Kaivalya Upaniṣad

Translation by Dr. Radhakrishnan


The Upaniṣad belongs to the Atharva Veda and is called Kaivalya Upaniṣad as its study and practice lead to the state of Kaivalya or aloneness.


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I Then Ᾱśvalayana approached the Venerable Lord Brahma and said: Teach (me), Venerable Sir, the knowledge of Brahman, supreme, sought constantly by the wise, hidden, that by which the knower is soon freed from impurities and attains the person greater than the great.

Atha: then, after having prepared himself for the acquisition of wisdom.

Yaya: yathā, as


2. Brahma the grandsire said to him (Ᾱśvalayana): Seek to know (Brahman) by faith, devotion, meditation and concentration. Not by work, not by offspring, or wealth, only by renunciation does one reach life eternal.

3. It is higher than heaven, shines in the cave of the heart Those who strive (for it) enter into it.

4 The ascetics who have ascertained well the meaning of the Vedanta knowledge, who have purified their natures through the path of renunciation, they (dwelling) in the worlds of Brahma, at the end of time, being one with the immortal, are all liberated.

See M.U III 2 6

928 The Principal Upaniṣads 8


5 In a solitary place, seating oneself in an easy posture, with a pure heart, with the head, neck and body straight, in the last order of life, controlling all the senses, bowing with devotion to the teacher.

in the last order of life: atyāśramasthaḥ is another reading, 'having passed beyond all orders of life.'

6 Meditating on the lotus of the heart, devoid of passion and pure, m the center of which is the pure, the sorrowless, the inconceivable, the unmanifest, of infinite form, the blissful, the tranquil, the immortal, the source of Brahma.

Brahma is the creator, the world-spirit.

Viraja: devoid of passion or the quality of rajas.


7 Him who is without beginning, middle or end, who is one, all-pervading, who is wisdom and bliss, who is formless, wonderful, who has Umā as his companion, the highest lord, the ruler, who is the three-eyed, who has a dark throat, who is tranquil, by meditating on rum the sage reaches the source of beings, the witness of all, who is beyond (all) darkness.

who has a dark throat: Siva is said to have taken the poison which came to the top when the ocean was churned, and kept it in his throat.


8 He is Brahma (the creator), he is Siva (the judge), he is Indra, he is the imperishable, supreme, the lord of himself. He is Viṣṇu (the preserver), he is life, he is time, he is fire, he is the moon.


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9. He is all, what has been and what shall be. He is eternal By knowing him one conquers death. There is no other way to liberation.

10 By seeing the self in all beings and all beings in the self one goes to Brahman, not by any other cause.

not by any other cause: there is no other way to liberation.


11. Making one's body the lower firestick and the syllable aum the upper firestick, by the effort of kindling (the flame of) knowledge, the knower burns the bond (of ignorance).

Sees S.U 1.14.

Pāsam: bond of aj˝āna. V. pāpam: He bums away the evil or the impurity.

Prepared by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj


12. The same self, veiled by māyā attains a body and performs all work. In the waking state he attains satisfaction by the varied enjoyments of women, food and drink.

13. In the state of dream the self experiences happiness or sorrow m the worlds created by his own māyā. In the state of dreamless sleep in which all things disappear, overcome by darkness, he experiences happiness.

See Mā. U

viśva-loke: V. Jīva-loke


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I4. Again, he (the individual Jīva) on account of his connection with the deeds of his past life wakes up and sleeps. He revels in the three states of consciousness (waking, dream and dreamless sleep) and from him all this varied world is born. In him who is the support, who is the bliss, who is indivisible wisdom are merged the three states of consciousness.

The three bodies are the gross, the subtle and the causal ones.


15. From him are born life, mind and all the senses, sky, air, light, water and earth which is the support of all existence.

16. He is the supreme Brahman, the self of all, the chief foundation of this world, subtler than the subtle, eternal. That thou art, Thou art That.

17. The world which shines in the states of waking, dream and dreamless sleep, knowing that it is Brahman who I am, one is freed from all fetters.

Cp ayam ātmā brahma.


18. In the three states of consciousness whatever appears as the object of enjoyment, or the enjoyer or the enjoyment, I am different from them, the witness (thereof), pure consciousness, the eternal Siva.

19. From me all proceed, in me all exist, and to me all return. That Brahman without a second am I.



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20. I am subtler than the subtle, greater than the great. I am this manifold universe. I am the ancient, the person. I am the lord of golden hue. I am Siva.

21. I am without hands and feet, of inconceivable powers. I see without eyes. I hear without ears. I know (all). I am of one form. None knows me. I am always pure consciousness.

22. I am the One to be known through the many Vedas. I am the maker of the Vedanta and the knower of the Vedas. Merit or demerit I have none (do not affect me). There is no destruction for me, no birth or body, senses or intellect.

23 I have not earth, water, fire, air, ether. Knowing the nature of the Supreme Self, dwelling in the cave of the heart, stainless without a second, the witness of all, free from (the duality of) existent and non-existent, he obtains the pure nature of the Supreme Self.

24 Whoever reads śatarudrīya (this Upaniṣad connected with it) becomes pure as fire, he becomes pure as air, he becomes purified from (the fault of) stealing gold, he becomes purified from (the fault of) drinking liquor, he becomes purified from (the fault of) murdering a Brāhmaṇa, he becomes purified from (the faults of) commission and omission Therefore one should


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strive to become freed (from these faults) He who has freed himself from the different orders of life should meditate (on this Upaniṣad) constantly or occasionally.

25 He obtains this wisdom which destroys the ocean of births and deaths. By knowing this he obtains the state of Kaivalya, he obtains the state of Kaivalya.


Anyone who by faith, devotion and meditation realizes the Self and becomes one with the Supreme Brahman is released from the wheel of time and change, from sorrow, birth and death.