The bliss of one well-versed in the Vedas surpasses that of the higher beings

The following is an excerpt from S. Radhakrishan’s translation of the Taittiriya Upanishad 2.8.1. Here the rishis describe how knowledge of the Vedas and austerity brings bliss beyond that of beings in the higher worlds. In the course of the verse, we are introduced to multiple levels of beings in worlds beyond ours. Modern brain science confirms today that the world we perceive at any given moment is only a fraction of what our awareness is capable of experiencing as consciousness. Satguru Subramuniyaswami, founder ofHINDUISM TODAY, viewed religion as a process of communication between beings in this earth plane and higher subtle realms.

This is the inquiry concerning bliss.

Let there be a youth, a good youth, well read, prompt in action, steady in mind and strong in body. Let this whole earth be full of wealth for him. That is one human bliss.

What is a hundred times the human bliss, that is one bliss of human fairies (manu gandharvavam)—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of the human fairies, that is one bliss of divine fairies (deva gandharvavam)—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of the divine fairies, that is one bliss of the Fathers (pitrinam) in their long enduring world—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of the Fathers in their long enduring world, that is one bliss of the Gods (ajanajanam devam) who are born so by birth—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of the Gods who are born so by birth, that is one bliss of the Gods (karma devam) by work, who go to the Gods by work—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of the Gods, that is one bliss of Indra—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of Indra, that is one bliss of Brhaspati—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of Brhaspati, that is one bliss of Prajapati—also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and who is not smitten with desire.

What is a hundred times the bliss of Prajapati, that is one bliss of Brahma—also of a man who is well versed in the Veda and who is not smitten with desire.

Devotees on the earth plane sing sacred hymns while above them five astral beings dance (people who died and are yet to reincarnate), as well as other gandhavara, and above them two mahadevas in higher realm bless.

He who is here in the person and he who is yonder in the Sun—he is one. He who knows this, on departing from this world reaches to the self which consists of food, reaches the self which consists of life, reaches the self which consists of mind, reaches the self which consists of understanding, reaches the self which consists of bliss.

Translator’s commentary: Those who attain to the status of Gods by their own work are called Karma-Devas. The bliss of delight which knowledge of Brahman occasions baffles all description. It is something completely incomprehensible. Brahman thus is blissful being and so is of the highest value. In reaching the richness of being of Brahman we reach our highest fulfilment. In describing the various degrees of happiness, the author of the Upanishad gives us an idea of the classes of human and divine beings: men, fathers, fairies, Gods by merit and Gods by birth, Prajapati and Brahma or Hirangarbha.

SARVAPELLI RADAKRISHNAN, (1888-1975) was an Indian philosopher and statesman, India’s first Vice President (1952–1962) and second President (1962–1967). He held doctorates in science, philosophy and theology.