Sunday, August 2, 2009

Message of the Thunder

Swami Krishnanada expounding on the three virtues set out in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:

“On one occasion the gods, the human beings and the demons all observed self-restraint, Brahmacharya, Tapasya and austerity for the sake of gaining knowledge from the Creator. Having observed great austerity they went to Brahma, the Creator Himself, and said, "Give us instruction."

They went in Three groups. One group of the celestials, the gods, denizens of Indra-loka, paradise, who enjoy all sorts of pleasures, second the men of this earth plane, and third the demons, extremely cruel in their nature. To the gods he said, "I give you instruction. Listen! Da." He said but one word, "Da". "Do you understand what I say?" "Yes, we understand." "Very good! So, follow this instruction." Then he looked to the human beings, "Do you want instruction from me?" "Yes!" "Da," he said again. "Do you follow what I say?" "Yes, we understand." "Very good! Now go and follow this instruction." Then the demons were called and he said "Da" to the demons also, and the demons, like the others said, "Yes, we have understood what it is." "Go and follow this instruction." To all the three he told the same thing, but the meaning was taken differently by the different groups. "Da, Da, Da," he said. That is all he spoke.
The celestials, the people in paradise, are supposed to be revelling in pleasures of sense. They are fond of enjoyment. There is no old age there. There is no sweating, no toiling, no hunger, no thirst, no drowsiness and nothing untoward as in this world. It is all pleasure and pleasure, honey flowing everywhere in paradise. They are addicted to too much enjoyment. So the instruction to those people was Da-'Dāmyata'. In Sanskrit Dāmyata means, restrain yourself. Dāmyata comes from the word Dam, to restrain. Subdue your senses. Do not go too much in the direction of the enjoyment of the senses. That was 'Da' to the celestials. Kama is to be controlled by self-restraint.

Human beings are greedy. They want to grab everything. Hoarding is their basic nature. "I want a lot of money"; "I have got a lot of land and property"; "I want to keep it with myself"; "I do not want to give anything to anybody". This is how they think. So, to them 'Da' meant Datta - 'give in charity'. Do not keep with you more than what you need. Do not take what you have not given. Do not appropriate what does not belong to you. All these are implied in the statement - be charitable. Charitable not only in material giving but also in disposition, in feeling, in understanding and in feeling the feelings of others. So, to the human beings this was the instruction - Datta, give, because they are not prepared to give. They always want to keep. Greed is to be controlled by charity.

And to the demons, who are very cruel, who always insult, injure and harm other people 'Da' meant Dayadhvam - be merciful to others. The third 'Da' means Dayadhvam - be merciful. Do not be cruel and hard-hearted. Demons are hard-hearted people. They eat, swallow, destroy and demolish everything. Anger is to be controlled by mercy. So, these three letters Da, Da, Da instructed three types of individuals in three different ways. All instructions were conveyed by a single word only; a single letter, but the meaning was conveyed properly to the individual groups concerned.

These three groups are to be understood as three characters of individuals in this world, those who are blessed with intellect and good life, those who have material plenty and those who have power to dominate.
T.S. Eliot composed a poem “The Waste Land” to bring out this teachings of the Upanishad.

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms
Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
Only at nightfall, ethereal rumours
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
Damyata: The boat responded
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands


Love to you all


  1. Dear TIB,

    I would say Demons, Devas and Manushas are present inside all humans.

    And hence Datta, Damyata and Dayadhvam are needed in us. We need to be kind. We need to restrain ourselves. We need to support others by giving out.

    These three are basic principle of living eco-system and evolution.
    And that is not altruism. That is our responsibility. There is no independent self-surviving world out there.

    I recorded some similar thoughts when I attended a programme for special children here.


  2. Dear TBT,

    Thanks for sharing your insight and the link to your thoughts.

  3. As i went through the blog I thought the three Da -s are needed for everyone of us,as we do not conform to anyone category all the time. I was surprised to see the comment from TBT falling in the same line of reflection..I also understand the fourth dimension in each of us which leads us towards the'awful daringness to surrender'

  4. Dear Christy,

    Thanks for your comment. The three dimensions of 'restrain, giving & compassion' are in the raltionship with the entire eco-system as TBT has observed. The fourth dimension as you have mentioned is the tool for activating the transcendence of our consciousness to a higher plane.