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(Vehicles of Inner Knowledge)
Gems of Wisdom

The Isha Upanishad (Ishopanishad)

"If all the Upanishads and all the other Scriptures happened all of a sudden to be reduced to ashes, and if only the first verse in the Ishopanishad were left in the memory of the Hindus, Hinduism would live forever" -- Mahatma Gandhi

Eknath Easwaran Translation
("The Inner Ruler")

All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains.

O M shanti shanti shanti

1. The Lord is enshrined in the hearts of all.
The Lord is the supreme Reality.
Rejoice in him through renunciation.
Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord.
2. Thus working may you live a hundred years.
Thus alone will you work.

Those who deny the Self are born again
Blind to the Self, enveloped in darkness,
Utterly devoid of love for the Lord.

4. The Self is one. Ever still, the Self is
Swifter than thought, swifter than the senses.
Though motionless, he outruns all pursuit.
Without the Self, never could life exist.

5. The Self seems to move, but is ever still.
He seems far away, but is ever near.
He is within all, and he transcends all.

6. Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no fear.
7. Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no grief.
How can the multiplicity of life
Delude the one who sees its unity?

8. The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self,
Indivisible, untouched by sin, wise,
Immanent and transcendent. He it is
Who holds the cosmos together.

9-11. In dark night live those for whom
The world without alone is real; in night
Darker still, for whom the world within
Alone is real. The first leads to a life
Of action, the second to a life of meditation.
But those who combine action with meditation
Cross the sea of death through action
And enter into immortality
Through the practice of meditation.
So have we heard from the wise.

12-14. In dark night live those for whom the Lord
Is transcendent only; in darker still,
For whom he is immanent only.
But those for whom he is transcendent
And immanent cross the sea of death
With the immanent and enter into
Immortality with the transcendent.
So have we heard from the wise.

15. The face of truth is hidden by your orb
Of gold, O sun. May you remove your orb
So that I, who adore the true, may see
16. The glory of truth. O nourishing sun,
Solitary traveler, controller,
Source of life for all creatures, spread your light
And subdue your dazzling splendor
So that I may see your blessed Self.
Even that very Self am I!

17. May my life merge in the Immortal
When my body is reduced to ashes.
O mind, meditate on the eternal Brahman.
Remember the deeds of the past.
Remember, O mind, remember.

18. O god of fire, lead us by the good path
To eternal joy. You know all our deeds.
Deliver us from evil, we who bow
And pray again and again.
O M shanti shanti shanti



R. C. Zaehner Translation
("The Lord - Transcendent Without, Immanent Within")

"None hath attained to thy sovereignty and power, None to thine undaunted spirit,--none."

1. This whole universe must be pervaded by a Lord
--Whatever moves in this moving world.
Abandon it, and then enjoy:
Covet not the goods of anyone at all.

2. Performing ritual works on earth a man
May wish to live a hundred years:
This, not otherwise, is true for thee;
A man is not defiled by works.

3. Some worlds there are called "devilish"
In blind darkness swathed:
To these at death such folk pass on
As seek to slay the (Higher) Self.

4. Unmoving--One--swifter than thought (manas),--
The gods could not seize hold of It as it sped before (them):
Standing, It overtakes (all) others as they run;
In It the wind incites activity.

5. It moves. It moves not.
It is far, yet It is near:
It is within this whole universe,
And yet It is without it.

6. Those who see all beings in the Self,
And the Self in all beings
Will never shrink from It.

7. When once one understands that in oneself
(Of) the greater Self become all beings,
When once one has seen the unity,
What room is there for sorrow?
What room for perplexity?

8. He, the wise Sage, all-conquering, self-existent,
Encompassed that which is resplendent,
Incorporeal, invulnerable,
Devoid of sinews, pure, unpierced by evil:
(All) things He ordered each according to its nature
For years unending.

9. Blind darkness enter they
Who revere only the transcendent (or unrevealed):
Into a darkness blinder yet
(Go they) who delight only in the immanent (or revealed).

10. Other, they say, than what becomes,
Other, they say, than what does not become:
So from wise men have we heard
Who instructed us therein.

11. Coming to be and perishing,--
Who knows these both together,
By "perishing" surpasses death,
By "coming to be" wins deathlessness.

12. Blind darkness enter they
Who reverence unwisdom:
Into a darkness blinder yet
(Go they) who delight in wisdom.

13. Other, they say, than wisdom,
Other than unwisdom (too), they say:
So from wise men have we heard
Who instructed us therein.

14. Wisdom and unwisdom--
Who knows these both together,
By "unwisdom" surpasses death,
By "wisdom" reaches deathlessness.

15. Wind and immortal breath,
And then this body whose end is in ashes:
Om, O mind remember; what's done remember;
O mind remember; what's done remember.

16. Lead us, O god of fire, along fair paths to riches,
Thou who knowest every way;
Repel from us the fault that leads astray.
May we compile for thee a most fulsome hymn of homage.

17. The face of truth is hidden
By the golden vessel (of the sun):
That person yonder (hidden) in the sun,
I in truth am He.

18. O Lord of the Path, single seer, O god of death, O sun, born of the Lord of Creations,
Display thy rays, diffuse thy light;
That form of thine which is most fair I see:
That Person yonder, (hidden), I am He.


The Kena Upanishad (Kenopanishad)

Sri Aurobindo Translation
("By Whom or by What?")

First Part

1. By whom commissioned falls the (arrow of the) mind shot to its mark? By whom yoked moves the first life-breath forward on its paths? By whom impelled is this word that men speak? What god set eye and ear to their workings?

2. THAT which is hearing of our hearing, mind of our mind, speech of our speech, THAT too is life of our lifebreath and sight of our sight. The wise are released beyond and they pass from this world and become immortal.

