The Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad
belongs to the Taittirīya school of the Yajur Veda. Its name is derived
from the sage who taught it, It is theistic in character and identifies the
Supreme Brahman with Rudra who is conceived as the material and the
efficient cause of the world, not only the author of the world but its
protector and guide. The elements associated with theism, Personal God and devotion to Him, which are to be met with
undoubtedly in the other Upaniṣads, become prominent in the
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad. The emphasis is not on Brahman
the Absolute, whose complete perfection does not admit of any change or
evolution but on the personal Īśvara, omniscient
and omnipotent who is the manifested Brahman. Terms which were used by
the later Sāṁkhya philosophy occur in the Upaniṣad, but the
dualism of the Brahman, puruṣa and prakṛti,
is overcome. Nature or pradhāna is not an
independent entity but belongs to the self of the Divine,
devātma-śakti. God Is the māyin, the maker of the world
which is māyā
or made by him2
The Upaniṣad teaches the unity of the souls and the world in the one
Supreme Reality. The Upaniṣad is an attempt to reconcile the different
philosophical and religious views which prevailed at the time of its
CONCERNING THE FIRST CAUSE
ब्रह्म कुतः स्म
जाता, जीवामः केन क्व
brahma kutaḥ sma jātā, jīvāmaḥ kena kva ca
sukhetareṣu vartāmahe brahmavido vyavasthām ŚU 1.1
1.1. Those who discourse on Brahman say What is the cause? (Is it] Brahman?
Whence are we born? By what do we live? And on what are
we established? O ye who know Brahman, (tell us) presided
over by whom do we live our different conditions in pleasures and other
than pleasures (pains).
पुरुष इति चिन्त्या
एषम् न त्वात्मभावाद्
niyatir yadṛcchā bhūtāni yoniḥ puruṣa iti
saṃyoga eṣam na
tvātma-bhāvād ātmāpy anīśaḥ
1.2. Time, inherent nature,
necessity, chance, the elements, the womb or the person (should they) be
considered as the cause? It cannot be a combination of these because of the
existence of the soul. Even the soul is powerless in respect of the cause
of pleasure and pain.
Cintyā = Cintyam.
We are told that 'Time is a horse with seven reins ... him the knowing poets mount.'
In the same verse, it is said that 'all the worlds are his wheels.' The
creative and destructive functions of Kāla or time are brought out in the M.B.
It also asserts that there is a time-transcending
element which overcomes even time-the soul, the
living self, Jīva which is not an independent cause, but is subject to
the law of karma.
Ātmā = the soul, the living self, Jīva which is not an independent
cause, but is subject to the law of karma.
yoniḥ = the womb. prakṛti which is the mother of all possibilities in the world. The different views are
mentioned as they were suggested in the previous history of Indian thought.
The non-conscious cannot be the cause of the conscious. The conscious human being cannot be the ultimate cause for he is not the determiner of his own destiny.
dhyāna-yogānugatā apaśyan devātma-śaktiṃ
yaḥ kāraṇāni nikhilāni tāni
kālātmayuktāny adhitiṣṭhaty ekaḥ ŚUp_1.3
1.3.Those who followed
after (were devoted to) meditation and contemplation saw the self-power of
the Divine hidden in its own qualities. He is the one who rules over all
these causes from time to the soul.
Tasyābhidhyānāt: It seems to foreshadow the praṇidhāna of the Yoga Satra I. 23. Bhakti or
devotion is a natural development
devātma-śakti: the self-power of the Divine. It is not like the prakṛti of the Sāṁkhya, independent of God.
śakti of the
cause of the world. It is of the
the Supreme and not independent.
There is no reason, as Plotinus says, why
the spirit should remain stationary in itself. It is not impotent
as it is the source and potentiality
of all things. Enneads V. 6.
I. Nothing is lost by its creative activity.
the power of
Spirit penetrates the whole spiritual
world and the
world of souls.
sva-guṇair nigūḍhām: hidden
in its own qualities. I. The self-power of the Divine is hidden by
of the Lord, devātmanā, Īśvara-rūpeṇa
avasthitām. S. The power of manifestation (māyā-śakti) is in the form of Īśvara, the Supreme Lord.
2. The self-power of
the Divine is hidden
by the three
qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. It is the cause of the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the
3. The qualities may
refer to the
of prakṛti, puruṣa, and Īśvara.
4. The power of the Lord to create, preserve and dissolve the world is looked upon as the
Brahman, the unconditioned Absolute, cannot be regarded as
the cause of the world. It can only be described
So it is that the causation of the world is traced to māyā or prakṛti which is the power of Brahman conceived as Īśvara.
THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL IN DISTRESS
द्विनिमित्तैकमोहम् Ś.U 1.4
eka-nemiṁ trivṛtaṁ ṣoḍaśāntaṁ
viśva-rūpaika-pāśaṁ tri-mārga-bhedaṁ dvini-mittaika-moham
1.4. (We understand) Him (as a wheel) with one
felly, with three tires, sixteen ends, fifty spokes, twenty counter-spokes
and six sets of eights, whose one rope is manifold, which has three
different paths, whose one delusion (arises) from two causes.
In this and the following verses, the world is compared
to a rotating
wheel or a flowing stream. Its
chief characteristic is movement and these images bring it
eka-nemiṁ: with one felly. Īśvara is the one source of
the manifested world. The root cause of
the whole world described in different ways
has its locus in Īśvara.
Īśvara uses prakṛti for creation.
It is usual to describe the world as a wheel. ekam pādam nokṣipati Sanatsujātiya VI.
trvrtam: with three tires, threefold. Reference is to the three guṇas sativa, rajas
ṣoḍaśāntaṁ: sixteen ends. Reference is
to the five
five organs of action (karmendriya) and the mind
(manas). Prakṛti and its twenty-three evolutes are
sometimes divided into two groups
of eight and sixteen. The group of eight is called prakṛti or mūla-prakṛti
consists of prakṛti. buddhi, aham-kāra and the five elements. The group of
sixteen called vikāra consists of
mind, the ten organs and
the five objects of the senses.
This view is accepted by Tattua-samāsa I and 2.
