Kena Upanishad 1,1 to 1,4 verses, Samaveda, Sanskrit, Devanagari

By the time of the Buddha, around the 6th century B.C., intellectual speculations gave rise to philosophical concepts that still influence all of South Asia. These speculations became books called Upanishads, originally written as commentaries on the Vedas but later viewed as sacred works in their own right.

The Upanishads are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought, and have profoundly influenced diverse traditions. Of the Shrutis (Vedic corpus), they alone are widely influential among Hindus, considered scriptures par excellence of Hinduism, and their central ideas have continued to influence its thoughts and traditions. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan states that the Upanishads have played a dominating role ever since their appearance. [Source: Wikipedia]

According to the BBC: “The Upanishads were so called because they were taught to those who sat down beside their teachers. (upa=near, ni=down, shad=sit). These texts developed from the Vedic tradition, but largely reshaped Hinduism by providing believers with philosophical knowledge. The major Upanishads were largely composed between 800-200 B.C. and are partly prose, partly verse.Later Upanishads continued to be composed right down to the 16th century. Originally they were in oral form. [Source: BBC |::|]

Sri Aurobindo (1872 - 1950), a translator of The Upanishadic translations: “The Upanishads are Vedanta, a book of knowledge in a higher degree even than the Vedas, but knowledge in the profounder Indian sense of the word, JnanaJnana. And because it is only by an integral knowing of the self that this kind of direct knowledge can be made complete, it was the self of the Vedantic sages sought to know, to live in and to be one with it by identity. And through this endeavour they came easily to see that the self in us is one with the Universal Self of all things and that this self again is the same as God and Brahman, a transcendent Being or Existence, and they beheld, felt, lived in the inmost truth of man´s inner and outer existence by the light of this one and unifying vision. The Upanishads are epic hymns of self-knowledge and world-knowledge and God-knowledge. “

Hindu Texts: Clay Sanskrit Library claysanskritlibrary.org ; Sacred-Texts: Hinduism sacred-texts.com ; Sanskrit Documents Collection: Documents in ITX format of Upanishads, Stotras etc. sanskritdocuments.org ; Ramayana and Mahabharata condensed verse translation by Romesh Chunder Dutt libertyfund.org ; Ramayana as a Monomyth from UC Berkeley web.archive.org ; Ramayana at Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org ; Mahabharata holybooks.com/mahabharata-all-volumes ; Mahabharata Reading Suggestions, J. L. Fitzgerald, Das Professor of Sanskrit, Department of Classics, Brown University brown.edu/Departments/Sanskrit_in_Classics ; Mahabharata Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org ; Bhagavad Gita (Arnold translation) wikisource.org/wiki/The_Bhagavad_Gita ; Bhagavad Gita at Sacred Texts sacred-texts.com ; Bhagavad Gita gutenberg.org gutenberg.org

Different Upanishhads

While there are numerous upanishhads (1180), 108 of them are considered genuine (given by the list in Muktika upanishhad). Ten to thirteen of them including Katha-Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Taittirîyaka-Upanishad, Brihadâranyaka Upanishad, Svetâsvatara Upanishad, Prasña Upanishad, Maitrâyana Brâhmana Upanishad, Isha Upanishad, Kena Upanishad and Chandogya Upanishad are considered the most significant or "major" upanishhads since they have been commented upon by the major acharyas (teachers) of various traditions. Upanishhads means 'to sit down near' because they were explained to the students sitting near the feet of their teacher.

Prashna Upanishad, Sanskrit, Devanagari script

Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7 reads:
There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth,
beyond us all,
beyond the heavens,
beyond the highest,
the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in our heart.

