Front Page Titles (by Subject) FIRST MUṆḌAKA Preparation for the knowledge of Brahma - The Thirteen Principal Upanishads
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FIRST MUṆḌAKA Preparation for the knowledge of Brahma - 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.
[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.