Translation by Dr. Radhakrishnan

Prepared by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

The Aitareya Upaniad belongs to the g Veda and the Upaniṣad proper consists of three chapters. This is part of the Aitareya Ārayaka, and the Upaniad begins with the Fourth Chapter of the second Ārayaka, and comprises Chapters IV, V, and VI. The preceding parts deal with sacrificial ceremonies like the mahāvrata and their interpretations. It is the purpose of the Upaniṣad to lead the mind of the sacrificer away from the outer ceremonial to its inner meaning. All true sacrifice is inward. S points out that there are three classes of men who wish to acquire wisdom. The highest consists of those who have turned away from the world, whose minds are freed and collected, who are eager for freedom. For these the Upaniṣad (Ᾱitareya Āraṇyaka II. 4-6) is intended. There are others who wish to become free gradually by attaining to the world of Hiraṇya-garbha. For them the knowledge and worship of prāṇa life-breath is intended. (Ᾱitareya Āraṇyaka II. 1-3). There are still others who care only for worldly possessions. For them the meditative worship of the Saṁhitā is intended. (Ᾱitareya Āraṇyaka III). See Son Ᾱitareya Āraṇyaka III.1.1.


My speech is well established in my mind. My mind, is well established in my speech. O Thou manifest one, be manifest for me. Be a nail for my Veda. Do not let go my learning. By this that has been studied, I maintain days and nights, I will speak of the right. I will speak of the true. May that protect me. May that protect the speaker. Let that protect me. Let that protect the speaker, Let that protect the speaker. Aum, peace, peace, peace.

be a nail: let the spirit of the Scriptures be constantly present.


Section I


I.1.1. The self, verily, was (all) this, one only, in the beginning. Nothing else whatsoever winked. He thought, 'let me now create the worlds.'

See B,U. I. 4, I.

idam: (all] this, the manifested universe.

one only: Everything is derived from ātman to which there is no second.

'Nothing else whatsoever winked.' This is by way of refutation of the Sāṁkhya dualism. The non-being of matter which is assumed

for explaining creation is not external to the Supreme.


I.1.2. He created these worlds, water, light rays, death and the waters, This water is above the heaven. The heaven is its support. The light rays are the atmosphere. Death is the earth. What are beneath, they are the waters.

Earth is called mara or death, because all beings on earth die.

'Although the worlds are composed of the five elements, still from the preponderance of water, they are called by names meaning

water such as ambhas, etc.' S.


I.1.3. He thought, 'Here then are the worlds. Let me now create the guardians of the worlds.' From the waters themselves, he drew forth the person and gave him a shape.


I.1.4. He brooded over him. Of him who has thus been brooded over the mouth was separated out, like an egg. From the mouth speech, from speech fire. The nostrils were separated out: from the nostrils breath, from breath air. The eyes were separated out: from the eyes sight, from sight the sun. The ears were separated out: from the ears hearing and from hearing the quarters of space. The skin was separated out: from the skin the hairs, from the hairs plants and trees. The heart was separated out: from the heart the mind and from the mind, the moon. The navel was separated out: from the navel, the outbreath, from the outbreath death. The generative organ was separated out: from it semen, from semen water.


like an egg: as is the case with an egg. when it is hatched.

Section 2


I.2.1. These divinities thus created fell into this great ocean. (The self) subjected that (person) to hunger and thirst. They

said to him (the creator), 'Find out for us an abode, wherein established we may eat food.'


arṇave: in the ocean: saṁsāra is generally compared to an ocean.

saṁsārārṇave, saṁsāra -samudre. S.

prāpatan: fell, patitavatyaḥ. S.


 I.2.2. For them, he brought a cow. They said, 'Indeed this is not enough for us.' For them he brought a horse. They said, 'Indeed this is not enough for us.'


I.2.3· For them he brought a person. They said, 'Well done indeed: A person verily is (what is) well done. He said to them, enter into your respective abodes.'


I.2.4. Fire, becoming speech, entered the mouth. Air becoming breath, entered the nostrils. The sun, becoming sight, entered the eyes. The quarters of space, becoming hearing, entered the ears. Plants and trees, becoming hairs entered the skin. The moon, becoming the mind, entered the heart. Death, becoming the outbreath, entered the navel: water becoming semen entered the generative organ.


I.2.5. To him (the creator), hunger and thirst said, 'For us (also) find out an abode.' He said to them. 'I assign you a place in these divinities and make you sharers with them. Therefore to whatever divinity an offering is made, hunger and thirst become partakers in it.

Section 3


I.3.1. He thought, 'Here are the worlds and the guardians of the worlds. Let me create food for them.'


I.3.2. He brooded over the waters and from the waters so brooded over issued a form. That whichever was produced as that form is, verily, food.


I.3.3. This so created wished to flee away. (The person) sought to seize it with speech. He was not able to take hold of it by speech. If, indeed, he had taken hold of it by speech, even with speech, one would have had the satisfaction of food.

By merely talking of food, one will not be satisfied.

ajighṛkṣat: sought to seize.

atrapsyat: would have had satisfaction.


 I.3.4. (The person) sought to seize it with breath. He was not able to take hold of it by breath. If, indeed, he had taken hold of it by breath, even with breath one would have had the satisfaction of food.

By merely breathing toward food, no satisfaction of the appetite is possible.


I.3.5. (The person) sought to seize it with sight. He was not able to take hold of it by sight. If, indeed, he had taken hold of it by sight, even with the sight (of food) one would have had the satisfaction of food.


I.3.6. (The person) sought to seize it with hearing. He was not able to take hold of it by hearing. If indeed, he had taken hold of it by hearing, even with the hearing (of food), one would have had the satisfaction of food.


