12. And on account of distinctive qualities.
Everywhere in that section we meet with statements of distinctive attributes of the two Selfs, the highest Self
being represented as the object of meditation and attainment, and the individual Self as the meditating and attaining subject. The passage 'When he has known and understood that which is born from Brahman, the intelligent, to be divine and venerable, then he obtains everlasting peace' (I, 1, 17) refers to the meditating individual soul which recognises itself as being of the nature of Brahman. On the other hand, I, 3, 2, 'That which is a bridge for sacrificers. the highest imperishable Brahman for those who wish to cross over to the fearless shore, the Nâkiketa, may we be able to know that,' refers to the highest Self as the object of meditation; 'Nâkiketa' here meaning that which is to be reached through the Nâkiketa-rite. Again, the passage 'Know the Self to be sitting in the chariot and the body to be the chariot' (I, 3, 3) refers to the meditating individual soul; and the verse, I, 3, 9, 'But he who has understanding for his charioteer, and holds the reins of the mind, he reaches the end of his journey, and that is the highest place of Vishnu.' refers to the embodied and the highest Selfs as that which attains and that which is to be attained. And in the text under discussion also (I, 3, 1), the two Selfs are distinctly designated as light and shade, the one being all-knowing, the other devoid of knowledge.
But, a new objection is raised, the initial passage, I, 1, 20, 'That doubt which there is when a man is dead--some saying, he is; others, he is not,' clearly asks a question as to the true nature of the individual soul, and we hence conclude that that soul forms the topic of the whole chapter.--Not so, we reply. That question does not spring from any doubt as to the existence or non-existence of the soul apart from the body; for if this were so the two first boons chosen by Nâkiketas would be unsuitable. For the story runs as follows: When the sacrifice offered by the father of Nâkiketas--at which all the possessions of the sacrificcr were to be given to the priests--is drawing towards its close, the boy, feeling afraid that some deficiency on the part of the gifts might render the sacrifice unavailing, and dutifully wishing to render his father's sacrifice complete by giving his own person also, repeatedly asks
his father, 'And to whom will you give me'? The father, irritated by the boy's persistent questioning, gives an angry reply, and in consequence of this the boy goes to the palace of Yama, and Yama being absent, stays there for three days without eating. Yama on his return is alarmed at this neglect of hospitality, and wishing to make up for it allows him to choose three boons. Nâkiketas, thereupon, full of faith and piety, chooses as his first boon that his father should forgive him. Now it is clear that conduct of this kind would not be possible in the case of one not convinced of the soul having an existence independent of the body. For his second boon, again, he chooses the knowledge of a sacrificial fire, which has a result to be experienced only by a soul that has departed from the body; and this choice also can clearly be made only by one who knows that the soul is something different from the body. When, therefore, he chooses for his third boon the clearing up of his doubt as to the existence of the soul after death (as stated in v. 20), it is evident that his question is prompted by the desire to acquire knowledge of the true nature of the highest Self--which knowledge has the form of meditation on the highest Self--, and by means thereof, knowledge of the true nature of final Release which consists in obtaining the highest Brahman. The passage, therefore, is not concerned merely with the problem as to the separation of the soul from the body, but rather with the problem of the Self freeing itself from all bondage whatever--the same problem, in fact, with which another scriptural passage also is concerned, viz. 'When he has departed there is no more knowledge' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 12). The full purport of Nâkiketas' question, therefore, is as follows: When a man qualified for Release has died and thus freed himself from all bondage, there arises a doubt as to his existence or non-existence--a doubt due to the disagreement of philosophers as to the true nature of Release; in order to clear up this doubt I wish to learn from thee the true nature of the state of Release.--Philosophers, indeed, hold many widely differing opinions as to what constitutes Release. Some hold that the Self is constituted
by consciousness only, and that Release consists in the total destruction of this essential nature of the Self. Others, while holding the same opinion as to the nature of the Self, define Release as the passing away of Nescience (avidyâ). Others hold that the Self is in itself non-sentient, like a stone, but possesses, in the state of bondage, certain distinctive qualities, such as knowledge, and so on. Release then consists in the total removal of all these qualities, the Self remaining in a state of pure isolation (kaivalya). Others, again, who acknowledge a highest Self free from all imperfection, maintain that through connexion with limiting adjuncts that Self enters on the condition of an individual soul; Release then means the pure existence of the highest Self, consequent on the passing away of the limiting adjuncts. Those, however, who understand the Vedânta, teach as follows: There is a highest Brahman which is the sole cause of the entire universe, which is antagonistic to all evil, whose essential nature is infinite knowledge and blessedness, which comprises within itself numberless auspicious qualities of supreme excellence, which is different in nature from all other beings, and which constitutes the inner Self of all. Of this Brahman, the individual souls--whose true nature is unlimited knowledge, and whose only essential attribute is the intuition of the supreme Self--are modes, in so far, namely, as they constitute its body. The true nature of these souls is, however, obscured by Nescience, i.e. the influence of the beginningless chain of works; and by Release then we have to understand that intuition of the highest Self, which is the natural state of the individual souls, and which follows on the destruction of Nescience.--When Nâkiketas desires Yama graciously to teach him the true nature of Release and the means to attain it, Yama at first tests him by dwelling on the difficulty of comprehending Release, and by tempting him with various worldly enjoyments. But having in this way recognised the boy's thorough fitness, he in the end instructs him as to the kind of meditation on the highest Self which constitutes knowledge of the highest Reality, as to the nature of Release--which consists in
reaching the abode of the highest Self--, and as to all the required details. This instruction begins, I, 2, 12, 'The Ancient one who is difficult to see,' &c., and extends up to I, 3, 9. 'and that is the highest place of Vishnu.'--It thus is an established conclusion that the 'eater' is no other than the highest Self.--Here terminates the adhikarana of 'the eater.'