Sāṁkhya Kārikā divides the 24 into three groups: 1. prakrti; 2. 7 called
prakṛti-vikṛti; and 3. 16 called vikṛti. The last are called
Ṣodaśaka gaṇa (22).
This expression may refer to the sixteen Kalas mentioned in Prasna VI. I.
śatārdhāraṁ: fifty spokes. They represent the forces which
move the wheel. S mentions the five viparyayas, tamas, moha, mahā-mohas tāmisra and andhatāmisra (they may also refer to ignorance, self-love, love, hatred and fear.
Yoga Sūtra I.8; II. 2. Sāṁkhya Sūtra
III. 37); twenty-eight aśaktis or disabilities.
III. 28; the nine inversions of the tuṣṭis, satisfactions, Ibid III. 39; the eight inversions of
or perfections (III. 40). The various subdivisions of viparyaya, aśakti, tuṣṭi and siddhi given in Sāṁkhya Kārikā. 46 ff. form a set of fifty. See E. H. Johnston: Some Sāṁkhya and Yoga Conceptions of the śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad. Journal, of the Royal Asiatic Society, October 1940, pp. 855 ff.
pratyarābhiḥ: counter-spokes. These are the ten organs of
perception and action and their objects. Praśna IV. 8. It
may also refer to the five elements with the
of the senses and the ten organs.
See M.B. XII. 112. 38-41.
ṣaḍbhiḥ: six sets of eights. The six are I. prakṛti: with its eight
causes of the five elements,
mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), and self-sense (aham-kāra), see B.G. VII. 4;
2. dhātu: with the eight constituents of the body; 3. aiśvarya: lordship with its eight forms;
4. bhāva: eight conditions; 5. deva: gods with their eight classes; and 6. ātma-guṇa.: virtues which are also eight.
viśva-rūpaika-pāśam: whose one rope is manifold.It is desire or Karma viśva-rūpa, nānā-rūpa eka~ kāmākhyaḥ pāśaḥ. S. Viśva-rūpa is often used for the soul which
is subject to
tri-mārga-bhedaṁ: which has three different
paths to salvation explained as dharma, religiousness, adharma
jńāna or wisdom.
moha: delusion or ignorance of sell
which is produced
causes. good or bad works. Both
of them commit us to the wheel of rebirth.
pańca-śad-bhedāṁ pańca-parvām-adhīmaḥ Ś.Up_1.5
meditate on him as a river of five streams, from five sources, fierce and crooked, whose waves are the
five vital Breaths, whose original source is the fivefold perception, with five whirlpools, an
impetuous flood of five pains, divided into fifty kinds (of suffering) with five branches.
The reality of the world and its relation to the Supreme Īśvara are brought
pańcasroto'mbuṁ: having for its water
has five streams. srotas also used for sense organ.
indriya: the stream of perceptions
which each sense organ receives from
the outer world. These streams flow from the senses to the mind which
is said to have five
streams. Nilakantha identifies it with mind or manas.
Yoga Sūtra mentions the five kleśas as avidyā asmitā aśakti, rāga, abhiniveśa.
Vācaspati Miśra on Sāṁkhya
Kārikā (47) explains pańca-viparyayabedhāḥ by a quotation
च मत्वा जुष्टस्
एति Ś.U १.६
sarvasaṁsthe bṛhante tasmin haṁso bhrāmyate
pṛthag ātmānaṁ preritāraṁ ca matvā juṣṭas
tatas tenāmṛtatvam eti Ś.U 1.6
1.5.In this vast brahma-wheel,
in which all rest, the soul flutters
about thinking that the self in him and
the Mover (the
Lord) are different. Then when blessed by him, he gains life eternal.
Both Īśvara and the individual
soul belong to the manifested world.
brahma-cakram: Gaudapada gives Brahman as a synonym for prakṛti. The soul of man is a traveler wandering in this cycle of Brahma which is huge, a totality of lives, a totality
of states, thinking itself to be different from the Impeller of the journey. The soul
reaches its goal of
immortality when it is accepted by the Supreme.
एतत् परमं तु ब्रह्म
udgītam etat paramaṁ tu
brahma tasmiṁs trayaṁ supratiṣṭhākṣaraṁ
atrāntaraṁ brahma-vido’viditvā līnā brahmaṇi
has been sung as the supreme Brahman and in it is the
triad. It is the firm support, the imperishable. The knowers
of Brahman by knowing what is therein become merged in Brahman, intent thereon and freed from birth.
supratiṣṭhā: v. sapratiṣṭhā, svapratiṣṭhā.
brahma-vido:v. veda·vido. knowers of the Vedas.
paramam: Supreme. Prapańca-dharma-rahitam.S.
trayam: the triad, the individual soul, the
world and the cosmic lord.
bhoktā, bhogyam, preritāram. S.
एतत् क्षरम् अक्षरं
saṁyuktam etat kṣaram akṣaraṁ
ca vyaktāvyaktam bharate viśvam īśaḥ
badhyate bhoktr-bhāvāt jńātvā devam mucyate
1.8. The Lord supports all this which is a
combination of the
mutable and the immutable,
the manifest and the
unmanifest. And the soul, not being the Lord, is bound because of his being an enjoyer. By
knowing God (the soul) is freed from all fetters.
See B.G. XV. 16-17. The later doctrine of Śaiva-siddhānta with its distinctions of Paśu, Pati, pāśa, the
creature, the lord and the bond,
ह्य् एका भोक्तृभोगार्थयुक्ता
ह्य् अकर्ता त्रयम्
यदा विन्दते ब्रह्मम्
jńājńau dvāv ajāv
īśanīśāv ajā hy ekā bhoktṛ-bhogyārtha-yuktā
viśva-rūpo hy akartā trayam yadā vindate brahmam
1.9. There are two unborn ones,
the knowing and the unknowing, the one all-powerful, the other powerless.