3. There sight travels not, nor speech, nor the mind. We know It not nor can distinguish how one should teach of It: for It is other than the known; It is there above the unknown. It is as we have heard from men of old who declared THAT to our understanding.

4. THAT which is unexpressed by the word, THAT by which the word is expressed, know THAT to be the Brahman--the great Ultimate Reality--and not this which men follow after here.

5. THAT which thinks not by the mind, THAT by which the mind is thought, know THAT to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

6. THAT which sees not with the eye, THAT by which one sees the eye's seeings, know THAT to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

7. THAT which hears not with the ear, THAT by which the ear's hearing is heard, know THAT to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

8. THAT which breaths not with the breath, THAT by which the life-breath is led forward in its paths, know THAT to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.

Second Part

1. If thou thinkest that thou knowest It well, little indeed dost thou know the form of the Brahman. That of It which is thou, that of It which is in the gods, this thou hast to think out. I think It known.

2. I think not that I know It well and yet I know that It is not unknown to me. He is of us who knows It, knows THAT; he knows that It is not unknown to him.

3. He by whom It is not thought out, has the thought of It; he by whom It is thought out, knows it not. It is unknown to the discernment of those who discern of It; by those who seek not to discern of It, It is discerned.

4. When It is known by perception that reflects It, then one has the thought of It, for one finds immortality; by the self one finds the force to attain and by the knowledge one finds immortality.

5. If here one comes to that knowledge, then one truly is; if here one comes not to the knowledge, then great is the perdition. The wise distinguish THAT in all kinds of becomings and they pass forward from this world and become immortal.

Third Part

1. The Eternal conquered for the gods and in the victory of the Eternal the gods grew to greatness. (This is what they saw--in their illusion of self-sufficiency): "Ours the victory, ours the greatness."

2. The Eternal knew their thought and appeared before them; and they knew not what was this mighty Daemon.

3. They said to Agni--the god of material fire and knower of form, "O thou that knowest all things born, learn of this thing, what may be this mighty Daemon," and he said, "So be it."

4. He rushed toward the Eternal and It said to him, "Who art thou?" "I am Agni," he said, "I am he that knows all things born."

5. "Since such thou art, what is the force in thee?" (He replied), "Even all this I could burn, all that is upon the earth."

6. The Eternal set before him a blade of grass, "This burn." And he made toward it with all his speed, but he could not burn it. There he ceased, and turned back, (saying): "I could not know of It, what might be this mighty Daemon."

7. Then they said to Vayu, the god of the life-breath and the knower of growth and vitality, "O Vayu, this discern, what is this mighty Daemon." He said, "So be it."

8. He rushed upon THAT; It said to him, "Who art thou?" "I am Vayu," he said, "and I am he that expands in the Mother of things."

"Since such thou art, what is the force in thee?" And he replied: "Even all this I can take for myself, all this that is upon the earth."

10. THAT set before him a blade of grass, "This take." He went toward it with all his speed and he could not take it. Even there he ceased, even thence he returned, (saying): "l could not discern of THAT, this mighty Daemon."

11. Then they said to Indra, the god of divine mind and the knower of thought forms, "Master of plenitudes, get thou the knowledge, what is this mighty Daemon." He said, "So be it." He rushed upon THAT. THAT vanished from before him.

12. He, (Indra), in the same ether came upon the Woman--the Mother Space, the Celestial Virgin--even upon Her who shines out in many forms, Uma daughter of the snowy summits. To Her he said, "What was this mighty Daemon?"

Fourth Part

1. She said to him, "It is the Eternal. Of the Eternal is this victory in which you shall grow to greatness." Then alone he came to know that this was the Brahman, the Ultimate Reality.

2. Therefore are these gods, as it were, beyond all the other gods, even Agni and Vayu and Indra, because they came nearest to the touch of THAT . . .

3. Therefore is Indra, as it were, beyond all the other gods because he came nearest to the touch of THAT, because he first knew that It was the Brahman.

4. Now this is the indication of THAT,--as is this flash of lightning upon us or as is this falling of the eyelid, so in that which is of the gods.

5. Then in that which is of the Self,--as the motion of this mind seems to attain to THAT and by it afterward the will in the thought continually remembers It.

6. The name of THAT is "That Delight"; as That Delight, one should follow after It. He who so knows THAT, toward him verily all existences yearn.

7. Thou hast said, "Speak to me Upanishad--the Inner Knowledge." Spoken to thee is Inner Knowledge. Of the Eternal verily is the Upanishad that we have spoken.

8. Of this knowledge austerity and self-conquest and works are the foundation, the Vedas--the books of knowledge--are all its limbs, truth is its dwelling place.

9. He who knows this knowledge smites evil away from him, and in that vaster world and infinite heaven finds his foundation, yea, he finds his foundation.


Eknath Easwaran Translation
("Who Moves the World?")



1. The student inquires:
"Who makes my mind think?
Who fills my body with vitality?
Who causes my tongue to speak? Who is that
Invisible one who sees through my eyes
And hears through my ears?"

2. The teacher replies:
"The Self is the ear of the ear,
The eye of the eye, the mind of the mind,
The word of words, and the life of life.
Rising above the senses and the mind
And renouncing separate existence,
The wise realize the deathless Self.

3. "Him our eyes cannot see, nor words express;
He cannot be grasped even by the mind.
We do not know, we cannot understand,
4. Because he is different from the known
And he is different from the unknown.
Thus have we heard from the illumined ones.

5. "That which makes the tongue speak but cannot be
Spoken by the tongue, know that as the Self.
This Self is not someone other than you.

6. "That which makes the mind think but cannot be
Thought by the mind, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

7. "That which makes the eye see but cannot be
Seen by the eye, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

8. "That which makes the ear hear but cannot be
Heard by the ear, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

9. "That which makes you draw breath but cannot be
Drawn by your breath, that is the Self indeed.
This self is not someone other than you."



