November 28, 2023

Three-fold Meaning of Hiranmayena Patrena Satyasya Apihitam Mukham

A gold vase closes the mouth of Truth :-

The Philosophy of the Hindu religion is concentrated in the Upanishads. From my study of the most important ten Upanishads, I am convinced that the sages knew the science and dialectics very well and had a perfectly scientific and rational view. The sages based on their philosophy on the scientific facts. The Hindu Philosophy is eternal. It maintained its hold on billions of souls for thousands of years, only because it is the most scientific. 

Though the philosophy is scientific and rational, its base and the real meanings are forgotten in the stream of Time. So even the experts cannot explain the Mantras from the Upanishads. The meanings given by the scholars are not at all rational and are not coherentwith the theme of the Upanishad. 

The best example of this fact is the 15th Mantra from the Ishavasya Upanishad. It is the most difficult to explain and is not yet properly interpreted. Many scholars, Sanskrit Pandits and even the Spiritualists give only translation of words in the verse; but avoid true explanation of their meaning. The real sense is not yet unrevealed, in spite of the attempts from Adi Shankaracharya to Vinoba Bhave. On this background I tried to solve the real meaning of this Mantra in my meditation, and I think my attempt is successful. I revealed three apparently different but coherent explanations. These are Physical, Spiritual and Scientific. 

Let us see the Mantra and its meanings in three ways. 

“The vessel of Gold has closed the mouth of the Truth. Please remove that 0h Pooshan! to see the Dharma of ‘Satya’. This is the literary translation but it does not revealthe real sense. Let us decipher it now. 

Hiranmaya means full of Hiran. Hiran has three meanings – Gold, Sperm and Light. Satya also has three meanings – Truth, Atman and Brahman. The first meaning clarifies physical fact, second reveals spiritual fact, while the third unmasks scientific fact.

Ordinary Physical Meaning :

Hiran means Gold. Golden vase or a vessel full of gold stands for wealth, riches or property. It is a daily fact that the wealth shuts the mouth of the Truth. A man is a rascal, full of vices, but if he is wealthy, nobody will say that he is a rascal. The mouth is shut for speaking the truth. If an officer takes undue advantage of his powers and amasses wealth, nobody dares to speak the truth against him. The mouth of the truth is closed by his wealth. If some guy tries to speak truth against the rich person, his month will be shut by bribe. In the court of judicature, too, such culprits get acquitted due to the effect of’ their wealth. By swallowing thousands of rupees the police shut their month, witnesses shut their mouths and the pleader does not open his month. Naturally, the mouth of the truth never opens. This happens in villages, towns, cities, nations and even at the international level. Thus the Upanishad has told the eternal truth. 

This happens even in the spiritual field. A Godman purchases fame and becomes richer and richer. He behaves against the Adhyatma Shastra (Spiritual science), betrays the people and collects wealth. Due to this golden jar of wealth nobody dares to speak against him and his vices. 

There are certain false notions and ideas in the society; but nobody dares to speak against them. If any truth-abiding man tries to speak he will be hushed up. If he writes about such truth, no editor will publish his thoughts, because the editors are afraid of the public. They think that if they publish the truth people will get angry and will not purchase their issues and then they will not get enough money. Thus it is the money, which suppresses the truth. Therefore, the sage says that gold vase closes the mouth of the truth. 

Pooshan means the feeder. If Pooshan is blessing me, I will not care for any body’s wealth, because nobody can play viciously with feeding of me and my family. So I will have courage to speak the truth. If Pooshan is favoring me, I will not worry about my feeding and earning and then on behalf of the truth I can dare even the King or Viceroy or President or Prime Minister. Thus, considering the difficulties of every day life, the sage requests Pooshan to remove the fear of wealth to unveil the truth. 