Indeed there is (another) one who is unborn,
connected with the enjoyer and the objects of enjoyment. And there is the
infinite self, of universal form, non-active, When one finds out this triad
that is Brahman.
individual soul, the personal god and prakṛti
or nature are all contained in Brahman: The doctrine of the triune unity elaborated later
by Rāmānuja is suggested here. For
Rāmānuja, God is the soul of nature as well as the soul of souls.
distinctions of enjoyer, enjoyment, and enjoyed are contained in Brahman: bhoktṛ,bhoga-bhogya-rūpam.
akartṛ: non-active. kartṛtvādi-Sāṁsāra--dharma-rahitaḥ..S. In commenting
on this verse, S makes out that the manifested world is due to the power of māyā
which is not independent of Brahman and so
does not constitute a second to it. As it is responsible for the manifested world it is not a nonentity. Its nature is indescribable.
ईशते देव एकः /
// १.१० //
kṣaram pradhānam amṛtākṣaraṁ
haraḥ kṣarātmānāv īśate deva ekaḥ
yojanāt tattvabhāvād bhūyaś cānte
1.10. What is perishable is the pradhāna (primary matter). What is immortal and imperishable
is Hara (the Lord). Over both the perishable and the soul the one God rules. By
meditating on Him, by uniting with Him, by
reflecting on His being more and more, there is complete cessation from the illusion of the world.
perishable is the pradhāna (primary matter). What is immortal and imperishable is Hara (the Lord). Over both the perishable and the soul the one God rules. By
meditating on Him, by uniting with
Him, by reflecting on His being more and more, there is
complete cessation from the illusion of the world.
hara: one of the names of Siva; S explains hara as one who removes ignorance. avidyāder
Salutations to Bhava or Brahma. in whom rajas preponderates for the creation of the universe, salutation to Hara
or Siva in whom tamas preponderates
for the destruction (of the universe). Salutation to Mṛḍa or Viṣṇu in whom sattva preponderates for giving
Salutation to Siva who is effulgent and beyond the three attributes.
meditating on him: The way by which the soul is awakened to the
divine core of his being is abhidhyāna, an intense
of the Savior
God. It leads to contemplative union with the object and
identification with his essential reality. This
intimate worship, intuition of one's own inner being. The
embodied Jīva becomes one with God.
Viśva-māyā. illusion of the world.
When we reach Kaivalya, there IS a total cessation of the world. The contemplator rises above the cosmlc structure and attains Brahma-nirvāṇa.
// १.११ //
dehabhede viśvaiśvaryaṁ kevala āptakāmaḥ Ś.Up 1.11
1.11. By knowing God there is a falling off of all
fetters; when the sufferings are destroyed, there is cessation
of birth and death. By meditating
on Him, there is the
third state; on the dissolution of the body,
universal lordship; being alone,
his desire is fulfilled.
This verse describes the
different sides and stages of liberation. Negatively it is freedom from birth and
death: positively it is oneness with Īśvara, so long as there is the manifested world and oneness with Brahman when the manifested world ceases to exist. A
distinction is made here between dhyāna or
to lordship and jńāna or wisdom which leads
The former, which is the contemplation of
of devotion, is a stage to the latter, which is the contemplation of Intelligence, the blaze of discernment. So long as the cosmic process continues the Personal Lord presides over it and the freed individual becomes a co-worker with Him. When the cosmic process terminates,
Lord lapses into the Absolute and so does the freed individual. He knows as does the Lord that he is the manifestation the Absolute, even when he is functioning in the world.
नातः परं वेदितव्यं
च मत्वा सर्वम्
ब्रह्मम् एतत् 1.12
jńeyaṁ nityam evātmasaṁsthaṁ nātaḥ paraṁ
veditavyaṁ hi kińcit
bhoktā bhogyam preritāraṁ ca
matvā sarvam proktaṁ trividham brahmam etat Ś.Up. 1.12
1.12. That Eternal which rests in the self should be
known. Truly there is nothing
beyond this to
be known. By knowing the
enjoyer, the object of enjoyment and
everything has been said. This is the threefold
The individual soul, the object
prakṛti and the Supreme Lord Īśvara are all
forms of Brahman.
ātma-saṁstham: which rests in the self.
Śiva-dharmottara says: The
Yogins see the Lord in the self and not in images.
मूर्तिः न दृश्यते
नैव च लिङ्गनाशः
तद्वोभयं वै प्रणवेन
vahner yathā yonigatasya
na dṛśyate naiva ca liṅganāśaḥ
sa bhūya evendhanayonigṛhyas
tadvobhayaṁ vai praṇavena dehe
the form of fire when latent in its
source is not seen and yet its
seed is not destroyed, but may be seized
again and again in its source by means of
the drill, so it is in both cases, The self has to be seized in the body by means of the syllable aum.
Fire though not seen at
first is there
all the time; it becomes visible
by friction; even
so the Self is there all the time though unperceived by those in a state of ignorance. It is perceived when by meditation
on the syllable
aum, we subdue the lower self. The vision of the Self is achieved by means
of the praṇava,
indhana: the stick used for
yoni: the underwood in which
the stick is
sva-deham araṇiṁ kṛtvā
devam paśyen nigūḍhavat
1.14. By making one's body
the lower friction stick and the syllable
aum the upper friction stick, by practicing the drill (or friction) of meditation one may see the God, hidden as it were.
In overcoming the
obstacles which prevent the realization of Brahman on the
part of the individual, suffering
is involved. We are asked to meditate on
Godhead and bring
Him out of the recesses of our heart.
तैलं दधनीव सर्पिर्
गृह्यते ऽसौ सत्येनैनं
तपसा यो ऽनुपश्यति
tailaṁ dadhanīva sarpir āpaḥ srotassu araṇīṣu
evam ātmā ātmani gṛhyate
'sau satyenainaṁ tapasā yo 'nupaśyati Ś.Up.1.15
1.15. As oil in
sesamum seeds, as butter in cream, as water
in riverbeds as fire in friction sticks, so is the Self seized in one's own
soul if one looks for Him with
truthfulness and austerity.
srotas: river-bed. Usually a stream,
here the dry bed of a stream which, if dug into will yield water. .
tapasā: by austerity. The
divine in us becomes manifest only when we subject ourselves to discipline.
The divine operates in us but it requires effort
to make It shine forth. A later Upaniṣad
says that the Divine dwelling in us as ghee in milk but even as ghee is obtained after the process of churning.
the churning of the
necessary to reveal the inner splendor.
