Front Page Titles (by Subject) FOURTH PRAPĀṬHAKA - The Thirteen Principal Upanishads
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
FOURTH 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The rule for the elemental soul’s complete union with the Soul at death
1. Then, indeed, assuredly, those chaste [Vālakhilyas], exceedingly amazed, united and said: “Sir, adoration be to you! Instruct us further. You are our way [of escape]. There is no other.
What is the rule (vidhi) for this elemental soul, whereby, on quitting this body, it may come to complete union (sāyujya) with the Soul (Ātman)?”
Then he said to them:—
The miserable condition of the individual Soul
2. “Now, it has elsewhere been said: ‘Like the waves in great rivers, there is no turning back of that which has previously been done. Like the ocean tide, hard to keep back is the approach of one’s death. Like a lame man—bound with the fetters made of the fruit of good and evil (sad-asad); like the condition of one in prison—lacking independence; like the condition of one in the realm of death—in a condition of great fear; like one intoxicated with liquor—intoxicated with delusion (moha); like one seized by an evil being—rushing hither and thither; like one bitten by a great snake—bitten by objects of sense; like gross darkness—the darkness of passion; like jugglery (indrajāla)—consisting of illusion (māyā-maya), like a dream—falsely apparent; like the pith of a bananatree—unsubstantial; like an actor—in temporary dress; like a painted scene—falsely delighting the mind.’
Moreover it has been said:—
The antidote: study of the Veda, performance of one’s own duty, and austerity
3. The antidote, assuredly, indeed, for this elemental soul (bhūtātman) is this: study of the knowledge of the Veda, and pursuit of one’s regular duty. Pursuit of one’s regular duty, in one’s own stage of the religious life—that, verily, is the rule! Other rules are like a bunch of grass. With this, one tends upwards; otherwise, downwards. That is one’s regular duty, which is set forth in the Vedas. Not by transgressing one’s regular duty does one come into a stage of the religious life. Some one says: ‘He is not in any of the stages of the religious life! Verily, he is one who practises austerity!’ That is not proper. [However], if one does not practise austerity, there is no success in the knowledge of the Soul (Ātman), nor perfection of works. For thus has it been said:—
Knowledge of Brahma, austerity, and meditation: the means of union with the Soul
4. ‘Brahma is!’ says he who knows the Brahma-knowledge.
‘This is the door to Brahma!’ says he who becomes free of evil by austerity.
‘Om is the greatness of Brahma!’ says he who, completely absorbed, meditates continually.
Therefore, by knowledge (vidyā), by austerity (tapas), and by meditation (cintā) Brahma is apprehended.
He becomes one who goes beyond [the lower] Brahma, even to the state of supreme divinity above the gods; he obtains a happiness undecaying, unmeasured, free from sickness—he who, knowing this, reverences Brahma with this triad [i. e. knowledge, austerity, and meditation].
So when this chariot-rider1 is liberated from those things wherewith he was filled full and overcome, then he attains complete union (sāyujya) with the Ātman (Soul).”
Worship of the various popular gods is permissible and rewarding, but temporary and inferior
5. Then they said: “Sir, you are the explainer! You are the explainer!2 What has been said has been duly fixed in mind by us.—Now, answer a further question.
Agni (Fire), Vāyu (Wind), and Āditya (Sun); time—whatever it is—, breath, and food; Brahmā, Rudra, and Vishṇu3 —some meditate upon one, some upon another. Tell us which one is the best?”
Then he said to them:—
6. “These are, assuredly, the foremost forms of the supreme, the immortal, the bodiless Brahma. To whichever one each man is attached here, in its world he rejoices indeed. For thus has it been said4 : ‘Verily, this whole world is Brahma.’
Verily, these, which are its foremost forms, one should meditate upon, and praise, but then deny. For with these one moves higher and higher in the worlds. But in the universal dissolution he attains the unity of the Person—yea, of the Person!” ’5
[1 ]For the same metaphor of the individual soul riding in the body as in a vehicle see above, 2. 3. and 2. 6; also Kaṭha 3. 3.
[2 ]If instead of abhivādī the reading should be ativādī, as in Chānd. 7. 15. 4. and Muṇḍ. 3. 1. 4, then the translation would be: ‘You are a superior speaker! You are a superior speaker!’
[3 ]Note the three triads: an old Vedic trinity, three principles speculated about as philosophic causes, and the famous Brahmanic trinity.
[4 ]Chānd. 3. 14. 1.
[5 ]This evidently is the end of the conversation, begun in 2. 3, between the Vālakhilyas and Prajāpati, as derived by tradition from Maitri and narrated by Śākāyanya to King Bṛihadratha. The remainder of the Upanishad up to 6. 29 is supposedly a continuation of Śākāyanya’s long discourse; but without a doubt it consists of several supplements, as even the commentator explains with regard to the Sixth and Seventh Prapāṭhakas.