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Yajnavalkya's Characterization of the Atman and the Four Kinds of Suffering in Early Buddhism - Toshifumi Goto

Yajnavalkya's Characterization of the Atman and the Four Kinds of Suffering in Early Buddhism - Toshifumi Goto

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Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies (EJVS) 12-2, July 2005, 71
85 (©) ISSN 1084-7561
Y
ā
 jñavalkya’s Characterization of the
Ā
tmanand the Four Kinds of Suffering in early Buddhism
1
 
Toshifumi G
OT
Ō
 
1.1.
Books III and IV of the B
Ö
r
had
ā
ra
ú
yaka-Upani
Þ
ad [B
Ā
U]
2
, traditionally entitled“Y
ā
 jñavalkya-K 
ā
ṇḍ
a”, form a consistent legend as a whole, a quasi drama about this sage.Their contents are closely connected with materials, which are found in Volume X and XI of the
Ś
atapatha-Br 
ā
hma
a [
Ś
B] and Book II of the B
Ā
U.
Book III can be regarded as a kind of summary of the preceding opinions in the history of speculation on
 púru
Þ
a-
,
bráhma
ú
-
and
ā
tmán-
. It is dramatized into a scene of the Brahmodya(theological disputation) held by King Janaka in which famous priest-scholars participate, amongthem Y
ā
 jñavalkya and
Śā
kalya. This framework as well as some parts of its contents (e.g. questionsabout the number of the gods: III 9,1–9) are based on
Ś
atapatha-Br 
ā
hma
ú
a XI 6,3 (~Jaimin
 ī 
ya-Br 
ā
hma
ú
a [JB] II 76f.). The Puru
Þ
a-doctrine of Vidagdha
Śā
kalya (III 9,10–17) reflects theone which D
 ptab
ā
l
ā
ki G
ā
rgya represents before King Aj
ā
ta
ś
atru in B
Ā
U II 1,2–13.Book IV consists of three dialogues: two between Y
ā
 jñavalkya and King Janaka (Chapters 1–2 and3–4) and one between Y
ā
 jñavalkya and his wife Maitrey
 ī 
on the occasion of his renunciation(
 pra-vraj
) of the world (Chapter 5). This last one seems to have been taken from B
Ā
U II 4. The Book is based on the whole upon the discussion about the Agnihotra-offering including Janaka’sFive-Fire-Doctrine in
Ś
B XI 6,2. Its traces are clearly observed especially in the explanation of Puru
ù
a and Vir 
ā
 j (IV 2,2–4) at the opening of the second dialogue (IV 3,1), and in the questions about
 jyóti
‘light’ (IV 3,2–7). Y
ā
 jñavalkya’s denial of the necessity of a son in III 5,1 and IV 4,26 (in theK[
ā
va recension] 22) as well as his renunciation of the world in IV 5,2; 25 (K 2; 15) can be regardedas a counterstroke to Janaka’s conclusion in his Five-Fire-Doctrine (
Ś
B XI 6,2,10), which identifiesthe daily deeds in the secular life with the Agnihotra-offering itself. —— As further possiblesources of components of this Book are:
Ś
B X 5,2 (mystiques on the Agnicayana) for the theory of the Puru
Þ
a in the right eye (IV 2,2–3) via B
Ā
U II 3; Aj
ā
ta
ś
atru’s doctrine (B
Ā
U II 3) on thespeculation about sleep (IV 3);
Ś
B X 6,3 (
Śā
ṇḍ
ilya’s teaching) for the qualification of the
Ā
tman
1
The paper is based on the author’s article in Japanese “Y
ā
 jñavalkya no
ā
tmán
- no keiy
ō
go to Buddha noshiku”,
 Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies
44-2 (1996) pp. 887–879. This present form is a revisedand enlarged version, based on discussions with Junko S
AKAMOTO
-G
OT
Ō
and her articles, especially:“Das Jenseits und
i
ṣṭ 
ā
-p
ū
rtá-
‘Wirkung des Geopferten-und-Geschenkten’ in der vedischen Religion”,
 Indoarisch, Iranisch und die Indogermanistik 
. Arbeitstagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft vom 2. bis 5. Oktober 1997 in Erlangen, Wiesbaden 2000, pp.475–490, cf. also her article with the same title inJapanese in
 Indoshis
ō
to bukky
ō
bunka
(
 Indian Thoughts and Buddhist Culture
). Essays in Honour of Professor Junkichi Imanishi on His Sixtieth Birthday, T
ō
ky
ō
1996, pp. 862–882. The manuscript wasoriginally written in the spring of 2000 for an omnibus volume of Japanese Indology which has not yet been published till today.
2
B
Ö
r
had
ā
ra
ú
yaka-Upani
Þ
ad is transmitted in two recensions: M
ā
dhyandina (M) and K 
ā
ú
va (K). The citationsin this paper rest on the M
ā
dhyandina recension, which is deemed on the whole more original than the K 
ā
ú
va,concerning the matters relevant to the subject.
 