1. If you think, "I know the Self," you know not.
All you can see is his external form.
Continue, therefore, your meditation.


2. I do not think I know the Self, nor can
I say I know him not.


There is only one way to know the Self,
And that is to realize him yourself.

3. The ignorant think the Self can be known
By the intellect, but the illumined
Know he is beyond the duality
Of the knower and the known.

4. The Self is realized in a higher state
Of consciousness when you have broken through
The wrong identification that you are
The body, subject to birth and death.
To be the Self is to go beyond death.

5. Realize the Self, the shining goal of life!
If you do not, there is only darkness.
See the Self in all, and go beyond death.


1. Once upon a time the gods defeated
The demons; and though the victory
Was brought about through the power of Brahman,
The gods boasted, "Ours is the victory,
And ours the power and glory."

2. Brahman saw their foolish pride and appeared
Before them. But they recognized him not.
3. They said to Agni, God of fire, "Find out
Who this mysterious being is." "I will,"
4. Promised Agni and approached the being.

"Who are you?" asked the mysterious one.
"I am Agni, god of fire, known to all."
5. "Are you powerful?" "I can burn all on earth."
6. "Burn this": and Brahman placed a straw in front.
The god of fire attacked the straw, but failed
To burn it. Then he ran back to the gods
And confessed, "I have failed to discover
Who this mysterious being is."

7. They said to Vayu, god of air, "Find out
Who this mysterious being is." "I will,"
8. Promised Vayu and approached the being.
"Who are you?" asked the mysterious being.
"I am Vayu, god of air, king of space."
9. "Are you powerful?" "I can blow all away."
10. "Blow this away." Brahman placed a straw in front.
The god of air attacked the straw, but failed
To move it. Then he ran back to the gods
And confessed, "I have failed to discover
Who this mysterious being is."

11. They begged Indra, leader of gods, "Find out
Who this mysterious being is." "I will,"
Promised Indra and approached the being,
12. Who disappeared instantly. In his place
Appeared the lovely goddess of wisdom,
Uma, daughter of the Himalayas;
And Indra asked her, "Who was that being?"


1. Uma replied, "That was Brahman, from whom
Comes all your power and glory." The gods
Realized at last (that) the Self is Brahman.
2-3. Agni, Vayu, Indra--these three excel
Among the gods because they realized Brahman.

4. The light of Brahman flashes in lightning,
The light of Brahman flashes in our eyes.
5. It is the power of Brahman that makes
6. The mind to think, desire, and will. Therefore
Use this power to meditate on Brahman.

He is the innermost Self of everyone;
He alone is worthy of all our love.
Meditate upon him in all. Those who
Meditate upon him are dear to all.


7. Teach me more of this spiritual wisdom.


I shall share with you fully what I know.
8. Meditation, control of the senses
And passions, and selfless service of all
Are the body, the Scriptures are the limbs,
And truth is the heart of this wisdom.

9. Those who realize Brahman shall conquer
All evil and attain the supreme state.
Truly they shall attain the supreme state!

O M shanti shanti shanti



R. C. Zaehner Translation
("By Whom Sent Forth, By Whom Impelled?")


1. By whom sent forth, [by whom] impelled soars forth the mind? By whom enjoined does the breath go forth, the first?
By whom impelled do men make loud this utterance?
Eye--ear: what god enjoins them?

2. Ear of the ear, mind of the mind,
Voice of the voice, He too is the breath of breath,
Eye of the eye: transcending [all] the wise,
Departing from this world, become immortal.

3. There no eye can penetrate,
No voice, no mind can penetrate:
We do not know, we do not understand
How one should teach it.

Other it is, for sure, than what is known,
Beyond [the scope of] the unknown too.
So have we heard from men of old who instructed us therein.

4. That which cannot be expressed by speech,
By which speech [itself] is uttered,
That is Brahman--know thou [this]--
Not that which is honored here as such.

5. That which thinks not by the mind,
By which, they say, the mind is thought,
That is Brahman--know thou [this]--
Not that which is honored here as such.

6. That which sees not by the eye,
By which the eyes have sight,
That is Brahman--know thou [this]--
Not that which is honored here as such.

7. That which hears not by the ear,
By which this ear is heard,
That is Brahman--know thou [this]--
Not that which is honored here as such.

8. That which breathes not by the breath,
By which breath is drawn in,
That is Brahman--know thou [this]--
Not that which is honored here as such.


[The teacher speaks:]
Shouldst thou think, "I know [It] well," now little indeed
thou knowest,--a form of Brahman,--what of It is thou, what
of It is among the gods. Think then upon It seriously.

[The pupil:]
I think I know It.

[The teacher:]
I do not think, "I know It well,"
I do not know, "I do not know";
He of us who knows It, knows It,
He does not know, "I know It not."

3. Who thinks not on It, by him It's thought:
Who thinks upon It, does not know,--
Un-understood by those who understand,
By those who understand not understood.

4. Known by an awakening It is seized upon by thought,
And so a man finds immortality:
By the Self one valor wins,
By wisdom immortality.

5. If one has known [It] here, then is there truth;
If one has here not known [It], great is the destruction:
Discerning It in each contingent being,
Wise men, departing from this world, become immortal.


1. Now Brahman won a victory for the gods, and the gods
were exulting in the victory of that Brahman. They thought:
"This victory belongs to us, this majesty belongs to us."
2. Brahman was well aware of what they [were thinking],
and so he made himself visible to them. They did not recognize
Him. "What is this strange creature (yaksha)?" they said.
3. They said to Agni, [the fire god]: "Jatavedas ['all-knowing'
or 'all-possessing']
, look into this right away [and find out]
what this strange creature is."
"All right," said [Agni].
4. He ran off to Him, and He said to him, "Who are you?"
"I am Agni," he replied; "I am Jatavedas."
5. "Well, if that is so, what powers have you?"
"I could burn up everything here in this [whole wide] world!"
6. [Brahman] put a straw down in front of him and said,
"Burn that." He rushed at it at full speed, but could not burn it.
So he returned and said, "I could not find out what this strange creature was."
7. Then they said to Vayu, [the wind-god]: "Vayu, look into this right away
[and find out] what this strange creature is." "All right," said [Vayu].

