The Siksha Valli or the first chapter of the Taittiriya Upanishad has twelve verses or Anuvakas comprising different types of meditation and ethical rules which a seeker of knowledge should practice in order to purify his mind. This chapter has given a lot of importance to meditation. It has said that meditation is absolutely necessary for a seeker of knowledge to lift his mind from the nitty-gritties of domestic life towards the cosmic power or the Supreme Being. The Siksha Valli deals with the discipline of Siksha or academics which comprises the study of phonetics and pronunciation. The chapter begins with a peace invocation.
In the first Anuvaka the student prays to various deities like Lord Varuna
, Aryama, Mitra, Indra, Lord Vishnu
and Brahaspati so that all obstacles are removed from the path of his learning. He prays to the deities that he should be able to maintain a clear and pure mind so that he is able to intake the Vedic learning to the fullest. He also prays for a proper health so that he his mind doesn`t get deviated from the practice of his learning. As in this chapter the student has realised that it is necessary to stay focused in order to imbibe the Vedantic knowledge he asks for protection from Vayu whom he considers as the visible Brahman. Then the student asks the deities to protect his teacher so that the guru does not make any mistake while teaching. Finally the student chants peace thrice in this chapter so that all obstacles including the divine, external and internal are removed and his way of learning becomes smooth.
In the second chapter of the Siksha Valli the teacher has explained the student the importance of pronunciation. The teacher has said to his student in this section that unless he learns proper pronunciation from a qualified teacher and then proves himself he is not in a position to undertake Vedic recitations because a little differentiation in pronunciation can alter the meaning of the Vedic recitations. Hence it can be said that this section mainly focuses on the importance of pronunciation.
The third Anuvaka deals with the various types of Upasanas which the teacher teaches the student. With the knowledge of Upasana or meditation the student is able to concentrate on a particular object. Rather it can be said that the level of concentration increases for the student. Upasana, which the student learns from his guru, removes arrogance from his mind and also sensitizes his mind to the world that is external to him. At such a juncture all his worries become trivial to him compared to the vastness of the cosmos. The mediation expands student`s mind and he is able to realise himself as a part of the vast Universe and in the process comes close to the Brahman or the Superior Being. This method of Upasana develops a deeper understanding in the mind of the student. He begins to meditate on the external world and gradually moves towards the meditation of his inner being. Finally he realises that both the external as well as the internal world is all the same.
In the fourth chapter the student has asked blessings from Om, the symbol of Brahman. He asks blessings for strong memory, wise speech and the ability to hear abundantly. The student has said that all these teachings are necessary for him to practice his Vedic learning. He says that unless he is equipped with the ability to hear properly his spiritual learning will not be completed. Similarly, if he is not able to master the skill of sweet and agreeable speech he will not be in a position to fulfill his duty of enlightenment.
In the second part of the verse narrates the student asking for material objects like food, clothing and money. This is because he wants students from far and wide to come to him. So in that case it is his prime responsibility to provide for them. The student believes that all this will act as medium for him to realise the Brahman and in the process his path of progress will not be hindered.
The chapter relating to mystical utterances of Bhuh, Buvah, Suvah and Mahah or the fifth chapter makes the student realise the synergy that exists between the external and the internal. The teacher makes the student realise these four utterances in different meanings. This form of Upasana is simple in the sense that it explains that food is the sustainer of life and without food one is not able to exist. The teacher says that one who has understood the meanings of the four fold Upasana has moved a bit ahead in the path towards the realisation of the Brahman.
The sixth Anuvaka says that one should realise the Brahman
within ones heart. It states that with the help of the four mystic utterances one is able to decipher the true nature of the Infinite and thus is able to understand the nature of the Brahman. This section also says that one should administer proper control on his senses like speech, hearing and certainly on his mind in order to realise the Absolute Truth or the Supreme Being.
The seventh chapter teaches the student a five-fold way of meditation. In this process of mediation the student first meditates on the five-fold nature of the external world and then on the five-fold nature of the inner world and finally he realises the unification of the two. The student realises that all aspects of the universe can be classified into five element subsets. As a result he classifies the elements within his body into five parts and also the elements of the external world into five parts and in the process is able to realise the concept of the Brahman in a deeper sense.
`Om` represents all the different stages of human consciousness says the eighth Anuvaka. Mediating on Om we are able to realise all the stages of human energy and hence are in a position to understand the Brahman in a better manner. This chapter says that when a student utters the word Om he is meditating on the Brahman and in the process is also realising the Supreme Being. It can be said that by uttering the word Om an individual is able to attain Enlightenment.
The ninth chapter focuses on the importance of duties in ones life. After having taught the student a great deal about the different types of Upasanas and a lot about the nature of the Brahman, the teacher has advised his disciple that only when an individual carries out his duties in a proper and rigorous manner he is able to attain knowledge without any hindrance. One duty that has been given prime importance in the Vedas is the duty of learning as well as propagating the Vedas. The teacher has said that only by spreading the knowledge of the Vedas can one attain his true Dharma.
The tenth verse of the Siksha Valli reflects upon the thoughts of Trisanku. Trisanku believes that the nature of an ordinary man and the Infinite is the same. By reciting this mantra an ordinary man`s mind is prevented from wandering. He realises the importance of Enlightenment. This verse is also helpful in the sense that it rekindles within the seeker the passion for the transcendental state.
The convocation address which is the eleventh Anuvaka of the Siksha Valli is the most important part of this Valli. In this chapter as the student departs the teacher teaches him the ways to conduct himself in a society. He makes the student aware of all the problems which may arise in his social life and also guides him with the solutions of those problems. The teacher has advised his student to lead a righteous life by speaking the truth and by refraining himself from any wrong deed. The guru says that the student must strictly adhere to the Vedic laws till the end of his life.
The last but not the least that is the twelfth verse of the Siksha Valli has the same chanting which the very beginning of the Siksha Valli has. In this section the student uses the past tense while referring to Vayu and Brahman as his and his teacher`s protector.
Thus it can be concluded saying that from the Siksha Valli the relationship between a teacher and student can be realised and at the same time one is also able to understand the process of Vedic learning. With the help of the Siksha Valli or the first chapter of the Taittiriya Upanishad one is able to get insight about the first steps which a student should take in his quest of knowledge.