Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/247

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teacher named Āgniveçya; the third part, which consists of all kinds of supplementary matter, being subsequently added. These lists further make the conclusion probable that the leading teachers of the ritual tradition (Brāhmaṇas) were different from those of the philosophical tradition (Upanishads).

Beginning with an allegorical interpretation of the most important sacrifice, the Açvamedha (horse-sacrifice), as the universe, the first chapter proceeds to deal with prāṇa (breath) as a symbol of soul, and then with the creation of the world out of the Ātman or Brahma, insisting on the dependence of all existence on the Supreme Soul, which appears in every individual as his self. The polemical attitude adopted against the worship of the gods is characteristic, showing that the passage belongs to an early period, in which the doctrine of the superiority of the Ātman to the gods was still asserting itself. The next chapter deals with the nature of the Ātman and its manifestations, purusha and prāṇa.

The second part of the Upanishad consists of four philosophical discussions, in which Yājnavalkya is the chief speaker. The first (iii. 1-9) is a great disputation, in which the sage proves his superiority to nine successive interlocutors. One of the most interesting conclusions here arrived at is that Brahma is theoretically unknowable, but can be comprehended practically. The second discourse is a dialogue between King Janaka and Yājnavalkya, in which the latter shows the untenableness of six definitions set up by other teachers as to the nature of Brahma; for instance, that it is identical with Breath or Mind. He finally declares that the Ātman can only be described negatively, being intangible, indestructible, independent, immovable.