8. He ran up to Him, and He said to him, "Who are you?"
"I am Vayu," he replied, "I am Matarishvan" ['He who extends himself
in the Mother or the Container,' Master of life]
9. "Well, if that is so, what powers have you?"
"I could carry off everything here in this [whole wide] world."
10. [Brahman] put a straw down in front of him and said,
"Carry it off." He rushed at it at full speed but could not carry it off.
So he returned and said, "I could not find out what this strange creature was."
11. Then they said to Indra: "Naghavan ['bountiful'],
look into this right away [and find out] what this strange creature is. "
"All right," said [Indra].
He ran up to Him, but He disappeared from his sight.
12. In that very place he happened to meet a woman of great beauty,--
Uma [Shiva's consort in later tradition], Himavat's [Himalaya's] daughter;
and he asked her what that strange creature might be.


1. She said: "It is Brahman, and it is in Brahman's victory
that you have been exulting." And straightway [Indra] understood
that it was Brahman.
2. That is why these [three] gods, Agni, Vayu and Indra,
rank rather higher than the other gods, for they came nearest
to touching Him, and it was they [and especially Indra] who
first understood that it was Brahman.
3. That is why Indra ranks rather higher than the other
gods, for he came nearest to touching Him and was the first
to understand that it was Brahman.

4. Now there is this description of Him: "Ah!"--[what people say]
when the lightning flashes,--"Ah!" as they blink their eyes.
So much for the sphere of the gods.
5. Now for the sphere of the [individual] self.
When [a thought] occurs to the mind and the mind recollects
repeatedly,--[this is] conceptual thought (Samkalpa).
6. [Brahman] is called tadvanam ["one who desires it"],
and as such should He be revered. All beings pine for the man
who has this knowledge.

7. [The pupil :] "Sir, tell me the secret doctrine (Upanishad)."

[The teacher:] "You have been told the secret doctrine.
We ourselves have told you the secret doctrine concerning Brahman.
8. "Its basis is ascetic practice, self-restraint, and works (karma),
the Vedas and all the treatises that depend on them (vedanga, or,
'the Vedas are all its limbs').
Truth is [its] dwelling place."
9. Whoever knows this [doctrine] in this way will vanquish evil
and find his home in the infinite, unconquerable (alveye)
world of heaven--[there] will he find his home.


The Katha Upanishad (Kathopanishad - Part I, Chapter 3)
The Path to Knowledge of the REAL

(1) There are two that partake of the Cosmic Order in the World of good deeds. Both have entered into the secret Cave (of the heart) in the superior, the upper worlds of being. Those who know the Secret Teachings (Brahmavidah--those who know the one ultimate Reakity) and those Five-Fired ones (the Good Householders who work in the five levels or with the five principles of the manifest reality) who have kindled the triple Nachiketas Fire (the Kundalini creative serpent-fire), know them as Light (Mahat--the projection of the Shanta Atman--the Silent Witness) and Shade (Buddhi--the intuitive Inner Knower or Jnana Atman). [In the terminology of mystic masonry, these are the Sons of Seth and the Sons of Cain.]
(2) We are able to master that Nachaketas Fire which is the Bridge of those who sacrifice, and which (leads to) the highest imperishable Brahman, the fearless Other Shore for those who wish to cross.
(3) Know the innermost Spiritual Self (Atman)--the ONE LIFE--as Lord of the Chariot, the physical body as the Chariot itself; know the Inner Intuitive knower (Buddhi) to be the Charioteer and the concrete mind (Manas) as the Reins.
(4) The senses and emotions, they say, are the Horses, the inner and outer sense-objects the Path on which they run. The innermost Spiritual Self (Atman)--the ONE LIFE--united to senses and mind is said by the wise to be the Experiencer (bhokta) (the master or Passenger).
(5) He who is without intuitive judgment and whose mind (Manas) is not constantly controlled, his senses and emotions become unmanageable like the vicious horses of a charioteer.
(6) But he who has intuitive judgment, whose mind is ever held firm, his senses and emotions are controllable like the good horses of a charioteer.
(7) He who is without intuitive judgment and is of uncontrolled mind, ever impure, he does not reach the ultimate goal but wanders in the Ocean of the World.
(8) But he who has intuitive judgment and is of controlled mind, ever pure, he attains that goal (padam) (of Conscious Immortality) whence he is born no more.
(9) The man (or woman) who has intuitive judgment as his or her Charioteer, and the mind as Reins, gains the End of the Road. That is the Supreme Abode of the All-Pervading Spirit (Vishnu--the ONE LIFE--the Fire of the Father).

(10) (Higher than inertial matter and form are the active working senses;)
Higher than these senses are the (subtle) objects of sense (the thought-forms projected by the imagination onto the desire nature);
Higher than those objects is the (concrete) mind (Manas) (which projected them);
Higher than Manas (the concrete mind) is the Buddhi (Intuition--the Inner Knower--Root Earth);
Higher than Buddhi (the Intuition) is the Great Self (Mahat Atman) (the Great World Soul--Hiranyagarbha--the Divine Cosmic Pattern or World Order--the Divine Spirit--Son/Daughter--Root Air);
(11) Higher than the Mahat (this "Great Self") is the Unmanifest (Chaos--the First Matter of the Absolute--the Divine Mother or Celestial Virgin--the Matrix or Mother-Space of the Objective World--Root Water);
Higher than the Unmanifest (Chaos) is the Purusha (the ONE LIFE--the pure Spirit of the innermost SELF--Shanta Atman--the Peaceful I AM, the Silent Witness--the Divine Father-Root Fire),
Than the Purusha (this ONE LIFE) there is nothing higher.
He is the End (the Pillar marking the boundary of the Great Void of the Absolute), He the ultimate (Reality) (and Supreme) Goal.

