Front Page Titles (by Subject) MUṆḌAKA UPANISHAD - The Thirteen Principal Upanishads
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MUṆḌAKA UPANISHAD - Misc (Upanishads), The Thirteen Principal Upanishads 
The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, translated from the Sanskrit with an outline of the philosophy of the Upanishads and an annotated bibliography, by Robert Ernest Hume (Oxford University Press, 1921).
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The line of tradition of this knowledge from Brahmā himself
1. Brahmā arose as the first of the gods—
The maker of all, the protector of the world.
He told the knowledge of Brahma (brahma-vidyā), the foundation of all knowledge,
To Atharva[n], his eldest son.
2. What Brahmā taught to Atharvan,
Even that knowledge of Brahma, Atharvan told in ancient time to Aṅgir.
He told it to Bhāradvāja Satyavāha;
Bhāradvāja, to Aṅgiras—both the higher and the lower [knowledge].
Śaunaka’s quest for the clue to an understanding of the world
3. Śaunaka, verily, indeed, a great householder, approached Aṅgiras according to rule, and asked: ‘Through understanding of what, pray, does all this world become understood, Sir?’1
Two kinds of knowledge: the traditions of religion, and the knowledge of the eternal
4. To him then he said: ‘There are two knowledges to be known—as indeed the knowers of Brahma are wont to say2 : a higher (para) and also a lower (apara).
Now, the higher is that whereby that Imperishable (akṣara) is apprehended.
The imperishable source of all things
6. That which is invisible, ungraspable, without family, without caste (a-varṇa)—
Without sight or hearing is It, without hand or foot,
Eternal, all-pervading, omnipresent, exceedingly subtile;
That is the Imperishable, which the wise perceive as the source of beings.
7. As a spider emits and draws in [its thread],
As herbs arise on the earth,
As the hairs of the head and body from a living person,
All the ceremonies of religion scrupulously to be practised
1. This is the truth:—
The works which the sages (kavi) saw in the sacred sayings (mantra, i.e. Vedic hymns)
Are manifoldly spread forth in the triad [of the Vedas].
Follow them (ācaratha) constantly, ye lovers of truth (satyakāma)!
This is your path to the world of good deeds.
Then, between the two portions of melted butter, his oblations.
One should throw—an offering made with faith (śraddhā).
3. If one’s Agnihotra sacrifice is not followed by the sacrifice of the new moon and of the full moon, by the four-months sacrifice, by the harvest sacrifice, if it is unattended by guests, or not offered at all, or without the ceremony to all the gods, or not according to rule, it destroys his seven worlds.
4. The Black (kālī), and the Terrible, and the Swift-as-Thought,
The Very-red, and the Very-smoky-colored,
The Scintillating, and the All-formed,1 divine one,
Are the seven so-called flickering tongues [of flame].2
Rewards of ceremonial observances
5. If one performs sacrifices when these are shining,
Offering the oblations at the proper time, too,
These (flames) as rays of the sun lead him
To where is resident the one lord (pati) of the gods.
6. Saying to him “Come! Come!” the splendid offerings
Carry the sacrificer with the rays of the sun,
Addressing pleasant speech, praising, and saying:
“This is your meritorious (puṇya) Brahma-world, gained by good works.”
Sacrificial forms ineffective against rebirth
7. Unsafe boats, however, are these sacrificial forms,
The eighteen,3 in which is expressed the lower work.
The fools who approve that as the better,
Go again to old age and death.
The consequences of ignorance
8. Those abiding in the midst of ignorance,
Self-wise, thinking themselves learned,
Hard smitten, go around deluded,
Like blind men led by one who is himself blind.4
9. Manifoldly living in ignorance,
They think to themselves, childishly: “We have accomplished our aim!”
Since doers of deeds (karmin) do not understand, because of passion (rāga),
Therefore, when their worlds are exhausted, they sink down wretched.
10. Thinking sacrifice and merit is the chiefest thing,
Naught better do they know—deluded!
Having had enjoyment on the top of the heaven won by good works,
They re-enter this world, or a lower.