ātmānam kṣīre sarpir ivārpitam
brahmopaniṣat param, tad brahmopaniṣat param Ś.Up.
1.16. The Self which
pervades all things as butter is contained in milk which is the root of self-knowledge
and austerity. That
is the Brahman, the highest mystic doctrine.
That is the highest mystic doctrine.
brahmopaniṣat: the mystic doctrine of Brahman.
Like butter hidden
milk does the eternal
wisdom dwell in each and every object;
let there be constant churning
by the churning
stick of the mind.
men realize me
as present in all beings, as
latent fire is in wood, from that moment they discard confusion.
As fragrance is in the
flower, as butter in milk, as oil in sesamum seeds, as gold in the reef
(so God dwells in all objects).
INVOCATION TO SAVITṚ
prathamam manas tatvāya savitā dhiyaḥ
agner jyotir nicāyya pṛthivyā
2.1. Savitṛ (the inspirer)
first controlling mind and thought for truth discerned
the light of Agni (Fire) and brought it out of the earth.
The five introductory verses are taken from Taittirīya Saṁhitā
The Upanisads claim to continue
the tradition of the Vedas. It is an
in Indian thought to make out that
are only the developments of the old. Even the Buddha said that his teaching was
only a restatement of the
four ancient truths, Catvāri
ārya-satyāni. See Dhammapada, Introduction.
मनसा वयं देवस्य
yuktena manasā vayaṁ
devasya savituḥ save
suvargeyāya śaktyā 2.2.
2.2. With mind controlled we are under the
command of the divine Savitṛ that we
may have strength for (obtaining) heaven.
for (obtaining) heaven.
मनसा देवान् सुवर्यतो
devān suvaryato dhiyā divam
bṛhaj jyotiḥ kariṣyatas
savitā prasuvāti tān 2.3.
2.3. May Savitṛ,
having controlled through thought the gods that rise up to the bright heaven, inspire them
to make a
great light to shine.
मन उत युञ्जते
धियो विप्रा विप्रस्य
एक इन् मही देवस्य
सवितुः परिष्टुतिः 2.4
yuńjate mana uta yuńjate dhiyo viprā viprasya bṛhato
vi hotrā dadhe vayunāvid eka in
mahī devasya savituḥ pariṣṭutiḥ 2.4
2.4. The sages of the great all-knowing control their mind and control their thoughts. The one who knows the law has ordered the ceremonial
functions. Great is
the praise of the
and Comment By Dr. Radhakrishnan
and Transliteration by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
नमोभिर् वि श्लोक
एतु पथ्य् एव सूरेः
पुत्रा आ ये धामानि
दिवियानि तस्थुः 2.5
yuje vām brahma pūrvyam namobhir vi śloka
etu pathy eva sūreḥ
śṛṇvantu viśve amṛtasya
putrā ā ye dhāmāni diviyāni tasthuḥ 2.5
2.5. I join your ancient prayer with adoration. Let my verse
go forth like the path of the sun.
May all the sons of the Immortal
even those who have
their heavenly abodes.
putrāḥ: sons of the immortal.
Cp, 'Ye are all children of light and the
children of the
I Thessalonians V. 5; Hebrews III. 6.
agnir yatrābhimathyate vāyur
somo yatrātiricyate tatra saṁjāyate
2.6. Where the fire is kindled, where
soma flows over, there the mind is born.
Mind is born where the routine or automatism is broken.
कृणवसे न हि ते
savitrā prasavena juṣeta brahma pūrvyam
tatra yoniṁ kṛṇavase
na hi te pūrtam akṣipat 2.7
2.7. With Savitṛ as the inspirer, one should delight m the ancient prayer. Make your
there. Your work will not affect you.
स्थाप्य समं शरीरं
trirunnataṁ sthāpya samaṁ
śarīraṁ hṛdīndriyāṇi manasā saṁniveśya
vidvān srotāṁsi sarvāṇi bhayāvahāni
2.8. Holding the body steady with
neck and head) erect, causing the senses and the mind to enter into the heart, the
wise man should cross
by the boat
of Brahman all the streams
which cause fear.
See B.G. VI. 13.
v. saṁnirudhya. .
trīṇi: three, urogrīvaśirāṁsi,
chest, neck and head. S. At the time
of meditation we
must hold the trunk, the head and
the neck in a
straight line. The
theory of āsanas or postures is a development of this view. The control of the senses by means of mind answers to
the later pratyāhāra.
Body, mind and spirit form one
here what IS known as bodily prayer is mentioned.
Brahma: the syllable aum.
इव वाहम् एनं विद्वान्
मनो धारयेता प्रमत्तः
prāṇān prapīḍyeha saṁyukta-ceṣṭaḥ
kṣīne prāṇe nāsikayo' cchvasīta
iva vāham enaṁ vidvān mano dhārayetā pramattaḥ
the body). let him who
has controlled all movements, breathe through
his nostrils, with
diminished breath; let the wise
man restrain his mind vigilantly as (he
would) a chariot
yoked with vicious horses.
See B.G. V. 27. The verse refers to prāṇāyāma or breath-control.
न तु चक्षु-पीडने
mano'nukūle na tu cakṣu-pīḍane
guhā-nivātāśrayaṇe prayojayet 2.10
2.10. In a level clean place, free
from pebbles, fire and gravel, favorable to thought by
the sound of water and other features, not offensive to the eye, in
a hidden retreat
from the wind, Jet
him perform his exercises (let
See B.G. VI. II; Maitrī VI. 30.
The importance of physical surroundings is brought out here.
Kūma Purana mentions jantuvyāpta
and saśabda. as unfitting a place for meditation. 11. II; M.B. says -nirjane vane, XIV.