Spiritual or Adhyatmic Meaning:

Adhyatma means pertaining to the Self (Adhi + Atman) and this meaning is about the self. Hiran means ‘Reta’ (i.e. Ovum and Sperm). Hiranmaya ‘patra’ means a vase made up of the ovum and sperm. Which is this utensil made up from the Reta? It is the living body. An animal begins its life when a sperm combines with an ovum and forms a Zygote. This zygote goes on multiplying and billions of cells are formed. To be precise 2 cells or 33355235953756 cells compose the human body. All these cells have come up from the Reta,from that one single sperm combined with the ovum. As the body has developed from the Reta, it is called as a pot made up of Reta. 

This pot of Reta i.e. the body composed of cells, conceals in it the real Self, the Atman. Atman is Satya (reality) because it is eternal. The Atman is not visible. Hence the sage tells that the body made from the sperm covers down the Satya. If one wants to see this Satya or Atman, he should remove the cover, whither the living body. But how can it be done? If one takes a sword and cuts the body, the body dies and then Atman is never found. Then what to do ? 

The sage tells that only the Poosha can do this miracle. Why Poosha ? Who is Poosha? Poosha is the feeder. From the point of view of the living animal, Poosha is the energy,which takes in the food, digests it, assimilates it and then builds up the body, from there sources of the food. As it builds our body it is called as Pooshan. But the same Pooshan disintegrates the body of the food. Thus Poosha has got the capacity of releasing that energy or Atman from a body. Only Poosha can dissect the pot of Reta carefully and release Atman,which may, then, be visualized. Hence the sage requests the Pooshan to remove the pot of Reta. 

Scientific Meaning :

‘Hiran’ means light. The light is scattered all over the visible world, so it is a pot oflight. This vase of light has masked the Satya or Reality, says the sage. Prima facie, this statement appears to be wrong, because we suppose that what we see in the daylight is theTruth. But this supposition itself is totally wrong. A man lecturing on Prohibition in the daylight is found drunken at night. A lady apparently faithful, devoted and loyal to her husband in daylight is found with another lover at night. A daredevil of the day is seen afraid of a cockroach or a mouse at night. An idol of virtues of the day turns to be an idol of vices at night. Then, which is the truth? Of course, a bare truth is seen at night when light is absent; while in the daylight we see only a false mask. So our assumption is totally false that what we see in the daylight is true. The real truth is seen when the light passes away. 

The modern science also has supported the sage’s statement. A beautiful body seen in the day with sunlight is seen like a ghost with the help of X-rays in darkness. Which is true? That seen in the X-rays or that seen in the Sunrays is true? The beauty seen in the Sun-rays is apparent, while the Tubercular lesion seen in the X-rays is the truth. So what we see in the light is not always true. Therefore, the sage says that light covers the truth. A man seen in the light is not true. An animal or a plant as seen in light is not true. Neither the Nature nor the world as seen in the light is true. Any article seen in light is not true. Even the sky as is seenin light is not true. Bluish sky of the day is an illusion, not the truth. On the contrary, the sky seen at night is the reality. The millions and billions of stars, seen when the light disappears,is the reality, it is the Brahman. The light masks this reality, this Brahman. 

As the light covers the Super-space and the stars contained in it, naturally the light must also cover up the mini-space and the micro-space. We can see the micro-world only by taking away light. Atoms and molecules are not seen in the daylight; but all those are reality. To visualize this reality light is of no use. On the contrary light is hindrance to see it. 

To remove this hindrance of light the sage requests the Sun, the source of light, to take away the light. Pooshan means the Sun. Pooshan literarily means the feeder. The Sun is in reality a Feeder.The Sun emits energy and helps plants grow. So he is Pooshan. Plants store Sun’s energy in them. Vegetarian animals feed on the plants and take this energy. Carnivorous animals feed on the vegetarian animals and take that energy. So the ultimate source of the energy for life is the Sun. Hence the Sun is named as Pooshan and is requested to take off the light so as to help visualize the Reality. The modern scientists take opportunity of solar eclipse to study the reality of the Sun, because during solar eclipse light is withheld. Thus the modern scientists agree with the sage that to see the reality barrier of light should be taken away. 

