The Importance and Relevance of Anna (Grain) in the Taittiriya Upanishad

Author: Dev Prakash Gujela, M. A. Student, PG Dept. of Sanskrit, Magadh University, Bodh-Gaya, India


This article illustrates the importance and significance of Anna (Food Grain) in Taittiriya Upanishad. Importance of Veda and Vedanta is also explained. The entire world is suffering from the problem of over population and how to feed them is a key challenge to us. In present day people think that, Anna (Food grain) as only a matter of food material but Vedas and Upanishad have given significant importance to Anna and called it as Brahma. Bhriguwali of Taittiriya Upanishad clearly explained the importance of Anna in holistic manner by Bhrigu and Varuna narratives.

Keywords: Food, Vedas, Vedanta, Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhrigu Valli


            The Vedas are paramount in the Indian knowledge tradition. From here all the knowledge amounts are flowing in different periods in the form of different knowledge streams. Explaining the various knowledge of Vedas in his own style is a major topic of Upanishads. The Upanishads have given prominence to the knowledge base of the Vedas and through knowledge it teaches to know the whole world and establish communion with it. The only purpose of the Vedas is to protect the interests of human beings, and to preach the man to understand his interests well. The Vedas are embodied in the Vedas as to how humans should complete their life journey by having an objective relationship with nature. In the order of publication of the knowledge of the Vedas, the Upanishads place the last, so they are also called Vedanta:

'वेदस्यज्ञानस्यअन्तिमोभागःय: स वेदान्तः

Taittiriya Upanishad:

            Although different views regarding the number of Upanishads are there, but the Upanishads on which Acharya Shankar has written his commentary, are considered to be the main ones whose number has been considered as ten. In these ten Upanishads, Taittiriya Upanishad has more importance from the point of view of food, because in the discussion of food, its entire Bhriguvalli is dedicated only to increase the importance of food.

            Presently, the entire world is struggling with the problem of population. As the population is increasing, so too the problem of food supply is increasing. Therefore, in such a situation, we need to adopt a path that can provide food for all living beings. Although the entire world is now being oriented in this direction, but its steps can be effective only if every human is made aware of the importance of food.The ancient society believed more on inerrancy and also assimilated the traditional knowledge completely where food was considered as divine. But the present society has become a society obsessed with hyperphilistic mindset, and sees food as only a food item, whereas the sages have called grains as 'Brahm'- अन्नंब्रह्मेति व्यजानात्. Hence the problem of food in addition to population. A major reason is also to see it as food only and to disregard food.

Concept of Anna(Grain) in Bhrigu Valli of Taittiriya Upanishad:

            The importance of food is visible in the Varuna and Bhrigu narratives in the Bhrigu Valli of the Taittiriya Upanishad. The curious Bhrigu of self-realization goes to his father Varun and asks him that from which all the ghosts have arisen, from which they have survived and live and finally get absorbed in that, teach me that element. Then Varuna said to son Bhrigu, these six types of routes like food, soul, eye source, mind and speech are the gateways to Brahmopalbdhi.

Thereafter, Varun said to Bhrigu that of course all these ghosts are born, when they arise, from which they live, and in the end, they are inclined to know the particular thing in which they are absorbed. After that, Bhrigu went and meditated in his mind and meditated in the above six gates, but after getting doubt in it, Bhrigu again went to Varun and asked the same question and Varun gave the same answer. AgainAfter coming back, Bhrigu meditated and the soul went to Brahma. Similarly, on being doubly confused and repeated orders given by Varuna, Bhrigu finally came to know Anand as Brahm.

            In the said sermon, food was the first door to Brahm Gyan. This is the order of Shruti not to slander and despise food. Collect more food grains so that hospitable hospitality can be done. By doing this, Brahmajigyanasu is enriched with Annavan, Kirtivan, and subjects, animals and Brahmatej.

            Adi Shankaracharya has also said in the formulation of Brahmalakshan by the said mantra of Taittiriya Upanishad that in the origin, position, and period of life, the beings whose nature does not renounce the same is the symptom of that Brahma.You desire to know that Brahman in particular, that is, the Brahman with such characteristics, get it through Annadi.

Bhrigu, educated with his father Varuna, first of all known as Brahman. All animals are born from this grain, they are born and live from food itself and are engulfed in food while trying.

            After that, the soul is Brahma - this is to be known because all beings are born out of life, they are born and live and when they die, they become engrossed in life.

            Again, Bhrigu has known the mind as Brahma - because all the beings are born from the mind, they are generated and live through the mind and are absorbed into the mind at the time of death.

            Then he has the science of Brahm - this is known and in the end the joy is Brahm - this is known, because all the beings are born out of joy, live and get merry in the time of effort.

            After that he said that Happiness is Brahma (Anando Brahmeti vyajanati). All creatures’ birth and death is around it. Therefore, it is a vow of Brahmagna not to condemn food. Life is food and body is food because body is situated in life and life in body is unconscious.

अन्नंनपरिचक्षीत। तद् व्रतम्। आपोवै अन्नम्।

            That is, do not sacrifice food. This is the vow of Brahm Jigyasu. Water is food. In this way, the Upanishads provide inspiration for food and water conservation through their teachings, which can be controlled by controlling both the problems of food and water as a problem before us.

            Further, it is the preaching of the Taittiriya Upanishad to collect more food - this is a fast. Earth is food. With this type of sermon, fasting can be freed from the current food problem. At present, Earth Day, Nambhoomi Day etc. are also being celebrated, which is a symbolic sign of conservation of Earth. While the importance of the earth has already been understood in the Taittiriya Upanishadand the earth is the origin of food production. This is the fact statement of the Taittiriya Upanishad.

In this way, the message of hospitality has also been preached:

नकञ्चनवसतोप्रत्याचक्षीततद्वतम्। तस्माद्ययाकयाचविधयाब्रह्वन्नंप्राप्नुयात्।

            He retired in this way, knowing this world, transitioning to this joyful soul, transitioning to this pranic soul, transitioning to this humorous soul, transitioning to the scientific soul and transitioning to this joyful soul. I do a ritualistic work in the form of Kamani and Kamrupi. That is, he keeps communicating this in the order of Annamaya etc. by transitioning to the joyful soul.

The song sung by Brahmavetta is - I am food (bhogya), I am food, I am food, I have also rendered food.

            In this way, the said discussion of the Taittiriya Upanishad is very important and also exemplary for the whole world.


            In conclusion, we can say that Taittiriya Upanishad had given significant importance to Anna (Food Grain) also view of Veda and Vedanta is explained in respect to the food importance. Its well-known that the world population is increasing day by day and to feed the entire population is a bigger challenge. In modern era, the thinking of people towards Anna (food grain) is materialistic but Vedas and Upanishad have given significant importance to Anna and called it as Brahma. Apart from materialistic views Anna (Food Grain) have spiritual view also and that is clearly explained in Bhriguwali of Taittiriya Upanishad.Bhrigu Valli of Taittiriya Upanishad explained about Varuna and Bhrigu narratives. Bhrigu asked many questions to his father Varuna and each time Varuna directed him. Finally, by self-realization, he come to know about brahma and concluded that Anna is Brahma (अन्नंवैब्रह्म).

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·         तैत्तिरीयोपनिषद्, गीताप्रेस गोरखपुर

·         ईशादि नौ उपनिषद्, गीताप्रेस गोरखपुर

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This research paper first published at Praxis International Journal of Social Science and Literature, Volume 03, Issue 11, November, 2020 and has permission from the author and the journal to publish at Research Walkers.

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Volume 03, Issue 11, November, 2020