567; also nadípulinaśāyī, nadītīraratiś ca. XIII. 6473. The place
for meditation should be noiseless and not
is said to
be a mistake
a place green with young
purassarāṇi brahmaṇy abhivyaktikarāṇi yoge
2.11. Fog, smoke,
moon, these are the preliminary forms
the manifestation of Brahman in Yoga.
l We read in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra: 'In his exercise, the
Yogin sees (imaginatively) the
form of the
or the moon
or something looking
like a lotus,
or the underworld or various forms such as
the like. When all these are put aside and there is a state of imagelessness, then a condition in conformity with suchness (bhūta-tathatā) presents itself and the
Buddhas will come together from all their countries and
with their shining
bands will touch the head of the
appears a sign like that of a star, then gradually appear a diamond mirror, thereafter a full lunar circle, thereafter a circle of the lustre of the nine germs, thereafter the midday sun, thereafter a circle of flame, then a crystal, a black circle, a dot,
sound, digit, star, sun, lamp, eye, the lustre of gold and nine gems are seen.
l Mystics speak of visions and auditions. Truth is seen through the mirror of human reflection. The
man is limited by
the nature of its
the kind of
man he is.
thinks is the man, not the mind. Our senses make definite what is in its nature indefinite. We reduce the
invisible to our level. As we cannot for long dwell on the heights without suffering from vertigo,
to the sense world and use images belonging to it. Though God transcends all forms,
He may still use them and convey His
through them. These images are sent to comfort and instruct us.
l This verse makes out that the images are not the subjective activities of the human self. Besides, many of these visions have a symbolic character. The words and
phrases we use to describe impressions which external things make upon us are employed to describe the events of our
spiritual life. It is a process of spiritual materialization. Truths of the spiritual
life cannot be adequately represented except through symbols. Saint Hildegrand
visions and she repeatedly assures us: 'These visions which
neither in sleep nor in dream, nor in madness nor with my carnal eyes, nor with the ears of the flesh,
in hidden places; but wakeful, alert, with the
of the spirit and with the inward ears I perceived them in open view and
to the will of God.
this was compassed is hard indeed for human flesh to search out: Quoted in Studies in The History
by Charles Singer (1917), p. 53. Suso, Theresa, Muhammad and many others had these
न तस्य रोगो
न जरा न मृत्युः
pṛthvyaptejo'nilakhe samutthite pańcātmake
na tasya rogo na jarā na mṛtyuḥ
prāptasya yogāgni-mayaṁ śarīram --2.12
2.12. When the fivefold quality
of Yoga is
produced, as earth, water, fire, air and ether arise, then there is no longer sickness
no old age, no death to
him who has obtained a body made of the fire of Yoga.
This verse and the next emphasize the
physical aspects of Yoga. Through Yoga
we try to build up
a healthy and clean body. We attempt to make
the very substance
of our body incorruptible. Four stages
of yoga, ārambha, ghaṭa, paricaya and
described m verses
13, 14, 15 and 16
respectively. In securing bodily health we
have the commencement of the yoga, yoga-pravṛtti. In attaining freedom from sorrow we reach
the second stage.
In the third stage traces of duality disappear, mahā-sūnyaṁ tato bhāti
sarva-samāśrayam. In the fourth stage there
is the identity of
the individual with the Supreme
Self. The Yogin does not
become disembodied. The elements
composing his body are
elevated to the level of their subtleness,
sukṣmatva. He leaves his gross body and attains an indefectible
one. It is a
consciousness-body akin to that of the Supreme with whom the contemplator has Identified himself through meditation.
ārogyam alolupatvam varṇa-prasādaṁ svara-sauṣṭhavaṁ
gandhas śubho mūtrapurīṣam
alpaṁ yoga-pravṛttim prathamāṁ vadanti --2.13
2.13· Lightness, healthiness, steadiness clearness of complexion, pleasantness
of voice, sweetness of odor, and slight excretions, these, they say, are the
first results of the progress of yoga.
THE VISION OF GOD
भ्राजते तत् सुधान्तम्
देही एकः कृतार्थो
yathaiva bimbaṁ mṛdayo' paliptaṁ
tejomayam bhrājate tat sudhāntam
tad vātmatattvam prasamīkṣya
dehī ekaḥ kṛtārtho bhavate vīta-śokaḥ
2.14· Even as
a mirror stained by dust shines brightly when
it has been cleaned, so the embodied
one when he has seen the (real) nature of the Self becomes integrated, of fulfilled purpose and freed
tu brahma-tattvaṁ dīpopamene'ha yuktaḥ prapaśyet
ajaṁ dhruvaṁ sarva-tattvair
viśuddhaṁ jńātvā devam mucyate sarva-pāśaiḥ
2.15· When by means of the (real) nature
of his self he sees as by a lamp here the
nature of Brahman. by knowing
God who is unborn, steadfast, free from all natures; he is released from
THE IMMANENCE OF GOD
एष ह देवः
प्रदिशो ऽनु सर्वाः
पूर्वो ह जातः
स उ गर्भे अन्तः
स एव जातः
तिष्ठति सर्वतो-मुखः 2.16
eṣa ha devaḥ pradiśo
'nu sarvāḥ pūrvo ha jātaḥ sa u garbhe antaḥ
sa eva jātaḥ sa janiṣyamāṇaḥ
pratyaṅ janāṁs tiṣṭhati sarvato-mukhaḥ
2.16. He, indeed, is the God
who pervades all regions, He is the first-born
and he is within the womb. He has been born and
he will be
born. He stands opposite
all persons, having his face in all directions.
See Vājasaneyi Saṁhitā, 32. 4· .
pūrvo hi jātaḥ: is the first born as Hiraṇya-garbha.
yo devo agnau yo apsu yo viśvam bhuvanam
ya oṣadhīṣu yo
vanaspatīṣu tasmai devāya namo namaḥ --2.17
2.17. The God who is in fire, who is in water, who has
the whole world (the God), who is in
is in trees, to that God
be adoration, yea, be
THE HIGHEST REALITY
य एको जालवान्
ईशत ईशनीभिः सर्वान्
लोकान् ईशत ईशनीभिः
य एवैक उद्भवे
संभवे च य एतद्
ते भवन्ति 3.1
ya eko jālavān īśata
īśanībhiḥ sarvān lokān īśata
ya evaika udbhave saṁbhave ca ya
etad vidur amṛtās te bhavanti—3.1
3.I. The one who spreads
the net, who rules with his ruling powers,
all the worlds with his ruling powers, who remains one
(identical), while (things or works) arise and continue
to exist, they
who know that
jālavān: who spreads the net. Ś identifies jāla or net with māyā.