But unstriving, retiring knowers, without sacrifice, reach the eternal Person
11. They who practise austerity (tapas) and faith (śraddhā) in the forest,
The peaceful (śānta) knowers who live on alms,
Depart passionless (vi-rāga) through the door of the sun,
To where is that immortal Person (Purusha), e’en the imperishable Spirit (Ātman).
This knowledge of Brahma to be sought properly from a qualified teacher
12. Having scrutinized the worlds that are built up by work, a Brahman
Should arrive at indifference. The [world] that was not made1 is not [won] by what is done.
For the sake of this knowledge let him go, fuel in hand,2
To a spiritual teacher (guru) who is learned in the scriptures and established on Brahma.
13. Such a knowing [teacher], unto one who has approached properly,
Whose thought is tranquilized, who has reached peace,
Teaches in its very truth that knowledge of Brahma
Whereby one knows the Imperishable, the Person, the True.
The Imperishable, the source and the goal of all beings
1. This is the truth:—
As, from a well-blazing fire, sparks
By the thousand issue forth of like form,
So from the Imperishable, my friend, beings manifold
Are produced, and thither also go.
The supreme Person
The source of the human person and of the cosmic elements
The macrocosmic Person
4. Fire is His head; His eyes, the moon and sun;
The regions of space, His ears; His voice, the revealed Vedas;
Wind, His breath (prāṇa); His heart, the whole world. Out of His feet,
The earth. Truly, He is the Inner Soul (Ātman) of all.
The source of the world and of the individual
5. From Him [proceeds] fire, whose fuel is the sun;
From the moon (Soma), rain; herbs, on the earth.
The male pours seed in the female.
Many creatures are produced from the Person (Purusha).
The source of all religious rites
6. From Him the Rig Verses, the Sāman Chant, the sacrificial formulas (yajus), the initiation rite (dīksā).
And all the sacrifices, ceremonies, and sacrificial gifts (daksiṇā),
The year too, and the sacrificer, the worlds
Where the moon (Soma) shines brightly, and where the sun.1
The source of all forms of existence
7. From Him, too, gods are manifoldly produced,
The celestials (Sādhyas), men, cattle, birds,
The in-breath and the out-breath (prāṇāpānau), rice and barley, austerity (tapas),
Faith (śraddhā), truth, chastity, and the law (vidhi).
The source of the activity of the senses
8. From Him come forth the seven life-breaths (prāṇa),2
The seven flames, their fuel, the seven oblations,
These seven worlds, wherein do move
The life-breaths that dwell in the secret place [of the heart], placed seven and seven.
The source of the world—the Inner Soul of things
9. From Him, the seas and the mountains all.
From Him roll rivers of every kind.
And from Him all herbs, the essence, too,
Whereby that Inner Soul (antarātman) dwells in beings.
The pantheistic Person found in the heart
10. The Person (Purusha) himself is everything here:
Work (karman) and austerity (tapas) and Brahma, beyond death.
He who knows That, set in the secret place [of the heart]—
He here on earth, my friend, rends asunder the knot of ignorance.
The pantheistic Brahma
1. Manifest, [yet] hidden; called ‘Moving-in-secret’;
2. That which is flaming, which is subtler than the subtle,
On which the worlds are set, and their inhabitants—
A target to be penetrated by meditation on ‘Om’
3. Taking as a bow the great weapon of the Upanishad,
One should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation.
Stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That,
Penetrate1 that Imperishable as the mark, my friend.
The immortal Soul, the one warp of the world and of the individual
5. He on whom the sky, the earth, and the atmosphere
Are woven, and the mind, together with all the life-breaths (prāṇa),
Him alone know as the one Soul (Ātman). Other
Words dismiss. He is the bridge to immortality.
The great Soul to be found in the heart
Deliverance gained through vision of Him
The self-luminous light of the world
10. The sun shines not there, nor the moon and stars;
These lightnings shine not, much less this [earthly] fire!
After Him, as He shines, doth everything shine.
This whole world is illumined with His light.3
The omnipresent Brahma
11. Brahma, indeed, is this immortal. Brahma before,
Brahma behind, to right and to left.
