Vajrasuchi Upanishad





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Vajrasuchi Upanishad

The Vajrasuchi or the Vajrasuchika Upanishad is attached to the Samaved and is classified as one of the 22 Samanya Upanishads. It expounds certain tenets to obtain the status of a Brahmana and is often quoted to debunk mythical conceptions like the modern day caste system.


The word Vajrasūci has been derived from two major words - vajra, which means diamond and sūci/ sūcika, which means needle. Thus, Vajrasūcika essentially means - " a needle that is as hard as a diamond." It is regarded as the weapon to destroy ignorance. It condemns the ignorant and praises the man of divine vision.[ref] This Upanishad is also known for attacking the modern concept of the 'caste system' and asserting that any human being, regardless of his/her birth, can achieve the highest spiritual state of existence provided that the person is spiritually inclined and qualified to recieve it. 

Who is the Brāhmana?

The Upanishad begins with enlisting the four varnās - the Brāhmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaishya and the Shūdra; and further states that even the Smritis declare in accordance with the words of the Vedas that the Brāhmana alone is the most important of them. 

But what remains to be examined are some basic questions that the Upanishad raises and seeks to answer each one by one.  These questions are - What is meant by Brāhmana? Is he the Jīva? Is he the Deha (body)? Is he the Jātih? Is he the Jñāna (knowledge)? Is he the Karma? Or is he the doer of Dharma? 

Is he the Jīva?

The jīva cannot be the Brāhmana because the jīva remains the same in the many past and future bodies as it only migrates from one body to other. The ātma becomes conditioned under the influence of avidya or karma and becomes jīva. [ref]

Since the jīva is the same in all of the many bodies obtained through the force of karma, therefore jīva is not the Brāhmana. 

Is he the Deha?

The deha or body does not make anyone a Brāhmana either. The body is made up of the five elements which are common for all people down to candālas,etc. at the same time, old age and death, dharma and adharma are found to be common to them all. The verse further elaborates that there's also no absolute distinction that the Brāhmanas are white - coloured, the Kshatriyas red, the Vaishyas yellow or the Shūdras dark. How can then the Brāhmana be identified by the virtue of body? The Dharma Shastras considers murder of a Brāhmana the greatest sin. Therefore, it is argued that if it is the body that is the Brāhmana, then cremation of that body upon the death of the person will be akin to the sin of killing a Brāhmana.

Is he by Jātih?

Then is a person by birth or by jātih the Brāhmana? But there are many great sages who have sprung from other castes and orders of creation - Vyāsa of a fisherman's daughter; Gautama , of the posteriors of a hare; Vasishtha of Ūrvasī and Agastya of a water pot. Many of these rishis outside the caste system have stood first among the teachers of divine wisdom. Therefore, birth does not make a Brāhmana. 

Is he by Jñāna?

Jñāna or knowledge does not make a Brāhmana either because there have been many Kshatriyas and others well versed in the cognition of divine truth. 

Is he by Karma?

The next verse specifies that performance of karma in this life too does not form the basis to be a Brāhmana. That is because one's net karma is the sum of all the past, present and future. Thus, assigning a person a varna merely on the basis of one's present performance and belittling the importance of one's past and future karmas would be a great injustice. [ref]

Is he by Dharma?

One is also not a Brāhmana by the virtue of one's dharma. This is so because even Kshatriyas donate gold and therefore are a doer of virtuous actions but they are not the Brāhmana. 

The Brāhmana

The Upanishad, after having pondered upon various prospects of who may or may not be a Brāhmana, finally says that any person who has directly realised his Ātman, has attained self - realisation and thus is devoid of class and actions, is free from the faults of the six staines [viz.hunger, thirst, grief, confusion, old age and death] and the six changes, that is of the nature of the truth, knowledge, bliss, and eternity, that is without any change in itself. The Ātman is the bases of endless determinations, it pervades everything within and without like space. It is of the nature of undivided bliss, that cannot be reasoned about and is known only by direct cognition. He, who by the reason of having obtained his wishes, is devoid of the thirsts after worldly objects and passions, is free from emotion, malice, desire,etc., whose mind is untouched by pride, egoism,etc., who possesses all these qualities and means - He only is the Brāhmana. 

Thus, the Vajrasūci Upanishad very beautifully carved out the resemblance, the persona of the Brāhmana. It makes it clear that not until one has realized the Supreme Being can one be called a Brāhmana. Therefore, one should meditate on one's Ātman as being - consciousness and bliss and the non - dual Brāhmana.           

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