एको हि रुद्रो
न द्वितीयाय तस्थुर्
य इमान् लोकान्
भुवनानि गोपाः 3.2
eko hi rudro na dvitīyāya tasthur ya imān
lokān īśata īśanībhiḥ
pratyaṅ janān tiṣṭhati
saṁcukocānta-kāle saṁsṛjya viśvā
bhuvanāni gopāḥ --3.2
3.2. Truly Rudra is one, there is no place
for a second, who rules all these worlds
with his ruling powers. He
stands opposite creatures. He, the protector, after creating all worlds, withdraws them
at the end of time.
l The Highest Reality is identified with Rudra who is assigned the three
functions of creation, protection or maintenance and dissolution.
l In RV. Rudra is the personification of the destructive powers
of nature, exemplified in storms and lightning. In the later portions of the Veda he is described as Śiva, the auspicious, as Mahādeva, the great god. Even in the R.V. it is said that
he dwells in mountains, that he has braided
hair, that he wears a hide.
l pratyan: opposite. He lives as pratyag-ātman.
चक्षुर् उत विश्वतो
बाहुर् उत विश्वतस्-पात्
देव एकः 3.3
viśvataś cakṣur uta viśvato mukho
viśvato bāhur uta viśvatas-pāt /
sam bāhubhyāṁ dhamati
sampatatrair dyāvā-bhūmī janayan deva ekaḥ-- 3.3
3.3. That one God who has an eye
on every side, a face on every side, an arm on
every side, a foot on every side, creating heaven and earth forges them
together by his arms and his wings.
Ś means by it samyojayati, he joins men with arms and birds with wings.
bāhubhyām: with arms. As it is in the dual number,
Saṁkarānanda takes it
for dharma and adharma.
patatraiḥ: with wings. Saṁkarānanda
means by it the five chief elements.
स नो बुद्ध्या
yo devānāṁ prabhavaś codbhavaś
ca viśvādhipo rudro maharṣiḥ
janayāmāsa pūrvaṁ sa no buddhyā śubhayā
3.4 He who is the source and
origin of the gods, the
ruler of all, Rudra, the great seer, who of
old gave birth to the golden
germ (Hiraṇya-garbha), may He endow us with clear understanding.
See IV. 12
Hiraṇya-garbha is the person
endowed with clear Ideas.
In verse 3. the stress is on the cosmic
form Virāt Svarūpa; here on the cosmic spirit, the
PRAYERS TO RUDRA
या ते रुद्र
शिवा तनूर् अघोरापापकाशिनी
yā te rudra śivā tanūr
tayā nas tanuvā
śantamayā giriśantābhicākaśīhi –3.5
3.5. Rudra, your body which is auspicious,
unterrifying, showing no evil―with
that most benign body, O dweller in the mountains, look upon (manifest yourself to) us.
For this and the
following verse, see Vājasaneyi Saṁhitā XVI.2-3.
auspicious body: this is not identical with his
absolute reality. It IS analogous to
the Buddhist dhamakāya.
गिरित्र तां कुरु
मा हिंसीः पुरुषं
giriśanta haste bibharṣy astave
śivāṁ giritra tāṁ
kuru mā hiṁsīḥ puruṣaṁ jagat—3.6
Dweller among the mountains, make auspicious the arrow
which thou holdest in thy hand to throw. O Protector of the
not man or beast.
puruṣam asmadīyam jagad api kṛtsnam. S. the human and the other than human.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUPREME AS THE WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE
ब्रह्म परम् बृहन्तम्
ईशं तं ज्ञात्वामृता
tataḥ param brahma param bṛhantam
yathā-nikāyaṁ sarva-bhūteṣu gūḍham
viśvasy aikaṁ pariveṣṭitāram
īśaṁ taṁ jńātvāmṛtā bhavanti—3.7
Higher than this is Brahman, the supreme, the
great hidden in
all creatures according to their bodies,
the one who envelopes the universe, knowing Him, the Lord, (men) become immortal.
param: higher than this. This may refer to the Vedic God Rudra or the manifested
world. The reference
here is to Īśvara who is higher than Hiraṇya-garbha and Virāṭ-rūpa to the
antaryāmin, to the Supreme Personal
तम् एव विदित्वा
एति नान्यः पन्था
विद्यतेऽ यनाय 3.8
vedāham etam puruśam mahāntam āditya-varṇaṁ
tam eva viditvā atimṛtyum eti
nānyaḥ panthā vidyate' yanāya—3.8
3.8. I know the
Supreme Person of sunlike color (luster) beyond the darkness. Only
by knowing Him does one pass over death. There is no other path for going there.
See VI. 15; B.G. VIII.
panthā: no other path. Panthā, the way, the path; panthikṛt
= the road-maker.
ayanāya: for going (to salvation).
The sage Śvetāśvatara
says that he has seen the Supreme who dwells beyond all darkness, that he has crossed the world of samsara.
परं नापरम् अस्ति
नाणीयो न ज्यायोऽस्ति
इव स्तब्धो दिवि
पुरुषेण सर्वम् 3.9
paraṁ nāparam asti kińcid yasmān nāṇīyo na
jyāyo 'sti kińcit /
vṛkṣa iva stabdho divi tiṣṭhaty
ekas tene'dam pūrṇaṁ puruṣeṇa sarvam--3.9
Than whom there is naught else higher, than whom there is naught smaller, naught greater, (the) one stands like a
tree established in heaven, by Him, the Person, is this whole universe
divi: in heaven, dyotanātmani sve mahimni, S; established in his own
य एतद् विदुर्
अमृतास् ते भवन्ति,
tato yad uttarataraṁ yad arūpam anāmayam
ya etad vidur amṛtās te
bhavanti, athetare duḥkham evāpiyanti—3.10
3.10. That which is beyond this world is without form and without suffering. Those who know that
become immortal, but others go
THE COSMIC PERSON
स भगवान् तस्मात्
सर्व-गतस् शिवः 3.11
sarva-vyāpī sa bhagavān
tasmāt sarva-gatas śivaḥ--3.11
3.11. .He who is in the faces,
heads and necks
of all, who dwells in the cave (of the heart) of all beings, who is all-pervading, He
is the Lord and therefore the
See R.V. X. 81. 3: X. 90. I.