Stretched forth below and above,
Brahma, indeed, is this whole world, this widest extent.
Recognition of the Great Companion, the supreme salvation
1. Two birds, fast bound companions,
Clasp close the self-same tree.
Of these two, the one eats sweet fruit;
The other looks on without eating.1
2. On the self-same tree a person, sunken,
Grieves for his impotence, deluded;
When he sees the other, the Lord (īś), contented,
And his greatness, he becomes freed from sorrow.2
3. When a seer sees the brilliant
Maker, Lord, Person, the Brahma-source,
Then, being a knower, shaking off good and evil,3
Stainless, he attains supreme identity (sāmya) [with Him].
Delight in the Soul, the life of all things
4. Truly, it is Life (Prāṇa) that shines forth in all things!
Understanding this, one becomes a knower. There is no superior speaker.
Having delight in the Soul (Ātman), having pleasure in the Soul,4 doing the rites,
Such a one is the best of Brahma-knowers.
The pure Soul obtainable by true methods
5. This Soul (Ātman) is obtainable by truth, by austerity (tapas),
By proper knowledge (jñāna), by the student’s life of chastity (brahmacarya) constantly [practised].
Within the body, consisting of light, pure is He
Whom the ascetics (yati), with imperfections done away, behold.
6. Truth alone conquers, not falsehood.
By truth is laid out the path leading to the gods (devayāna)
By which the sages whose desire is satisfied ascend
To where is the highest repository of truth.
The universal inner Soul
7. Vast, heavenly, of unthinkable form,
And more minute than the minute, It shines forth.
It is farther than the far, yet here near at hand,
Set down in the secret place [of the heart], even here among those who behold [It].
Obtainable by contemplation, purified from sense
8. Not by sight is It grasped, not even by speech,
Not by any other sense-organs (deva), austerity, or work.
By the peace of knowledge (jñāna-prasāda), one’s nature purified—
In that way, however, by meditating, one does behold Him who is without parts.
9. That subtile Soul (Ātman) is to be known by thought (cetas)
Wherein the senses (prāṇa) fivefoldly have entered.
The whole of men’s thinking is interwoven with the senses.
When that is purified, the Soul (Ātman) shines forth.
The acquiring power of thought
10. Whatever world a man of purified nature makes clear in mind,
And whatever desires he desires for himself—
That world he wins, those desires too.
Therefore he who is desirous of welfare should praise the knower of the Soul (Ātman).
Desires as the cause of rebirth
1. He knows that Supreme Brahma-abode,
Founded on which the whole world shines radiantly.
They who, being without desire, worship the Person (Purusha)
And are wise, pass beyond the seed (śukra) [of rebirth] here.
2. He who in fancy forms desires,
Because of his desires is born [again] here and there.
But of him whose desire is satisfied, who is a perfected soul (kṛtātman),
All desires even here on earth vanish away.
The Soul (Ātman) known only by revelation to His own elect
3. This Soul (Ātman) is not to be obtained by instruction,
Nor by intellect, nor by much learning.
He is to be obtained only by the one whom He chooses;
To such a one that Soul (Ātman) reveals His own person (tanūm svām).1
Certain indispensable conditions, pre-eminently knowledge
4. This Soul (Ātman) is not to be obtained by one destitute of fortitude,
Nor through heedlessness, nor through a false notion of austerity (tapas).
But he who strives by these means, provided he knows—
Into his Brahma-abode this Soul (Ātman) enters.
In tranquil union with the Soul of all is liberation from death and from all distinctions of individuality
5. Attaining Him, the seers (ṛṣi) who are satisfied with knowledge,
Who are perfected souls (kṛtātman), from passion free (vītarāga), tranquil—
Attaining Him who is the universally omnipresent, those wise,
Devout souls (yuktātman) into the All itself do enter.
6. They who have ascertained the meaning of the Vedānta-knowledge,
Ascetics (yati) with natures purified through the application of renunciation (saṁnyāsa-yoga)—
They in the Brahma-worlds at the end of time
Are all liberated beyond death.
