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Aitareya Upanishad - Sloka 5 - prajnAnAm brahma

The series of 'jnA' - the 'to know'

  1. jnA is knowing
  2. pra-jnA means before knowing or the 'first' of knowing, the 'prominent' knowing etc.
    1. prajnA is awareness. It is the stage before 'knowing'.
    2. It is the 'first' of the series of knowings. A stage of just awareness.
    3. prajnA is just the basic awareness with an entity of it being an entity.
    4. Because it is the foremost, first of the knowing, it is called pra-jnA.
  3. jnAna is the physically/practically knowing.
  4. vi-jnAna is logically knowing. Here the prefix 'vi' adds stress to the knowing and takes to the next level of 'knowing' which is logically knowing.
  5. ajnAnana is not knowing.

Sloka 5.1

ko 'yam atmeti vayam upasmahe sa atma yena va pasyati yena va srnoti yena va gandhan ajighrati yena va vacam vyakaroti yena va svadu casvadu ca vijanati.

Who this atma worshiped by us..? Is that one that sees, that hears, that smells the fragrances, that manifests/differentiates the speech, that differentiates between tasteful and tasteless..?

The question asked here is who is that Atma..? Is the Atma the one that sees, hears, smells, speaks or tastes..?

Sloka 5.2

yad etadd hrdayam manas ca etat samjnanam ajnanam vijnanam prajnanam medha drstir dhrtir matir manisa jutih smrtih sankalpah kratur asuh kamo vasa iti sarvany evaitani prajnanasya namadheyani bhavanti.


Which/Where this Heart (hrdaya) and Mind (manas), this physically knowing (samjnAna), not knowing (ajnAna), logically analysing (vijnAna), concluding/decision making (prajnAna), information digesting/nourishing (medhA), ability to perceive (drstir), Constancy (dhrtir), wish (mati), ability to think (maniSa), instincts (jutih), storing information in memory (smrti), executing actions (sankalpah), kratu (plan, design, intention), breathing/metabolism (asuh), desire/love (kAma) , in the grip/control/influence of (vaza) all these become the name held by those /given to those with prajna (prajnan asya)

Which heart and mind has

  1. Physical knowing (jnAna)
  2. Not knowing (ajnAna)
  3. Logical knowing (vi jnAna)
  4. Awareness (pra jnAna)
  5. Information digesting/nourishing (medhA)
  6. Perception (drSti)
  7. Constancy, ability to pursue (dhRti)
  8. Wish/Opinion/Ideas (mati)
  9. Think (Analyze ideas and opinions) (maniSa)
  10. Instincts (jutih)
  11. Memory (smrti)
  12. Executing actions (saMkalpa)
  13. Designing (kratu)
  14. Breathing/metabolism (asuh)
  15. Excitations (kAma)
  16. Attraction (vaza)

All these become the name given to those with prajnA.

prajnA is the basic awareness with an entity of it being an entity. Because the awareness is the foremost, first of the knowing, it is called pra-jnA. Call it the basic consciousness in human parlance. Prajna, the awareness is the basic requirement for all other faculties detailed above.

We know prajnA in a biological being. It is the 'awareness' of an entity being so. Is there an awareness in all the matter and beings of this Universe..? If so what is that awareness..? That is explained in the next sloka.

Sloka 5.3

esa brahmaisa indra esa prajapatir ete sarve deva imani ca panca maha-bhutani prthivi vayur akasa apo jyotimsity etanimani ca ksudra-misraniva. bijanitarani cetarani canda-jani ca jaru-jani ca sveda-jani codbhij-jani casva gavah purusa hastino yat kincedam prani jangamam ca patatri ca yac ca sthavaram

sarvam tat prajna-netram prajnane pratisthitam prajna-netro lokah prajna pratistha prajnanam brahma


All these Brahma, Indra, Prajapati, all the devas, the five great bhuta (prthvi, vayu, akAsa, Apa, jyoti), minutive, mixed, those born of an egg, of a womb, of sweat and of a sprout, the horses, cows, human beings, elephants—whatever breathes here, whether moving on legs or flying in the air or unmoving, all that guided/lead by prajna, all situated on prajna, the worlds guided by prajnA; Brahman is situated as prajnA.

Evolutionary (Brahman) awareness in all matter and beings

Like in a human body, the fundamental faculty that is required for all other faculties to be built is the faculty of prajnA, the basic awareness/consciousness, the fundamental faculty required in all the matter and beings of the Universe is Brahman. Brahman is the prajnA in the Universe.

Brahman does ati-sRsti, the evolution. In the Universe, evolution manifests as the prajnA, the awareness in all matter and beings. In other words, the 'evolutionary zeal' of Universe is similar to our prajna. It manifests in all matter and beings.

All matter and being have this awareness or prajnA of brahman, the evolution.Every matter and being in this world has this awareness of being evolutionary with evolutionary zeal.

Thus every matter and being says 'Aham brahma asmi', the evolution (evolutionary zeal or the prajna) is in me.

Sloka 5.4

sa etena prajnena atmAnA asmal lokad utkramy amusmin svarge loke sarvan kaman aptva amrtah samabhavat samabhavat. ity om.

With this, by the prajna (by the brahman, the evolutionary zeal), those with Atman (atmAnA), from this world (asmal loka) transcends to being in the worlds of space (ud kramy amusmin svarge loke) where excitations (kAmAn aptva) are immortally (amRtah) manifesting (samabhavat).

Atman is beyond everything. What the beings with brahman (the evolutionary zeal) as the prajna (awareness) can do is to transcend to other worlds of space, including becoming part of immortal excitations that fill the empty space or vacuum.

Summary of the Aitareya Upanishad Sloka 5

This sloka of Aitareya Upanishad starts with a question of Who is Atma..? Where to find it..?

Who this atma worshiped by us..? Is that one that sees, that hears, that smells the fragrances, that manifests/differentiates the speech, that differentiates between tasteful and tasteless..?

Biological beings have variety of faculties. But the basic faculty of all them is prajnA. pra-jnA is the fore-most of the knowings. It is the basic awareness of being an entity that is present in biological beings.

Similarly in the Universe, there is a basic faculty amidst all the pancha-bhutas, devas etc. That is Brahman. Brahman is the prajnA of the Universe. Brahman is ati sRsti, the evolution. This evolution, brahman, is present as prajnA in every matter and being. Every matter and being is 'aware' that I am brahman (evolution) myself.

With this evolutionary zeal, all matter and beings (with Atman) can transcend to other world of space that is filled with perpetual excitations.

Thus the answer is, Atman is beyond the Universe, even beyond the immortal excitations that fill the space or vacuum.


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