I.3.7. (The person) sought to by the skin. He was not able to take hold of it by the skin. Indeed, he had taken hold of it by the skin, even with the skin (i.e. by touching food) one would have had the satisfaction of food.


I.3.8. (The person) sought to seize it by the mind. He was not able to take hold of it by the mind. If, indeed, he had taken hold of it by the mind, even with the mind (i.e. by thinking of food), one would have had the satisfaction of food.


I.3.9. (The person) sought to see it by the generative organ. He was not able to take hold of it by the generative organ. If, indeed, he had taken hold of it by the generative organ, even by emission one would have had the satisfaction of food.


I.3.10. Then, the person, sought to seize it by the out-breath. He got it. The grasper of food is what air is. This one living on food, is, verily. what air is.


I.3.11. He thought, How can this food exist without me? He thought, through what (way) shall I enter it? He thought

(again), If speaking is through speech, if breathing is through breath, if seeing is through the eyes, hearing is through the ears, if touching is through the skin,if meditation is through the mind, if breathing out is through the outbreath, if emission is through the generative organ, then who am I?


Speech, etc. are effects and serve a master. The body is like a city and there must be a lord of the city.  It is for the enjoyer, svāmy-artham. So the enjoyer must enter the body. So the question is raised, 'through what way shall I enter it?' .The forepart of the foot and the crown of the head are the two ways of entrance into this body, the collection of several parts. By which of these two ways shall I enter this city, this bundle of causes and effects?' Ś.


I.3.12. After opening that very end (of the head), by that way he entered. This is the opening known as vidṛti. This is the

pleasing. For that, there are three abodes; three kinds of dreams as: this is the abode; this is the abode; this is the abode.


l sīman: the very end (of the head), the sagittal suture. This is the highest center of spiritual consciousness, called the sahasrā, the

thousand-petalled lotus. It is said to be situated in the center of the brain.

l three kinds of dreams: Reference is to the three conditions of waking, dream and deep sleep of the Māṇḍūkya U. The ordinary condition of waking is said to be a dream as distinguished from the state of enlightenment.'

Śaṁkara explains that the right eye is the abode during the waking state: the inner mind (antar-manas) during dream and the space

of the heart (hṛdayākāśa)during profound sleep. He offers an alternative interpretation. The three abodes are the body of one's

father, the womb of one's mother and one's own body.


I.3.I3. He, being born, perceived the created beings, what else here would one desire to speak? He perceived this very person Brahman all-pervading, 'I have seen this,' he said.

tatamam: all-pervading.


I.3.I4. Therefore his name is Idandra. Indeed, Idandra is the name. Of him who is Idandra, they speak indirectly (cryptically) as Indra. Gods appear indeed to be fond of the cryptic.


Idandra: the perceiver of this.

Indra: is a word denoting an object beyond the range of vision.



II.1.1. In a person, indeed, this one first becomes an embryo. That which is semen is the vigour come together from all the limbs. In the self, indeed, one bears a self. When he sheds this in a woman, he then gives it birth. That is its first birth.


II.1.2. It becomes one with the woman, just as a limb of her own. Therefore it does not hurt her. She nourishes this self of his that has come into her.


II.1.3. She, being the nourisher, should be nourished. The woman bears him as an embryo. He nourishes the child before birth and after the birth. While he nourishes the child before birth and after the birth, he thus nourishes his own self for the continuation of these worlds; for thus are these worlds continued. This is one's second birth.

agre: before (birth).

adhi: after (birth).

ātmānam: his own self. The father is said to be born as the son.


II.1.4. He (the son) who is one self of his (father) is made his substitute for (performing) pious deeds. Then the other self of his (father's) having accomplished his work, having reached his age, departs. So departing hence, he is indeed, born again. That is his third birth. That has been stated by the seer.

prayann eva: departing.


II.1.5. 'While I was in the womb, I knew all the births of the gods. A hundred strongholds made of steel guarded me. I burst

out of it with the swiftness of a hawk. Vāma-deva spoke this verse even when he was lying in the womb.


II.1.6. He knowing thus and springing upward, when the body is dissolved, enjoyed all desires in that world of heaven and became immortal, yea, became (immortal).


III.1.1. 'Who is this one?' We worship him as the self.' 'Which one is the self?' 'He by whom one sees, or by whom one hears,

or by whom one smells odors, or by whom one articulates speech or by whom one discriminates the sweet and the unsweet.'

Another reading will give 'Who is he whom we worship as the self? Which one is the self? He by whom . . .'


III.1.2. That which is heart, this mind, that is consciousness, perception, discrimination, intelligence, wisdom, insight, stead­

fastness, thought, thoughtfulness, impulse, memory, conception, purpose, life, desire, control, all these, indeed, are names

of intelligence.

Here we find a classification of various mental functions, the different kinds of perception, conception, intuition as well as feeling

and will.


III.1.3. He is Brahma, he is Indra; he is Prajā-pati, he is all these gods; and these five great elements, namely, earth, air, ether,

water, light; these things and these which are mingled of the fire, as it were, the seeds of one sort and another; those born

from an egg, and those born from a womb, and those born from sweat, and those born from a sprout; horses, cows, persons

and elephants, whatever breathing thing there is here, whether moving or flying or what is stationary. All this is guided by

intelligence, is established in intelligence. The world is guided by intelligence. The support is intelligence. Brahma is intelligence.

Intelligence is said to be the basis of all existence the final reality. We see here the anticipations of the Buddhist Vijńānavāda.


III.1.4. He, with this intelligent self, soared upward from this world and having enjoyed all desires in that world of heaven became immortal, yea became (immortal).

he: the sage Vāmadeva.