Thus it is clearly seen that the sage has concentrated three meanings in one verse; that is why it is called as ‘Mantra’. All the three meanings are absolutely correct and cohesive. The sage has told the ultimate truth, so the modern science agrees with it. 

The clause ‘Satyadharmaya Drushtaye’ has two versions. First version is ‘to see the Satyadharma’ i.e. the mode or code of conduct of the Reality or Brahman. In other words the sage wanted to see how that Reality functions, on what laws and rules the Reality works. He wanted to study the nature, disposition, and character of the Supreme Spirit.

Second version is ‘for Satyadharma to see the Reality’. Satyadharma means the one whose code of conduct is Truth, whose devotion is the Reality. So Satyadharma is after reality, his aim is reality. He wants to see the Truth, Atman and Brahman. Any person, who is Satyadharma in this sense can see the reality, only if Poosha is pleased. Thus both these versions fit nicely with the three meanings I have deciphered. 

I think these meanings are acceptable without any controversy, because they are quite logical and are correct grammatically as well as linguistically. Moreover, they show to what extraordinary depth the sage has gone thinking rationally and scientifically. The sage had revealed the ultimate truth so he is consonant with the truth revealed by the modern science.  

:- Dr. P. V. Vartak

2 thoughts on “Three-fold Meaning of Hiranmayena Patrena Satyasya Apihitam Mukham

  1. The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer,for the law of the Truth, for sight.

    – Ishopanishad. 15.

    In the inner sense of the Veda Surya, the Sun-God, represents the divine Illumination of the Kavi which exceeds mind and forms the pure self-luminous Truth of things. His principal power is self-revelatory knowledge, termed in the Veda “Sight”. His realm is described as the Truth, the Law, the Vast. He is the Fosterer or Increaser, for he enlarges and opens man’s dark and limited being into a luminous and infinite consciousness. He is the sole Seer, Seer of Oneness and Knower of the Self, and leads him to the highest Sight. He is Yama, Controller or Ordainer, for he governs man’s action and manifested being by the direct Law of the Truth, satyadharma, and therefore by the right principle of our nature, yathatathyatah. . A luminous power proceeding from the Father of all existence, he reveals in himself the divine Purusha of whom all beings are the manifestations. His rays are the thoughts that proceed luminously from the Truth, the Vast, but become deflected and distorted, broken up and disordered in the reflecting and dividing principle, Mind. They form there the golden lid which covers the face of the Truth. The Seer prays to Surya to cast them into right order and relation and then draw them together into the unity of revealed truth. The result of this inner process is the perception of the oneness of all beings in the divine Soul of the Universe.

    – Sri Aurobindo.

  2. “There is a truth (ŗtam) covered by a inferior truth (ŗtena).”
    -Rig Veda.

    “The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid. ”
    -Isha Upanishad.

    “There is a Truth covered by an inferior Truth”, runs the Vedic passage…

    The golden lid is meant to be the same as the inferior Truth covering the superior truth (the ultimate source of all that is).


    “At the source of this Intuition we discover a superconscient cosmic Mind in direct contact with the supramental Truth-Consciousness, an original intensity determinant of all movements below it and all mental energies,-not Mind as we know it, but an Overmind that covers as with the wide wings of some creative Oversoul this whole lower hemisphere of Knowledge-Ignorance, links it with that greater Truth-Consciousness while yet at the same time with its brilliant golden Lid it veils the face of the greater Truth from our sight, intervening with its flood of infinite possibilities as at once an obstacle and a passage in our seeking of the spiritual law of our existence, its highest aim, its secret Reality. This then is the occult link we were looking for; this is the Power that at once connects and divides the supreme Knowledge and the cosmic Ignorance”

    “A veil behind the heart, a lid over the mind divide us from the Divine. Love and devotion rend the veil, in the quietude of the mind the lid thins and vanishes.”

    -Sri Aurobindo.

    [Sri Aurobindo, Life Divine, Supermind, Mind And The Overmind Maya]

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