(12) Hidden in all things, this Atman (the ONE LIFE) is yet not visible. He is to be seen, however, by the keen and subtle Buddhi (inner vision) of those who are seers of the subtle (the REAL).

(13) The wise should dissolve Speech (and all of the senses with their inner and outer objects) in the Manas (concrete mind), and that (Manas or mind) (then dissolved) in the Knowledge-Self (Jnana Atman, Buddhi or intuitive Inner Knower). That (intuitional) "Knowledge Self" he should dissolve in the Great Self (Mahat Atman, Divine Cosmic Pattern or Hiranyagarbha) and that (dissolved) in the Shanta Atman (Silent Witness or innermost Spirit) or Peaceful Self (the ONE LIFE).


The Kathopanishad (Complete)

Death as the Teacher

(Eknath Easwaran Translation)





1. Once, long ago, Vajasravasa gave away his possessions to gain religious merit.
2. He had a son named Nachiketa who, though only a boy, was full of faith in the scriptures. Nachiketa thought when the offerings were made:
3. "What merit can one obtain by giving away cows that are too old to give milk?"
4. To help his father understand this, Nachiketa said: "To whom will you offer me?" He asked this again and again. "To death I give you!" said his father in anger.
5. The son thought: "I go, the first of many who will die, in the midst of many who are dying, on a mission to Yama, king of death.
6. See how it was with those who came before, How it will be with those who are living. Like corn mortals ripen and fall; like corn They come up again."
Nachiketa went to Yama's abode, but the king of death was not there. He waited three days. When Yama returned, he heard a voice say:














15. Then the king of death taught Nachiketa how to perform the fire sacrifice, how to erect the altar for worshipping the fire from which the universe evolves. When the boy repeated his instruction, the dread king of death was well pleased and said:














Having tested young Nachiketa and found him fit to receive spiritual instruction, Yama, king of death, said:





























The Mundaka Upanishad (Mundakopanishad)

Two Modes of Knowing

Eknath Easwaran Translation







*The above verses appear to be incomplete in this translation. The following are these verses translated by R. C. Zaehner in his "The Hindu Scriptures":
      1. This is the truth:
      The (ritual) acts (karma) that the seers beheld in the sacred formulas
      Were spread abroad on the threefold [fire]:
      O ye who long for truth, perform them constantly,
      This is for you the path of [work] well done on earth.
      2. For when the flame shows signs of dying down,
      Though [the fire] that carries off the offering be lit,
      Then should the oblations be offered up
      Between the portions of the melted ghee.
      3. The man whose oblation to the fire
      Is offered up with no New- or Full-Moon rites,
      No four-month rites or harvest rites,
      Without guests or [honor to] the universal gods,
      Or offered in a manner not prescribed,
      Or not offered up [at all],
      Forfeits for himself worlds up to the seventh [world].
      4. Black, Gaping, Swift as thought,
      Vermilion, [Brown] as smoke,
      Emitting sparks, All-radiant divine,--
      These are the seven tongues [of the flame] that is dying down.
      5. Whoso performs [the rite] while these are blazing
      And receives the oblations at the proper time,--
      Him they lead on, [become] the sun's rays [themselves],
      To where is the one Lord of the gods, [our] refuge.















The Four Minor Upanishads


The Tejabindu Upanishad


1. Let us meditate on the shining Self,
Changeless, underlying the world of change,
And realized in the heart in samadhi (adoration or union with the inner god).

2. Hard to reach is the supreme goal of life.
Hard to describe and hard to abide in.
3. They alone attain samadhi who have
Mastered their senses and are free from anger,
Free from self-will and from likes and dislikes,
Without selfish bonds to people and things.

4. They alone attain samahdi who are
Prepared to face challenge after challenge
In the three stages of meditation.
Under an illumined teacher's guidance
They become united with the Lord of Love,
5-6. Called Vishnu, who is present everywhere.
Though the three gunas (qualities) emanate from him,
He is infinite and invisible.
Though all the galaxies emerge from him,
He is without form and unconditioned.

To be united with the Lord of Love
Is to be freed from all conditioning.
This is the state of Self-realization,
Far beyond the reach of words and thoughts.

To be united with the Lord of love,
Imperishable, changeless, beyond cause
And effect, is to find infinite joy.
Brahman (the infinite One) is beyond all duality,
Beyond the reach of thinker and of thought.

Let us meditate on the shining Self,
The ultimate reality, who is
Realized by the sages in samadhi.

Brahman cannot be realized by those
Who are subject to greed, fear, and anger.
Brahman cannot be realized by those
Who are subject to the pride of name and fame
Or to the vanity of scholarship.
Brahman cannot be realized by those
Who are enmeshed in life's duality.

But to those who pierce this duality,
Whose hearts are given to the Lord of Love,
He gives himself through his infinite grace;
He gives himself through his infinite grace.
O M shanti shanti shanti

The Paramahamsa Upanishad

1. Narada (Lord of Events) inquired of the Lord of Love:
"What is the state of the illumined man?"
The Lord replied: "Hard to reach is the state
Of the illumined man. Only a few
Attain to it. But even one is enough.
For he is the pure Self of the Scriptures;
He is truly great because he serves me.
And I reveal myself through him always."

He has renounced all selfish attachments
And observes no rites or ceremonies.
He has only minimum possessions,
And lives his life for the welfare of all.