Toshifumi G
OT
Ō
 
72
(M[
ā
dhyandina recension] IV 4,6f., K 5f.)
3
.The famous formula
 sá e
Þ
á néti néti
ā
tm
 
 
‘That is this (well known)
ā
tman
[which is described]“not ...”, “not ...” ’ (see below, citation 2) appears in III 9,28 (K 26), IV 2,6 (K 4), IV 4,27 (K 22), andonce more, only in the K 
ā
va IV 5,15, always concluding a discussion. This phrase whichcharacterizes the Y
ā
 jñavalkya-K 
ā
ṇḍ
a also seems to issue from Book II:
áth
 
ta
ā
de
 ś
á
 
|
néti néti. náhy ètásm
ā
d íti néty anyát páram ásti
‘Then the assertion (what it is) [of this,
Ā
tman =
bráhma
-
=
 púru
a
-] is: “not ... ”, “not ...”. Because there is beyond this one no other thing [that could be called]“so (: this is ... )” [nor] “not so (: this is not ... )” ’ (M II 3,11, K 6). This sentence in B
Ā
U II remindsus once again of the concluding word in Janaka’s Five-Fire-Doctrine:
n
 
ta
»
páram ast 
 
ti hov
ā
ca
 ‘There is nothing beyond this’, said [Janaka]’ (
Ś
B XI 6,2,10).
1.2.
The leitmotiv of the two dialogues between Y
ā
 jñavalkya and Janaka (IV 1–2, and3–4) is the fear about one’s state after death,
4
as shown also in the legend of Bh
gu (see below
3.
). This theme appears clearly in the somewhat ironical question of Y
ā
 jñavalkya,which, placed in the middle of the first dialogue, introduces his teaching:
(1) B
Ā
U-M IV 2,1 (
Ś
B XIV 6,11,1) ~ B
Ā
U-K IV 2, 1...
 yáth
ā
vái samr 
ā
ú
mah
 
ntam ádhv
ā
nam e
 yán rátha
v
ā
n
 
va
v
ā
sam
ā
dád 
ī 
taivám evàit 
 
bhir upani
ádbhi
sam
 
hit 
ā
tm
ā
 sy. evá
v
  
nd 
ā
raka
ā
ḍ 
hyá
sánn adh
ī 
tavéda uktópani
atka itóvimucyám
ā
na
kvà gami
 yas
 
