Indra as representative of Gods and Birochan as a delegate of demons are seeking to know Atman and complete knowledge from Prajapati through question answer method. Prajapati explains: the person that you see in eye is the Atman, the nectar, the symbol of fearlessness, and Brahma the ultimate cosmic consciousness. After this, they query how to know Atman from among faces we see in water and reflection in mirror. Prajapati replies to this: like in the eye the person – the Atman- exists everywhere in water and mirror.
When Indra and Birochan look into the pond full of water, Prajapati asks them what they could not learn about Atman in the reflection that they witnessed in water. Prajapati asked them to tell what they saw in water. In reply they said they had a view of their body from nail to every tiny piece of hair. Both Indra and Birochan understand from this that the body itself is the Atman because they saw it in total reflected in water. After this Prajapati asks them to wear fashionable dress and do make up in face and have hair-do in an attempt to decorate the body. Then he requests them to look into the pond once again. They saw their bodies decorated and reflected in water. They learnt that their body itself was the embodiment of Atman. Then they left knowing they got full knowledge about Atman.
Birochan started boasting that he knew Atman and that the body is its seat. From then on he began preaching that the body is the end of everything and all should work for satisfying the needs of body, decorating it and fulfilling all its desires. His knowledge was incomplete but he thought it was complete.
Indra on the other hand felt he did not get the full knowledge through the reflection of body in water. He questioned how could body be the Atman? If a body with ugly appearance and with no sight looks into water, the same would be reflected. Then how can the reflection in water be termed immortal and not subject to change. He had a number of doubts over the shadowish explanation of Atman. He therefore went back to Prajapati and expressed his suspicion. Prajapati asks him to observe the routine and discipline of Brahmacharya for 32 years. After this you may come to me for anwer to your queries.
Indra follows the order and approaches Prajapati for instruction on knowing Atman. This time Prajapati explains what is seen in dream is Atman. The same does not satisfy him. So he further presents his doubt before Prajapati who asks him to further observe Bramhacharya for 32 years. Indra does the same. Then Prajapati introduces him the Atman through the state of Sushupti – the dormant stage. Following this Prajapati asks Indra to observe Brahmacharya for five years. It is only after this that Indra understands the reality of Brahma and Atman.
By Shirish Ballav Pradhan