is the one all-pervading spiritual reality.-The five stages of the evolution of Godhead: pantheism, panentheism, polytheism, monotheism, monism.-After inquiry, Bhrigu the young boy is instructed by his father Varuna: seek to know that from which all things are born, by which they remain alive, and into which, by departing, they enter.-Varuna’s approach to teaching is indirect. He begins by teaching what is in front of us: food, air, sight, hearing, mind, and speech and asking the disciple to inquire deeper through tapah.-Shankaracharya explains that tapah, austerity, means withdrawing from external senses and focusing on one ideal. Buddha’s example is given. All other great achievements are a result of this tapah.-Yudisthara’s said that the greatest wonder is that even though living beings are dying every moment, we forget and think we will live forever.-Bhrigu’s first discovers that matter seems to be Brahman. This is the conclusion of material scientists. But he himself realizes that this can’t be correct. Sri Ramakrishna’s parable of the woodcutter explains the importance of going deeper into spiritual inquiry. Sincere inquiry and tapa naturally led to Bhrigu’s realization of the need to go further. This doubt, parinama duhkha in Patanjal’s Yoga Sutras, is a force that propels you forward in spiritual life.-At the next stage Bhrigu realizes that prana, life force, is Brahman. He again asks his father for instruction. When the mind is pure, the mind becomes your spiritual teacher.-Both prana and matter are changing so they are still not the ultimate principle.-In Bhakti, this tapah can be understood as self-surrender, prapatti.-Tapah without a spiritual ideal can be lead to aberrations. A spiritual ideal, and ethical disciplines such as yamas and niyamas, close negative channels and help us to evolve an inner filter mechanism that protects us.

Aug 2019

1 hr 24 min

Verses: I.1, I.11. This discourse was given on July 27, 2019 at the Lake Tahoe Retreat run by the Vedanta Society of Northern California by Swami Tattwamayananda.-Triple foundation of Indian philosophy: (1) Upanishads, which form the foundation (2) Gita, which provides the interpretation and (3) Brahmasutras, which provides the logical analysis-Initially, there was one Veda. Vyasa classified into four groups: Rig veda, Yajur veda, Sama veda and Atharva veda. Taittiriya Upanishad belongs to Yajur veda.-Story of Yajnavalkya is discussed in the context of Krishna-yajur-veda and Shukla-yajur-veda.-Each veda has 4 divisions: (1) Samhitas (2) Brahmanas (3) Aranyakas and (4) Upanishads.-Upanishads are the essence of the Vedas and constitute philosophical ideas that are relevant to people from all religions and cultures.-There are 31 anuvakas in Taittiriya Upanishad.-Taittiriya Upanishad starts with a prayer to Vedic deities, such as Mitra, Varuna, Vayu and Indra. All deities are different manifestations of one Absolute Reality. The seeker asks for inner joy and spiritual common sense to pursue the path of truth and dharma.-Lesson 11 is discussed: Instruction from teacher to departing students. Speak the truth and practice dharma. Dharma is the most important value when conducting duties in the world, and is the regulating principle behind artha and kama.-A householder should work hard to earn wealth through proper means for the good of society – that way, he pursues the path of dharma. He should also take necessary actions for self-preservation.-Vivekananda emphasized the harmony of “best of modern technology” and “best of spiritual values”.-Guru-dakshina is discussed. If we get something for free, we fail to appreciate its full value.-An ideal person should respect his parents, teachers and guests with the same reverence as god.-Obligations in ascending order are discussed: (1) to yourself (2) to members of family (3) to society and (4) to ancient sages.-A householder has a duty to teach the next generation. This is his way of paying back the debt to his teachers and ancient sages and preserving the parampara.-Families and societies collapse when there is a lack of sanctity.-Spirituality can be practiced in the midst of secular activities.-Charitable practices, by themselves, are not enough. They need to be complemented by individual sadhana.-A person or country that only receives and never gives back remains a debtor and fails to develop their own resources.-One should refrain from commenting or criticizing Vedic scriptures unless they have learned their essence from a true master.

Aug 2019

1 hr 24 min