Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/115

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FIRST Khanda[1].

1. Let a man meditate on the syllable[2] Om, called the udgîtha; for the udgîtha (a portion of the Sâma-veda) is sung, beginning with Om. The full account, however, of Om is this:—

2. The essence[3] of all beings is the earth, the essence of the earth is water, the essence of water

  1. The Khândogya-upanishad begins with recommending meditation on the syllable Om, a sacred syllable that had to be pronounced at the beginning of each Veda and of every recitation of Vedic hymns. As connected with the Sâma-veda, that syllable Om is called udgîtha. Its more usual name is pranava. The object of the Upanishad is to explain the various meanings which the syllable Om may assume in the mind of a devotee, some of them being extremely artificial and senseless, till at last the highest meaning of Om is reached, viz. Brahman, the intelligent cause of the universe.
  2. Akshara means both syllable and the imperishable, i.e. Brahman.
  3. Essence, rasa, is explained in different ways, as origin, support, end, cause, and effect. Rasa means originally the sap of trees. That sap may be conceived either as the essence extracted from the tree, or as what gives vigour and life to a tree. In the former case it might be transferred to the conception of effect, in the latter to that of cause. In our sentence it has sometimes the one, sometimes the other meaning. Earth is the support of all beings, water pervades the earth, plants arise from water, man lives by plants, speech is the best part of man, the Rig-veda the best part of speech, the Sâma-veda the best extract from the Rik, udgîtha, or the syllable Om, the crown of the Sâma-veda.