2. He has no staff nor tuft nor sacred thread.
He faces heat and cold, pleasure and pain,
Honor and dishonor with equal calm.
He is not affected by calumny,
Pride, jealousy, status, joy, or sorrow,
Greed, anger, or infatuation,
Excitement, egoism, or other goads;
For he knows he is neither body nor mind.

Free from the sway of doubt and false knowledge
He lives united with the Lord of Love.
Who is ever serene, immutable,
Indivisible, the source of all joy
And wisdom. The Lord is his true home,
His pilgrim's tuft of hair, his sacred thread;
For he has entered the unitive state.

3. Having renounced every selfish desire,
He has found his rest in the Lord of Love.
Wisdom is the staff that supports him now.
Those who take a mendicant's staff while they
Are still at the mercy of their senses
Cannot escape enormous suffering.
The illumined man knows this truth of life.

4. For him the universe is his garment
And the Lord not separate from himself.
He offers no ancestral oblations;
He praises nobody, blames nobody,
Is never dependent on anyone.

He has no need to repeat the mantram,
No more need to practice meditation.
The world of change and changeless reality
Are one to him, for he sees all in God.

5. The aspirant who is seeking the Lord
Must free himself from selfish attachments
To people, money, and possessions.
When his mind sheds every selfish desire,
He becomes free from the duality
Of pleasure and pain and rules his senses.
No more is he capable of ill will;
No more is he subject to elation,
For his senses come to rest in the Self.
Entering into the unitive state,
He attains the goal of evolution.
Truly he attains the goal of evolution.
O M shanti shanti shanti

The Amritabindu Upanishad

1. The mind may be said to be of two kinds,
Pure and inpure; Driven by the senses
It becomes inpure; but with senses
Under control, the mind becomes pure.

2. It is the mind that frees us or enslaves.
Driven by the senses we become bound;
Master of the senses we become free.
3. Those who seek freedom must master their senses.

4. When the mind is detached from the senses
One reaches the summit of consciousness.
5. Mastery of the mind leads to wisdom.
Practice meditation. Stop all vain talk.
6. The highest state is beyond the reach of thought,
For it lies beyond all duality.

7. Keep repeating the ancient mantram O M
Until it reverberates in your heart.

8. Brahman is indivisible and pure;
Realize Brahman and go beyond all change.
9. He is (both) immanent and transcendent.
Realizing him, sages attain freedom
10. And declare there are no separate minds.
They have realized what they always are.

11. Waking, sleeping, dreaming, the Self is one.
Transcend these three and go beyond rebirth.

12. There is only one Self in all creatures.
The One appears many, just as the moon
Appears many, reflected in water.

13. The Self appears to change its location
But does not, just as the air in a jar
Changes not when the jar is moved about.
14. When the jar is broken, the air knows not;
But the Self knows well when the body is shed.

15. We see not the Self, concealed by maya (illusion);
When the veil falls, we see we are the Self.

16. The mantram is the symbol of Brahman;
Repeating it can bring peace to the mind.

17. Knowledge is twofold, lower and higher.
Realize the Self; for all else is lower.
18. Realization is rice; all else is chaff.

19. The milk of cows of any hue is white.
The sages say that wisdom is the milk
And the sacred Sriptures are the cows.

20. As butter lies hidden within milk,
The Self is hidden in the hearts of all.
Churn the mind through meditation on it;
21. Light your fire through meditation on it;
The Self, all whole, all peace, all certitude.

22. "I have realized the Self," declares the sage,
"Who is present in all beings.
I am united with the Lord of Love;
I am united with the Lord of Love."
O M shanti shanti shanti



The Atma Upanishad


1. This is the teaching of (a great) sage:

Purusha (highest Spirit) manifests itself in three ways:
As outer, inner, and supreme Self.
Skin, flesh, vertebral column, hair, fingers,
Toes, nails, ankles, stomach, navel, hips, thighs,
Cheeks, eyebrows, forehead, head, eyes, outer self.
The body, subject to birth and death.

2. The inner self perceives the outside world.
Made up of earth, water, fire, air and space (akasha).
It is the victim of likes and dislikes,
Pleasure and pain, and delusion and doubt.
It knows all the subtleties of language,
Enjoys dance, music, and all the fine arts;
Delights in the senses, recalls the past,
Reads the Scriptures, and is able to act.
This is the mind, the inner person.

3. The supreme Self, adored in the Scriptures,
Can be realized through the path of yoga.
Subtler than the banyan seed, subtler
Than the hundred-thousandth part of a hair,
This Self cannot be grasped, cannot be seen.

The supreme Self is neither born nor dies.
He cannot be burned, moved, pierced, cut, nor dried.
Beyond all attributes, the supreme Self
Is the eternal witness (shanta atman), ever pure,
Indivisible, and uncompounded,
Far beyond the senses and the ego.
In him conflicts and expectations cease.
He is omnipresent, beyond all thought,
Without action in the external world.
Detached from the outer and the inner,
This supreme Self purifies the impure.
O M shanti shanti shanti


(The Lord's Song or Song Celestial)


Chapter 12
(Bhakti yoga--the path of the Devotee)

[This has been said (by B.P. Wadia) to be the chapter of prime importance in chelaship or discipleship--where Arjuna the warrior, who symbolizes the human Higher Ego, is being instructed by Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu or the Love-wisdom (form-preserving) aspect of the Solar Logos, who symbolizes the human Monad or Divine spark, as to the best devotional path to God-consciousness or true SELF-Realization.]



Arjuna said:

Of those who are thus ever integrated and serve You with loyal devotion, and those who [revere] the Imperishable nmanifest, which are the most experienced [or most perfect] in spiritual exercise.

