Front Page Titles (by Subject) FIRST PRAPĀṬHAKA - The Thirteen Principal Upanishads
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FIRST PRAPĀṬHAKA - 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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Meditation upon the Soul (Ātman), the essence and the true completion of religious sacrifice
1. That which for the ancients was [merely] a building up [of sacrificial fires] was, verily, a sacrifice to Brahma.1 Therefore with the building of these sacrificial fires the sacrificer should meditate upon the Soul (Ātman). So, verily, indeed, does the sacrifice become really complete and indeficient.
Who is he that is to be meditated upon?
He who is called Life (prāṇa)!
A tale thereof:—
The ascetic king Bṛihadratha, being offered a boon, chooses knowledge of the Soul (Ātman)
2. Verily, a king, Bṛihadratha by name, after having established his son in the kingdom, reflecting that this body is non-eternal, reached the state of indifference towards the world (vairāgya), and went forth into the forest. There he stood, performing extreme austerity, keeping his arms erect, looking up at the sun.
At the end of a thousand [days]2 there came into the presence of the ascetic, the honorable knower of the Soul (Ātman), Śākāyanya, like a smokeless fire, burning as it were with glow. ‘Arise! Arise! Choose a boon!’ said he to the king.
He did obeisance to him and said: ‘Sir, I am no knower of the Soul (Ātman). You are one who knows its true nature, we have heard. So, do you tell us.’
‘Such things used to occur! Very difficult [to answer] is this question! Aikshvāka, choose other desires!’ said Śākāyanya.
With his head touching that one’s feet, the king uttered this speech:—
Pessimistically he rejects evanescent earthly desires, and craves only liberation from reincarnate existence
3. ‘Sir, in this ill-smelling, unsubstantial body, which is a conglomerate of bone, skin, muscle, marrow, flesh, semen, blood, mucus, tears, rheum, feces, urine, wind, bile, and phlegm, what is the good of enjoyment of desires? In this body, which is afflicted with desire, anger, covetousness, delusion, fear, despondency, envy, separation from the desirable, union with the undesirable, hunger, thirst, senility, death, disease, sorrow, and the like, what is the good of enjoyment of desires?
4. And we see that this whole world is decaying, as these gnats, mosquitoes, and the like, the grass, and the trees that arise and perish.
But, indeed, what of these? There are others superior, great warriors, some world-rulers, Sudyumna, Bhūridyumna, Indradyumna, Kuvalayāśva, Yauvanāśva, Vadhryaśva, Aśvapati, Śaśabindu, Hariścandra, Ambarīsha, Nahusha, Śaryāti, Yayāti, Anaraṇya, Ukshasena, and the rest; kings, too, such as Marutta, Bharata, and others. With a crowd of relatives looking on, they renounced great wealth and went forth from this world into that.
But, indeed, what of these? There are others superior. We see the destruction of Gandharvas (demigods), Asuras (demons), Yakshas (sprites), Rākshasas (ogres), Bhūtas (ghosts), spirit-bands, goblins, serpents, vampires, and the like.
But, indeed, what of these? Among other things, there is the drying up of great oceans, the falling away of mountain peaks, the deviation of the fixed pole-star, the cutting of the wind-cords [of the stars], the submergence of the earth, the retreat of the celestials from their station.
In this sort of cycle of existence (saṁsāra) what is the good of enjoyment of desires, when after a man has fed on them there is seen repeatedly his return here to earth?
Be pleased to deliver me. In this cycle of existence I am like a frog in a waterless well. Sir, you are our way of escape—yea, you are our way of escape!’
[1 ]Or the meaning may be: ‘The building up of the previous [sacrificial fires, described in the antecedent Maitrāyaṇī Saṁhitā,] was verily a sacrifice to Brahma.’
[2 ]The commentator Rāmatīrtha supplies ‘years.’