"A Discussion between Father ( Uddalaka) and Son ( Svetaketu)-8"

1. Water produced food—(anna). In the language of the Upanishad, food means matter. Anything physical or material is called food. Ultimately, anything that is external to consciousness is food. An object of thought is food. That is food which comes out of the condensation of the water principle.


2. Now, these elements mentioned here,—fire, water and earth,—are what are usually called the subtle elements. They are the pure principles of creation. Later on, they get mixed in certain proportions for the manifestation of grosser elements, namely, the fire and the water and the earth that we see with our eyes.

 

3. So, what the Upanishad speaks of here as fire, water and earth are not the physical fire, water and earth that we see. They are the super-physical elements called tanmatras. These tanmatras are mixed or blended in certain proportions. For the purpose of the expression of the physical fire, three elements have to be joined in a certain proportion.

 

4. This is called trivritkarana in Sanskrit. Trivritkarana is the threefold mixing of the original principles, tanmatras, namely, fire, water and earth, in such a way that a particular element contains half of itself and one-fourth of the other two. So you have got in every element an element of every other element also.

 

5. Pure elements are never available in this world. They are all a mixture of the original three. This is called trivritkarana—triplication—the mixing of three attributes, three substances, in certain proportions. When there is water in plenty, there is food also in plenty.

 

6. This is what the Upanishad tells us in this connection. Tasmad yatra kva ca varsati, tad eva bhuyistham annam, bhavati, abdhya eva tad adhy annadyam jayate: Everything is produced out of these elements.

 

7. All the variety in this world, whatever be the number and the quality of the variety in this world, all this is an expression of these three elements, just as we are told that every colour is but a mixture in some proportion by permutation and combination of the three essential colours.


8. There are only three colours, only three substances, ultimately. Everything else is constituted in some way or the other in some proportion of these three elements alone.


9. Every form of creation is a manifestation thereof. What are these creations? Let us see. Apart from the triplicated gross elements, fire, water and earth, which we may call inorganic existence in our language, there are organic bodies also.

 

10. Chandogya Upanishad : Chapter-2, Section-2, Mantram-4.

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