ti. n
tád bhagavan veda yátra gami
 y
 
m
 
ty. átha vái te
tád vak 
 y
ā
mi yátra gami
 yás
 
ti. bráv
ī 
tu bhágav
ā
n íti.
||[Y
ā
 jñavalkya said:] “As indeed, oh great king, he who is going to make a long journey would take up achariot or a ship to himself, just so you are the one whose self (
ā
tman-
) is equipped with these profound theories (
upani
ad-
). Standing thus at the top [of the people] [and] wealthy, where will yougo as the one who has learned the Veda [and] been taught the Upani
Þ
ad, when you are released fromthis world?”. [Janaka said:] “I don’t know, sir, where I will go to”. [Y
ā
 jñavalkya:] “Then I will verilytell you where you will go to”. [Janaka:] “You, sir, shall please speak”.
The clever king, thirsting for the knowledge through which one can release oneself fromthis fear, forces Y
ā
 jñavalkya with skillful questions step by step to reveal his more profoundand elevated doctrine about
Ā
tman. Thus, both dialogues are concluded with Y
ā
 jñavalkya’sconfirmation that the king has reached
ábhaya-
(nt.) ‘absense of fear, freedom from fear’. The
3
Cf. T. G
OT
Ō
, “Zur Lehre
Śā
ṇḍ
ilyas —Zwischen Br 
ā
hma
a und Upani
ad—” (
 Langue, style et structuredans le monde indien
. Centenaire de Louis Renou. Actes du Colloque international, Paris, 25–27 janvier 1996, éd. N. Balbir et G.-J. Pinault, Paris 1996 [1997], pp. 71–89) p. 81. (The same title appeared inJapanese in:
 Indoshis
ō
to bukky
ō
bunka
. Essays in Honour of Professor Imanishi [see n.1], pp. 844–860.).
4
In this respect, we notice a striking resemblance between B
Ā
U IV and the dialogue of Buddha andAj
ā
tasattu (Aj
ā
ta
ś
atru) in the S
ā
maññaphalasutta (D
 ī 
ghanik 
ā
ya II in P
ā
li). P. D
EUSSEN
,
Sechzig Upani- shad 
 s des Veda
(1897,
3
1938) p. 456, has already pointed out the possibility that the opening part of the“six heretics” of the S
ā
maññaphalasutta may have been modeled after the style of B
Ā
U IV 1(–2), wherethe opinions of the six masters about the question ‘What is
brahman
’ are introduced by the king in adialogue with Y
ā
 jñavalkya. The similarity between the two stories is, however, not restricted to their framework, but also to their chief motive. What both kings seek for is to overcome the fear about one’sstate after death. Cf. also J. S
AKAMOTO
-G
OT
Ō
,
 Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies
49-2 (2001)958–953.
 
Y
ā
 jñavalkya’s...
Ā
tman and the four kinds of suffering...
73king rewards him for this with his kingdom and himself. The first dialogue closes as follows:
(2) B
Ā
U-M IV 2,6 (
Ś
B XIV 6,11,6) ~ B
Ā
U-K IV 2,4
 sá e
á néti néty
ā
tm
 
.
 
|
ág 
 Ö
rhyo ná hí g 
 Ö
rhyáté 
,
 
 śī 
ryo ná hí 
 ś
$Î
iryaté 
,
 
 sa
º
 gó
 sito ná sajyáte návyáthaté 
.
 
á 
bhaya 
ṃ 
vái janaka pr 
ā
 ptò
 s
 
iti hov
ā
ca y
ā
 jñavalkya
.
sá hov
ā
ca janakó váideho
.
námas te y
ā
 jñavalky
 
-.
 
á 
bhaya 
ṃ 
tv
 
gacchat 
ā
d yó no bhagavann
ábhaya 
ṃ 
vedáyasa
.
imé videh
 
ayám ahámasm
 
ti
. ||“That is the self [in issue] [that is described as] “not ... ”, “not ...” . [It is] not to be grasped, for it is notgrasped; not to be broken, for it does not break; without attachment, unbound, it does not cling, nor stagger.
5
The freedom from fear, verily, oh Janaka, you have [already] reached”, said Y
ā
 jñavalkya.Then said Janaka, the chief of the Videha: “Homage to you, oh Y
ā
 jñavalkya. The freedom from fear shall go (come) to you, sir, who makes us know the freedom from fear. Here are the [people of]Videha; here I am [for you]”.
At the end of the second dialogue this key-word
ábhaya-
appears once again and isidentified with
bráhma
-
(nt.). It deserves attention that an adjective
abháya-
‘not-beingafraid, unfearing’ is used beside the neuter 
ábhaya
- ‘absence of, freedom from fear’ in thesame passage (cf. n.12):
(3) B
Ā
U-M IV 4,29–31 (
Ś
B XIV 7,2,29–31) ~ B
Ā
U-K IV 4,23–25
6
 