S explains Bhagavat
by citing the verse in translation:
He who has the six qualities of complete lordship, righteousness,
fame, prosperity, wisdom and renunciation
वै पुरुषः सत्त्वस्यैष
mahān prabhur vai puruṣaḥ sattvasyaiṣa
sunirmalām imām prāptim
īśāno jyotir avyayaḥ--3.12
3.12. That person indeed
is the great Lord, the impeller of the highest being. (He has the power of) reaching the purest
ruler, the imperishable light.
sattva: highest being. For S the internal organ, antaḥ-karaṇa.
सदा जनानां हृदये
य एतद् विदुर्
अमृतास् ते भवन्ति 3.13
sadā janānāṁ hṛdaye sanniviṣṭaḥ
manasābhikḷpto ya etad vidur amṛtās te bhavanti—3.13
3.13. A person of the measure of a thumb is the inner self, ever dwelling in the heart of men. He is the lord of the knowledge
the heart and the mind. They who know that become immortal.
manvīso: the lord of knowledge. jńāneśaḥ. S. v. manīṣā,,
This reading hṛdāmanīṣā manasābhikḷpto is adopted by Saṁkarānanda,
Nārāyaṇa and Vijńāna-bhikṣu.
sa bhūmiṁ viśvato vṛtvā
aty atiṣṭhad daśāṅgulam—3.14
3.14. The person has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. He surrounds the earth on all sides and stands ten fingers' breadth beyond.
See R.V. X. 90. I.
daśāṅgulam: ten fingers' breadth. anantam, apāram. S. endless
shoreless. Though the Supreme manifests Himself in the cosmos He
also transcends It.
सर्वम् यद् भूतं
यच् च भव्यम्
यद् अन्नेनातिरोहति 3.15
puruṣa evedaṁ sarvam yad bhūtaṁ
yac ca bhavyam
3.15· The person
is truly his whole world,
been and whatever will be. He is also the lord of immortality
and whatever grows up by food.
See R.V. X. 90. 2.
he is the lord of all the
immortals, i.e. the gods, because
they grew to their high estate by means of food.
लोके सर्वम् आवृत्य
sarvataḥ pāṇi-pādaṁ tat sarvato'kṣi-śiro-mukham
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke
sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati—3.16
3.16. On every side it has a hand and
a foot, on every side an eye, a head and a face. It has an ear everywhere. It stands
encompassing all in the world.
See B.G. XIII. I3.
sarvasya prabhum īśānaṁ
sarvasya śaraṇaṁ bṛhat.—3.17
3.17· Reflecting the qualities of all the senses and yet devoid of all the senses, It is the lord and ruler, it is the great refuge of all. Refer to B.G.VIII.14.
पुरे देही हंसो
चरस्य च. 3.18
nava-dvāre pure dehī haṁso
vaśī sarvasya lokasya
sthāvarasya carasya ca.—3.18
3.18. The embodied soul
in the city
of nine gates sports [moving to and
fro) in the outside (world), the controller of the whole world, of the stationary and the moving.
See Katha, V. I; B.G. V. I3.
haṁsa; soul. It is the Universal Spirit.
अचक्षुः स शृणोत्य्
वेद्यं न च तस्यास्ति
पुरुषम् महान्तम्. 3.19
grahītā paśyaty acakṣuḥ sa śṛṇoty
sa vetti vedyaṁ na ca
tasyāsti vettā, tam āhur agryaṁ puruṣam
3.19. Without foot
or hand, (yet) swift and grasping,
he sees without eye, he hears without
He knows whatever is to be
known; of him there is none who knows. They call him the Primeval, the Supreme Person.
महिमानम् ईशम्. 3.20
aṇor aṇīyān mahato
mahīyān ātmā guhāyāṁ nihito'sya jantoḥ
tam akratum paśyati vīta-śoko
prasādān mahimānam īśam.—3.20
3.20. Subtler than the subtle, greater than the great is
Self that is set in the cave of the (heart) of the creature. One beholds Him as being
freed from sorrow, when through the
grace of the
sees the Lord
and His majesty.
See Taittirīya Āraṇyaka X.
akratum: being actionless. viṣaya-bhoga-saṁkalpa-rahitam.S.
prasādāt: through the grace of the Creator.
prasādāt: through the clarity
born of sense-control. Sense organs are said
to be dhātu.
एतम् अजरम् पुराणं
दन्ति नित्यम्. 3.21
vedāham etam ajaram purāṇaṁ
sarvātmānaṁ sarva-gataṁ vibhutvāt
janma-nirodham pravadanty yasya
3.21. I know this undecaying,
ancient (primeval) Self of all, present in everything on account of infinity. Of whom they declare, there is stoppage of
birth. The expounders of Brahman proclaim
Him to be eternal.
janma-nirodham: stoppage of birth.
For whom the
are birth and death.
suggests a reading,janma-nirodham na vadanti
yasya. For whom birth and
death are not spoken.
Sometimes it is used for the creation and destruction of the world.
makes out that the Impersonal that the Personal Brahman and Īśvara are not two different entities but the same in two aspects.
THE ONE GOD OF THE MANIFOLD WORLD
आदौ स देवः स नो
eko'varṇo bahudhā śakti-yogād varṇān
anekān nihitārtho dadhāti
vicaiti cā'nte viśvam ādau sa
devaḥ sa no buddhyā śubhayā samyunaktu—4.1
4.1. He who is one, without
any color, by the manifold exercise of his power distributes many colors in his hidden purpose and into whom in the beginning and
at the end the universe is gathered, may He endow us with a clear under standing.
avaraṇaḥ: devoid of determinations, nirviśeṣaḥ .S.
in his hidden purpose. Without any motive
or personal interest.
ante: in the end. V. śānte. The world was inactive, unmanifest before creation.