2. The Blessed Lord said:

Those I deem to be most integrated who fix their thoughts on Me and serve Me, ever integrated [in themselves], filled with the highest faith.
3. But those who revere the indeterminate Imperishable Unmanifest [Parabrahman, Godhead], unthinkable though coursing everywhere, sublime, aloof, unmoving, firm,
4. Who hold in check the complex of the senses, in all things equal-minded, taking pleasure in the weal [or welfare] of all contingent [manifest or conditioned] beings, these too attain to me [to My Consciousness].
5. [But] greater is the toil of those whose thinking clings to the Unmanifest; for difficult [indeed] it is for embodied men to reach-and-tread the unmanifested way.



6. But those who cast off [or dedicate] all their works on [or to] Me, solely intent on Me, and meditate on me in spiritual exercise, leaving no room for others, [and so really] do Me honor,
7. These will I lift up on high out of the ocean of recurring death, and that right soon, for their thoughts are fixed on Me.
8. On me alone let your mind dwell, stir up your soul to enter Me; thenceforth in very truth in Me you will find your home.
9. But if you are unable in all steadfastness to concentrate your thoughts on Me, then seek to win Me by effort unremitting.
10. And if for such effort you lack the strength, then work-and-act for Me, make this your goal; for even if you work only for my sake, you will receive the prize.
11. And then again if even this exceeds your powers, gird up your loins, renounce the fruit of all your works with [personal] self restrained.
12. For better is wisdom than [mere] effort, better than wisdom meditation; and [better] than meditation to renounce the fruits of works: renunciation leads straightway to peace.



13. Let a man feel hatred for no contingent being, let him be friendly, compassionate; let him be done with thoughts of 'I' and 'mine', the same in pleasure as in pain [viragya], long suffering.
14. Content and ever integrated, his [personal] self restrained, his purpose firm, let his mind be steeped in Me, let him worship Me with love: then will I love him [in return].
15. That man I love from whom the people do not shrink and who does not shrink from them, who is free from exaltation, fear, impatience, and excitement.
16. I love the man who has no expectation, is pure and skilled, indifferent, who has no worries and gives up all [selfish] enterprise, loyal-and-devoted to me.
17. I love the man who hates not nor exults, who mourns not nor desires, who puts away both pleasant and unpleasant things, who is loyal-devoted-and-devout.
18-19. I love the man who is the same to friend and foe, [the same] whether he be respected or despised, the same in heat and cold, in pleasure as in pain, who has put away attachment and remains unmoved by praise or blame, who is taciturn, contented with whatever comes his way, having no home, of steady mind, [but] loyal-devoted-and-devout.
20. But as for those who reverence these deathless [words] of righteousness which I have just now spoken, putting their faith [in them], making Me their goal, my loving-devotees,--these do I love exceedingly.


Chapter 13
(The Book of Religion by Separation of Matter and Spirit)



Arjuna said:

[What is] Nature? [What the] 'person'? [What] the 'field' and [what] the 'knower of the field'? This, Krishna, would I know. [What too] is knowledge? [What] that which should be known?

The Blessed Lord said:

The body is called the 'field' and he who knows it is the 'knower of the field', or so it has been said by those whio know it.
3. And know that I am the 'knower of the field' in every field; knowledge of [this] field and [this] knower of the field I deem to be [true] knowledge.
4. What that field is and what it is like, what are its changes and which derives from which, and who He is, [the knower of the fireld,] and what his powers, hear [now] from Me in brief.
5. In many ways has it been sung by seers, in varied hymns each in its separate way, in aphoristic verses concerning Brahman, well reasoned and conclusive.
6. Gross elements, the ego, intellect (buddhi), the Unmanifest, the eleven senses, and the five [sense objects] on which the senses thrive,
7. Desire, hate, pleasure, pain, sensus communis [the aggregate of or bringing together of the human senses], thought and constancy,--these, in briefest span, are called the field together with their changes.


8. To shun conceit and tricky ways, to wish none harm, to be long-suffering and upright, to reverence one's teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-restraint,
9. Detachment from the senses' objects and no sense of 'I' most certainly, insight into birth, death, old age, disease, and pain, and what constitutes their worthlessness,
10. To be detached and not cling to sons, wives, houses, and the like, a constant equal-mindedness whatever happens, pleasing or unpleasing,
11. Unswerving loyalty-and-love for Me with spiritual exercise on no other bent, to dwell apart in desert places, to take no pleasure in the company of men,
12. Constant attention to the wisdom that appertains to self, to see where knowledge of reality must lead, [all] this is 'knowledge',--or so it has been said. Ignorance is what is otherwise than this.


13. [And now] I will tell you that which should be known: once a man knows it, he attains to immortality. The highest Brahman It is called,--beginningless,--It is not Being nor is It Not-Being.
14. Hands and feet It has on every side, on every side eyes, heads, mouths, and ears; in the world all things encompassing [changeless] it abides.
15. Devoid of all the senses, It yet sheds light on all their qualities, [from all] detached, and yet supporting all; free from Nature's constituents, It yet experiences them.
16. Within all beings, yet without them; unmoved, It yet moves indeed; so subtle is It you cannot comprehend It; far off It stands, and yet how near it is!
17. Undivided in beings It abides, seeming divided: this is That which should be known,--[the one] who sustains, devours, and generates [all] beings.
18. Light of lights, 'Beyond the Darkness' It is called: [true] knowledge, what should be known, accessible to knowledge, established in the heart of all.
19. And so in brief I have explained the 'field' and 'knowledge' and 'that which should be known'; the man who loves-and-worships Me, on knowing this, becomes fit to [share in] my own mode of being.


