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Upasana of Udgitha in the Upanisads

by Dr. Minati Mishra
26th January 2013

The highest result of all vedic rites and upasana is the attainment of the state of Prajapati. (God) But there are also different limited results such as wealth,offspring, heaven, etc. obtained through some vedic rites and upasana. These limited results can only be obtained through limited knowledge and action and this limitation is due to attachment towards the sense objects of the world which are due to primordial sins etc. which are to be overcome for the attainment of the unlimited result ie- the state of being one with Prajapati. With a view to destroy the obstructions to gain the highest result, the upasana of Udgitha (the exalted singer) is being introduced.

The offspring of Prajapati are of two types, the gods and the demons among which the gods are lesser in number and demons more. They vide with each other for supremacy. The udgitha brahmana of B.U upanisad begins with a parable, the symbolic war between the gods, the forces of truth and righteousness and the demons, the evil forces. These forces are said to be the offsprings of Prajapati, the creator, since everything is his creation. This is a perpetual warfare going on from the beginning of the creation. According to Sankara and Sureswara, this is an inner warfare that goes on within all the individuals. The senses with speech and mind are here designated either as devas (gods) and asuras (demons). Being steeped in knowledge and action prescribed by the scriptures, they become deva (literal meaning lumious) , when they become steeped in worldly knowledge and actions, which have only worldly desires at their ends, they are termed asuras (demons)
As the demonic forces in the individuals outnumber the good, they are termed as the elders. When the evil forces take hold of the individuals, it is the victory of the demons, and when they diminish, it is the victory of the gods.

The gods wanted to surpass the demons by the help of Udgitha in sacrifice. Here the word udgitha neither signifies the act of udgana (recitation in a high pitched voice) nor the middle part of saman but it signifies the karta of the udgitha act or the udgata himself.

In their search for udgitha the gods first approached Vak (speech). They said to Vak “chant for us”. “All right”, said Vak and chanted for them. Vak (speech) chanted for the gods (senses) so far it was useful for them. It is to be noted that without the help of Vak, knowledge activities cannot be performed properly. So the coordination of Vak with the other senses is inevitable. But Vak retained the primary capacity of speech for itself.

The demons came to know that through the singer, the gods would surpass them. So, they approached her and hit her with sins. It is that sin which is expressed when she speaks something improper. The selfish attachment of speech to her own benefit is the loophole through which the demons hit her with sin. This is the primordial sin for which the Vak speaks what is improper.

Likewise, the gods requested the sense of smell, eye,ear and mind gradually but the demons knowning their loopholes hit them with sin for which all the senses including mind grasp both good and evil.

Then the gods requested prana to chant for them and it chanted accordingly. The demons tried to hit her with sin but as soon as they struck it they all were destroyed. As a piece of earth striking against a stone gets destroyed, the demons were crushed into pieces, and scattered to different directions when they struck against the chief prana. This chief prana is the live spirit Jivatma which is the basis of the bodily existence.

Becoming hostile to prana, they were turned powerless. Those who are hostile to such a worshiper become powerless alike.
Thus, the gods regained their divine glory through the help of mukhya prana. Likewise the worshipper of prana as udgitha conquers death, goes beyond all the sins and attains the state of Prajapati. (God)

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