तद् वायुस् तद्
तद् एव शुक्रं
तद् ब्रह्म तद्
आपस् तत् प्रजापतिः 4.2
tad ādityas tad vāyus tad u candramāḥ
tad eva śukraṁ tad brahma tad
āpas tat prajāpatiḥ--4.2
4.2. That indeed is Agni (fire),
that is Ᾱditya
(the sun), that is Vāyu (the wind) and that is the moon. That, indeed, is the pure. That is Brahmā. That is the
waters. That is Prajā-pati (the lord of creation).
See Vājasaneyi Saṁhitā, XXXII. I.
This verse occurs in Mahānārāyaṇa U.
verse indicates that the different
Vedic gods are not
independent but are forms of the One Supreme.
self-nature. ātma-tattvam. S.
alternatively the starry firmament.
S makes Brahma, Hiraṇya-garbhātmā and Prajā-pati
makes out that the Supreme through the power of māyā created the manifestations
and entered into them and is called by their names.
असि त्वं कुमार
उत वा कुमारी
त्वं जातो भवसि
tvaṁ strī tvam pumān asi tvaṁ
kumāra uta vā kumārī
tvaṁ jīrṇo daṇḍena
vańcasi tvaṁ jāto bhavasi viśvatomukhaḥ--4.3
4.3. You are woman. You are man. You are the
youth and the maiden too. You, as an old man,
with a staff.
Being born you become
facing in every direction.
वर्तसे यतो जातानि
nīlaḥ pataṅgo harito lohitākṣas
taḍid-garbha ṛtavaḥ samudrāḥ /
anādimat tvaṁ vibhutvena vartase
yato jātāni bhuvanāni viśvā.—4.4
4.4. You are the dark-blue bird; you are the green (parrot) with red eyes. You are (the cloud) with
the lightning in
its womb. You are the seasons and the seas. Having no
abide through omnipresence. (You) from whom all worlds are born.
Patańgaḥ = bird. Brahmaraḥ
= bee. Ś
THE UNIVERSAL SELF AND THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL
ajām ekāṁ lohita-śukla-kṛṣṇāṁ
bahvīḥ prajāḥ sṛjamānāṁ
ajo hy eko juṣamāṇo'nuśete
jahāty enāṁ bhukta-bhogām ajo'nyaḥ--4.5
4.5. The One unborn,
who produces manifold offspring
similar in form (to herself),
there lies the
one unborn (male) delighting. Another unborn gives her up, having had his enjoyment.
Red, white and black =
is either to fire (tajas),
water (ap), and earth (anna), or the
three guṇas, rajas, sattva, and tamas
of prakṛti. Rajas = passion. Sattva = virtue. Tamas =
The one she-goat, red, white and black in time produces many young
For the red, white, and black colors: where
everything in the universe is said to
be connected with the three elements, the
red of fire, the white of water, the black of food or of earth. It is the order of creation when
first produced heat, then water,
then earth in the shape of food. The
first unborn is he who is ignorant and therefore subject
to the influence of prakṛti. The second unborn is he who has overcome his ignorance and is therefore
free from bondage to prakṛti.
सयुजा सखाया समानं
dvā suparṇā sayujā
sakhāyā samānaṁ vṛkṣam pariṣasvajāte
tayor anyaḥ pippalaṁ svādv
atty anaśnann anyo'bhicākaśīti
4.6. Two birds companions (who are) always
united, cling to the self-same tree. Of these two the one eats the sweet fruit, and the other looks on without eating.
Our being in time is an encounter of empirical existence and
The eternal in itself and the eternal in the empirical flux
are companions. The world is the meeting-point of that which is eternal
and that which
is manifested in time. Man as an object of necessity, a content of scientific
knowledge, is different from man
अन्यम् ईशम् अस्य
samāne vṛkṣe puruṣo nimagno'nīśayā
juṣṭam yadā paśyaty
anyam īśam asya mahimānam iti vīta-śokaḥ--4.7
4.7. On the sell-same tree, a person immersed (in the
sorrows of the world) is deluded and grieves on account of his helplessness. When he sees
Other, the Lord who is worshipped and His greatness, he becomes freed from sorrow.
M.U. III. I. 2. In verse 6, the cause of sorrow is traced to the sense of helplessness induced
in us when we are lost in the objective universe: in verse 7
freedom from sorrow is traced
to our getting
beyond object-thinking into
अधि विश्वे निषेधुः
तं न वेद किं ऋचा
करिष्यति य इत्
तद् विदुस् त इमे
parame vyoman yasmin devā adhi viśve niṣedhuḥ
yas taṁ na veda kiṁ ṛcā
kariṣyati ya it tad vidus ta ime samāsate—4.8
4.8. For him
who does not know that indestructible being of the Ṛg Veda,
whereon in the highest heaven all the gods
reside, of what avail is the
Ṛg Veda to him? They, indeed, who know that rest fulfilled.
R.V. I. I64· 39; Taittirīya Āraṇyaka II. II. 6. The Vedas
are intended to lead to the realization
of the Supreme. For those who study them without
undergoing the inward
discipline, they are not of much use.
यच् च वेदा वदन्ति
मायी सृजते विश्वम्
yajńāḥ kratavo vratāni, bhūtam bhavyam yac ca
asmān māyī sṛjate
viśvam etat tasmiṁs cānyo māyayā saṁniruddhaḥ--4.9
4.9. The Vedas, the sacrifices, the rituals, the observances,
the past, the future and
what the Vedas declare, all this the maker
sends forth out
of this, in this the other is confined by
the other: the individual soul. The whole world proceeds from
the imperishable Brahman. The actual creator
is Īśvara, the Personal God, who
is acting through his power of māyā,
तु व्याप्तं सर्वम्
इदं जगत् 4.10
māyāṁ tu prakṛtiṁ vidhi,
māyinaṁ tu maheśvaram
tasyāvayava-bhūtais tu vyāptaṁ
sarvam idaṁ jagat—4.10
4.10. Know then that prakṛti is māyā and the wielder of māyā is the Great Lord. This whole world is pervaded by beings that are parts of Him.
identified with the māyā of the Vedānta. The Upaniṣad attempts to reconcile the views of the Sāṁkhya and the Vedānta.
Īśvara and Śakti are regarded as the parents of the universe. Cp. the following verses:-