Prashnopanishad - I
The Prashnopanishad, which is part of the Atharvaveda, is considered to be an extension of Mundakopanishad. It consists of a great narrative about questions about Brahma Gyan raised by six enthusiastic knowledge-seekers and answers to their queries by great scholar Peeppalad.
Six knowledge seekers – Sukesha, Satyakam, Sauryayini Gargya, Kaushalya, Bhargava and Kabandhi – visit great scholar Maharshi Peeppalad and humbly request him to offer them Brahma Gyan. Great Guru Peeppalad, instead of offering them knowledge as requested, asks them to first live for one year a completely disciplined life of bachelor – Brahmacharya – , develop faith in knowledge and meditation and then come to him for answers to questions. The scholar expected to offer knowledge only to those who are mentally, physically and spiritually fit to receive it. It is an indicator of a value prevailing among those who shared knowledge in Vedic times.
A warm-up-preparedness for receiving knowledge is a must for acquiring Vedic knowledge and wisdom. A sort of intellectual and physical acclimatization for receiving great knowledge is what was emphasized in ancient times. Disciples’ capacity to receive knowledge, willingness to comprehend it sincerely and motivation for internationalizing the same played great role in teaching learning in the Vedic times. That is why as soon as Guru Peeppalad proposed that the sages observe yearlong bachelor-life, they were ready for it.
All the six sages go back from there and devote themselves to the task of preparing for receiving knowledge as per the directives given by Peeppalad. They lived a life of bachelor, practiced meditation, developed respect for the Vedas and observed strict disciplines in their daily routine. Then they return to the great Guru and raise questions before him.
Kabandhi first presents his inquiry: Oh Teacher! Who creates the people? Peeppalad answers it thus: first Prajapati, the creator of living beings and vegetation, develops a desire to create people and vegetation, dedicates himself to devotion for this. Bhargabha presents second enquiry: Who are the Gods who adopt the people, who illuminates whom, and who is the best God? To this the great Guru replies: what we understand as God is the manifestation reflected in the universe or sky, wind, energy, earth, all sense organs and also the mind. Pran occupies focal point in all these for it makes all the above active and conscious all the time.
The third question comes from Kaushalya Ashwalayan. How is the Pran created? What is the procedure through which it enters the body or sense organs? How does it get functional? The reply is: Pran comes from Atma. Then it commences its functions making all sense organs conscious and active.
Other sages also go on asking questions and Guru Peeppalad continues replying to them in the Prashnopanishad. (To be continued…..)
By Shirish B. Pradhan