25. Vaisvânara (is the highest Self), on account of the distinctions qualifying the common term.
The Khandogas read in their text, 'You know at present that Vaisvânara Self, tell us that,' &c., and further on, 'But he who meditates on the Vaisvânara Self as a span long,' &c. (Kh. Up. V, 11, 6; 18, 1). The doubt here arises whether that Vaisvânara Self can be made out to be the highest Self or not. The Pûrvapakshin maintains the latter alternative. For, he says, the word Vaisvânara is used in the sacred texts in four different senses. It denotes in the first place the intestinal fire, so in Bri. Up, V, 9, 'That is the Vaisvânara fire by which the food that is eaten is cooked, i.e. digested. Its noise is that which one hears when one covers one's ears. When man is on the point of departing this life he does not hear that noise.'--It next denotes the third of the elements, so in Ri. Samh. X, 88, 12, 'For the whole world the gods
have made the Agni Vaisvânara a sign of the days.'--It also denotes a divinity, so Ri. Samh. I, 98, 1, 'May we be in the favour of Vaisvânara, for he is the king of the kings,' &c. And finally it denotes the highest Self, as in the passage, 'He offered it in the Self, in the heart, in Agni Vaisvânara'; and in Pra. Up. I, 7, 'Thus he rises as Vaisvânara, assuming all forms, as breath of life, as fire.'--And the characteristic marks mentioned in the introductory clauses of the Khandogya-text under discussion admit of interpretations agreeing with every one of these meanings of the word Vaisvânara.
Against this primâ facie view the Sûtra declares itself. The term 'Vaisvânara' in the Khândogya-text denotes the highest Self, because the 'common' term is there qualified by attributes specially belonging to the highest Self. For the passage tells us how Aupamanyava and four other great Rhshis, having met and discussed the question as to what was their Self and Brahman, come to the conclusion to go to Uddâlaka because he is reputed to know the Vaisvânara Self. Uddâlaka, recognising their anxiety to know the Vaisvânara Self, and deeming himself not to be fully informed on this point, refers them to Asvapati Kaikeya as thoroughly knowing the Vaisvânara Self; and they thereupon, together with Uddâlaka, approach Asvapati. The king duly honours them with presents, and as they appear unwilling to receive them, explains that they may suitably do so, he himself being engaged in the performance of a religious vow; and at the same time instructs them that even men knowing Brahman must avoid what is forbidden and do what is prescribed. When thereupon he adds that he will give them as much wealth as to the priests engaged in his sacrifice, they, desirous of Release and of knowing the Vaisânara Self, request him to explain that Self to them. Now it clearly appears that as the Rishis are said to be desirous of knowing--that Brahman which is the Self of the individual souls ('what is our Self, what is Brahman'), and therefore search for some one to instruct them on that point, the Vaisvânara Self--to a person acquainted with which they address themselves--
can be the highest Self only. In the earlier clauses the terms used are 'Self and 'Brahman,' in the later 'Self' and 'Vaisvânara'; from this it appears also that the term 'Vaisvânara,' which takes the place of 'Brahman,' denotes none other but the highest Self. The results, moreover, of the knowledge of the Vaisvânara Self, which are stated in subsequent passages, show that the Vaisvânara Self is the highest Brahman. 'He eats food in all worlds, in all beings, in all Selfs'; 'as the fibres of the Ishîkâ reed when thrown into the fire are burnt, thus all his sins are burned' (V, 18, I; 24, 3).
The next Sûtra supplies a further reason for the same conclusion.