 sá v
 
e
Þ
á mah
 
n ajá
ā
tm
 
 
|
ann
ā
(
ā
tm
nn
ā
)
vasud 
 
na
»
. sá yó haivám ann
ā
μ
vasud 
 
na
μ
véda,vindáte
7
 
vásu. ||
29||
 sá v
 
e
Þ
á mah
 
n ajá
ā
tm
 
 
|
ajáro
(
ā
tm
 járo
)
máro
bháyo
m
  
to bráhm
 
-.
á
bhaya
vái janaka pr 
 
 pto
 s
 
ti y
 
 jñavalkya
»
.
μ
bhágavate videh
 
n dad 
ā
mi m
ṃ
c
 
 pi sahá
 
 sy
ā
 yéti.
||30||
 sá v
 
e
á mah
 
n ajá
ā
tm
 
 
|
ajáro
(
ā
tm
 járo
)
 
máro
bháyo
m
  
to bráhm
 
-.
á
bhaya
μ
 vái bráhm
 
-.
á
bhaya
hí vái bráhma bhávati yá evá
véda.
||31||“As such, verily, this great unborn
8
 
ā
tman
9
is a food-eater, a wealth-giver. The one, who knows the
5
For this phrase cf. T. G
OT
Ō
, “Ai.
utsa
º
 gá-
und Verwandtes” (
Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 
, 39,1980, pp. 11–36), p. 27 with notes.
6
The order of sections and the wording are different in the K 
ā
ú
va recension: K IV 4,23 (~ M IV 4,30)
e
Þ
abrahmaloka
»
samr 
ā
¶ 
ena
μ
pr 
ā
 pito
 s
ī 
ti hov
ā
ca y
ā
 jñavalkya
»
. so
ha
μ
bhagavate videh
ā
n dad 
ā
mi m
ā
μ
c
ā
 pi saha d 
ā
 sy
ā
 yeti
. Section 24 is nearly equivalent to M IV 4,28–29. Section 25 (~ M IV 4,31)
 sa v
ā
e
Þ
a mah
ā
naja
ā
tm
ā
 jaro
maro
m
 Ö
rto
bhayo brahm
a
ā
-.
a
bhaya
μ
vai brahm
a
ā
-.
a
bhaya
û
hi vai brahma bhavati ya eva
μ
 veda
. —— In K IV 4,23 appears
 pr 
ā
 pito
‘made to arrive’ (VAdj. of the causative) for M
 pr 
ā
 ptó
. The 18 Up.(Ed. L
IMAYE
 –V
ADEKAR 
) supplies a da
õó
a ( | ) behind
 samr 
ā
 Ê 
and considers
ena
μ
to be the beginning of thenext sentence.
enam
is, however, an enclitic, which ought to be found at the second position in a sentence. The punctuation might rather be before
 samr 
ā
¶ 
, but the position just behind the vocative is also regarded as the beginning of a sentence. In any case, we have here an exceptional sentence structure, cf. T. G
OT
Ō
, “Zur Geschichte vom König J
ā
na
ś
ruti Pautr 
ā
ya
a (Ch
ā
ndogya-Upani
Þ
ad IV 1–3)” (
Studien zur Indologie und  Iranistik 
20, Festschrift Paul Thieme, 1996, pp. 89–115) p.94 n.13.
7
When a main clause following a relative clause begins with a verb, the verb has the accent (
i.e.
it has avalue of the sentence beginning). See examples in A. M
INARD
,
 La Subordination dans la Prose Védique
,Paris 1936, pp. 180f.: §658.
8
What is not born will not die.
ajá-
denotes a nature beyond genesis and termination (in opposition to theaxiom: those which have been made are impermanent). This is attested as an essential attribute of a universal principle already in the
V.

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