'Nature' and 'Person': know that these two are both beginningless: and know that change and quality arise from Nature.
21. Material Nature, they say, is [itself] the cause of cause, effect, and agency, while 'person' is said to be the cause in the experience of pleasure and pain.
22. For 'person' is lodged in material Nature, experiencing the 'constituents' that arise from it; because he attaches himself to these he comes to birth in good and evil wombs.
23. [And yet another One there is who,] surveying and approving, supports and [Himself] experiences [the constituents of Nature], the Mighty Lord: 'Highest Self' some call Him, the 'Highest Person' in this body.
24. Whoever knows 'person', material Nature, and its constituents to be such, in whatever state he be, he is not born again.
25. By meditation some themselves see Self in self (atamanam atmana), others by putting sound reason into practice (Samkhyena or Jnana yoga), yet others by the exercise of works (Karma yoga).
26. But some, not knowing thus, hear it from others and revere it; and even these, taking their stand on what they hear, overcome death indeed.
27. Whatever being comes to be, be it motionless or moving, [derives its being] from union of 'field' and 'knower of the field': this know.



28. The same in all contingent beings, abiding [without change], the Highest Lord, when all things fall to ruin, [Himself] is not destroyed: who sees Him sees [indeed].
29. For seeing Him, the same, the Lord, established everywhere, he cannot of himself to [him]self do hurt, hence he treads the highest way.
30. Nature it is which in every way does-work-and-acts; no agent is the self: who sees it thus sees [indeed].
31. When once a man can see [all] the diversity of contingent beings as abiding in One [alone] and their radiation out of It, then to Brahman he attains.
32. Because this Highest Self knows no beginning, no constituents, it does not pass away: though abiding in [many] a body, it does not act nor is it defiled.
33. Just as the ether, roving everywhere, knows no defilement, so subtle [is its essence], so does [this] Self, though everywhere abiding embodied, know no defilement.
34. As the one sun lights up this whole universe, so does the 'owner of the field' illumine the whole 'field'.
35. Whoso with wisdom's eye discerns the difference between 'field' and 'knower of the field', and knows deliverence from material Nature to which [all] contingent beings are subject, goes to the further [shore].

Chapter 14
(The Book of Religion by Separation from the Qualities)




The Blessed Lord Said:

[And now] again I shall proclaim the highest wisdom, best of doctrines; on knowing this all sages, when they passed on hence, attained the highest prize.
2. With this wisdom as their bulwark they reached a rank [in the order of existence] equivalent to my own, and even when [the universe is once again] engendered, they are not born [again], and when [again] it is dissolved, they know no trepidation.


3. Great Brahman is to me a womb, in it I plant the seed: from this derives the origin of all contingent [conditioned or manifest] beings.
4. In whatever womb whatever form arises-and-grows-together, of [all] those [forms] Great Brahman is the womb, I the father, giver of the seed.


5. Goodness (Sattva)--Passion (Rajas)--Darkness (Tamas): these are the [three] constituents (or qualities) (Trigunas) from (Material) Nature sprung that bind the embodied [self] in the body though [the self itself] is changeless.
6. Among these Goodness, being immaculate, knowing no sickness, dispenses light, [and yet] it binds by [causing the self] to cling to wisdom and to joy.
7. Passion is instinct with desire, [this] know. From craving and attachment it wells up. It binds the embodied [self] by [causing it] to cling to works.
8. But from ignorance is Darkness (inertia) born: mark [this] well. All embodied [selves] it leads astray. With fecklessness (irresponsibility, heedlessness) and sloth (laziness) and sleepiness it binds.
9. Goodness causes [a man] to cling to joy, Passion to works; but Darkness, stifling wisdom, attaches to fecklessness.
10. Once it dominates Passion and Darkness, Goodness waxes strong; so Passion and Darkness when they dominate the other two.
11. When at all the body's gates wisdom's light arises, then must you know that Goodness has increased.
12. When Passion is waxing strong, these [states] arise: greed, [purposeful] activity, committing oneself to works, disquiet, and ambition.
13. When Darkness is surging up, these [states] arise: unlighted [darkness], unwillingness to act, fecklessness, delusion.
14. But when an embodied [self] comes face to face with [the body's] dissolution and Goodness prevails, then will he reach the spotless worlds of those who know the highest.
15. [Another] goes to his demise when Passion [predominates]; he will be born among such men as cling to works: and as to him who dies when Darkness [has the upper hand], he will be born in the wombs of deluded fools.
16. Of works well done, they say, the fruits belong to Goodness, being without spot: but pain is the fruit of Passion, ignorance the fruit of Darkness.
17. From Goodness wisdom springs, from Passion greed, from Darkness fecklessness, delusion and ignorance--how not?
18. Upward is the path of those who abide in Goodness, in the middle stand the men of passion. Stuck in the modes of the vilest constituent the men of Darkness go below.
19. When the watching [self] sees there is no agent other than [these] constituents and knows what is beyond them, then will he come to [share in] that mode of being which is mine.
20. Transcending these three constituents which give the body its existence, from the sufferings of birth, death, and old age delivered, the embodied [self] wins immortality.
Arjuna said:
21. What signs, Lord, mark him out,--[this man] who has transcended those three constituents? How does he behave? And how does he step out beyond these three constituents?



The Blessed Lord saud:
22. Radiance--activity--yes, delusion too,--when these arise he hates them not; and when [in turn] they cease he pines not after them.
23. As one indifferent he sits, by the constituebnts unruffled: 'So the constituents are busy': thus he thinks. Firm-based is he, unquavering.
24. The same in pleasure as in pain and self-assured, the same when faced with clods of earth or stones or gold; for him, wise man, are friend and foe of equal weight, equal the praise or blame [with which men cover him].
25. Equal [his mind] in honor and disgrace, equal to ally and to enemy, he renounces every [busy]enterprise: 'He has transcended the constituents': so must men say.
26. And as to those who do Me honor with spiritual exercise, in loyalty-and-love undeviating, passed [clean] beyond these constituents, top becoming Brahman they are conformed. For I am the base supporting Brahman,--immortal [Brahman] which knows no change,--[supporting] too the eternal law of righteousness and absolute beatitude.
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