7. Gone are the fifteen parts2 according to their station,
Even all the sense-organs (deva) in their corresponding divinities!
One’s deeds (karman) and the self that consists of understanding (vijñāna-maya ātman)—
All become unified in the supreme Imperishable.
8. As the flowing rivers in the ocean
Disappear, quitting name and form,3
So the knower, being liberated from name and form,
Goes unto the heavenly Person, higher than the high.
The rewards and the requisite conditions of this knowledge of Brahma
9. He, verily, who knows that supreme Brahma, becomes very Brahma.1 In his family no one ignorant of Brahma arises. He crosses over sorrow. He crosses over sin (pāpman). Liberated from the knots of the heart, he becomes immortal.
10. This very [doctrine] has been declared in the verse:—
11. This is the truth. The seer (ṛṣi) Aṅgiras declared it in ancient time. One who has not performed the vow does not read this.
[1 ]The very same knowledge which Yājñavalkya declared to Maitreyī, Bṛih. 2. 4. 5 (end).
[2 ]Cf. Maitri 6. 22.
[2 ]A Sanskrit idiom for the modern term ‘individuality.’
[1 ]A variant reading is viśva-rucī, ‘All-gleaming.’
[2 ]Cf. ‘the seven-rayed Fire’ in RV. 1. 146. 1. Seven was an early sacrosanct number.
[3 ]That is, the four Vedas, each including Saṁhitā, Brāhmaṇa, and Sutra, and in addition the six Vedāṅgas which are enumerated at Muṇḍ. 1. 1. 5.
[4 ]With slight variation = Kaṭha 2. 5. and Maitri 7. 9.
[1 ]Cf. ‘the uncreated Brahma-world,’ Chānd. 8. 13.
[2 ]The token of pupilship.
[1 ]That is, the world of the fathers, and the world of the gods, respectively; described in Chānd. 5. 10.
[2 ]Śaṅkara explains these seven prāna as the seven organs of sense in the head (i. e. two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth). They are compared to seven different sacrificial oblations. The enlightenments produced by their activity are the flames of the sacrifice; the objects which supply their action, the fuel. Each sense moves in an appropriate world of its own; but they are all co-ordinated by the mind (manas), which is located in the heart. These same seven flames are probably referred to in Praśna 3. 5, end. Compare the seven flames of the regular sacrifices named at Muṇd. 1. 2. 4.
[1 ]With a double meaning, doubtless, in accordance with the great thought of metaphysical knowledge which is here being expounded. Besides being derivable from √vyadh, ‘to penetrate,’ viddhi means also ‘know.’
[3 ]This stanza = Katha 5. 15 and Śvet. 6. 14.
[1 ]This stanza is quoted from RV. 1. 164. 20; repeated at Śvet. 4. 6. Compare also Kaṭha 3. 1.
[2 ]Repeated at Śvet. 4. 7.
[3 ]The first three lines of this stanza are quoted at Maitri 6. 18.
[4 ]As in Chānd. 7. 25. 2.
[1 ]This stanza recurs at Kaṭha 2. 23.
[2 ]That is, of the microcosm back into the macrocosm. Cf. Praśna 6. 5.
[3 ]The Sanskrit idiom for ‘individuality.’
[1 ]In the title to his Latin translation, ‘Oupnekhat,’ Anquetil Duperron set this sentence evidently as the summary of the contents of the Upanishads: ‘Quisquis Deum intelligit, Deus fit,’ ‘whoever knows God, becomes God.’
[2 ]Identified with Prāṇa, ‘Life,’ in Praśna 2. 11. The reference, then, is probably to the mystical Prāṇāgnihotra sacrifice, in which ‘breath’ is symbolically sacrificed for an Agnihotra ceremony.
[3 ]Śaṅkara explains this as ‘carrying fire on the head—a well-known Vedic vow among followers of the Atharva-Veda.’ But it is more likely to be ‘shaving the head,’ as Buddhist monks did later. This preliminary requisite to the study of the Upanishad doubtless gave it the title ‘The Shaveling Upanishad,’ or ‘The Upanishad of the Tonsured.’