Ideas in the Upanishhads

“The early Upanishads are concerned with understanding the sacrificial rites. Central to the Upanishads is the concept of brahman; the sacred power which informs reality. Whilst the priests (brahmins) had previously been the ones who, through ritual and sacrifice, had restricted access to the divine, now the knowledge of the universe was open to those of the high and middle castes willing to learn from a teacher.” |::|

The Upanishads discuss brahman, an impersonal, eternal force that embodies all good and all knowledge. The individual "soul," or atman, partakes of the same qualities as brahman but remains immersed in ignorance. Action (karma) is the cause of its ignorance; reason continually searches for meaning in the material world and in its own mental creations, instead of concentrating on brahman, the one true reality. The individual soul, immersed in action, migrates from life to life, until it achieves identity with brahman and is released. There is a close relationship between the Buddha's understanding of suffering and enlightenment, and the ideas of atman, karma, and brahman that became basic to Hindu philosophy. The Buddha, however, claimed that even the idea of the soul was a mental construct of no value, whereas Hindu thought has generally preserved a belief in the soul. [Source: Russell R. Ross and Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1988]

In the introduction to the "Hindu Scriptures", R.C. Zaehner wrote: “The Upanishads investigate the nature of reality and their main conclusion is that in both the universe at large and in the individual human being there is a ground of pure Being which is impervious to change."

Importance of the Upanishads

Sanderson Beck, a writer, peace activist and philosopher, wrote: “The Upanishads have been perennial sources of spiritual knowledge. The word upanishhad means secret and sacred knowledge. This word occurs in the Upanishads themselves in more than a dozen places in this sense. The word also means "Texts incorporating such knowledge." There are ten principal Upanishads. Other than these, a few more like Shvetaashwatara and KaushiTaki are also considered important. Though it is known that even before Sri Shankara, commentaries were written on the Upanishads, these have been lost. Sri Shankara's commentaries on the principal Upanishads are the earliest available. Sri Ramanuja has not written any commentaries on them, but a later disciple Sri Rangaramanuja has written them. Sri Madhvacharya has written commentaries (bhaashya-s) on the ten principal Upanishads. Interpretation of passages from these and other Upanishads is also discussed by him in his Suutra-Bhaashya, which is mainly about the interpretation of Shruti texts and also in his other major works like Anu-vyaakhyaana, Vishnu-tatva-vinirNaya, and Tattvodyota. [Source: dvaita.org]

yoga is rooted in the Upanishads, or so they say

“Modern thinkers generally hold that the earliest literature of India is the Vedas, of which Rg Veda was the first to be composed. These were hymns in praise of nature gods, which emphasised ritualism and had little philosophic content. Some have even attempted statistical analysis of the number of times individual god names were taken up for praise and concluded that Vishnu, later extolled as the Supreme God, has fewer hymns than the more common Indra, Agni and Varuna. Subsequent compositions called braahmaNa-s and araNyaka-s both in verse and prose contain attempts in explaining philosophical and cosmological questions. Upanishads were composed next in order and contain the highest flights of philosophical speculation in Vedantic thought. While perhaps it is comforting to reduce the entire source material of Vedanta philosophy into a well ordered scheme which the modern mind can easily understand, there are serious discrepancies in this theory.

“Vedantins who profess the Vedic streams of all hues have traditionally believed that the Vedas and Vedanta literature is apaurushheya, not composed by anyone (including God) and hence beginningless and eternal. Even the name used for the Vedas for thousands of years of human memory -- Shruti indicates this fact, which is also justified by rigorous logic. Far from being a collection of disjointed hymns, which the Vedas are made out to be by people ignorant of them, there is in them a thread of unity of thought, in describing a Supreme Being, who is different and who is the inner controller of all other beings, including the so called nature gods. The artificial division of the mass of Vedic literature into karma kaaNDa (dealing with rituals) and j~nAna kANDa dealing with Philosophy is untenable, in the context of the three fold interpretation of the Vedas, explained for the first time by Sri Madhva, in his Rgbhashya.

“According to Madhva, the Brahma Suutra's OM gatisAmAnyAt.h OM clearly indicates the decided position of its author, Veda Vyaasa, that all the Vedas, believed to be infinite in extent, have eka-vaakyata unity in stating the conclusion. Be as that as may, the ten principal Upanishads contain the essence of the philsophical teaching of the entire Vedic religion. The Brahma Suutra, composed by Veda Vyaasa, accepted as the authority for the correct interpretation of the Vedas refers to a number of well known Upanishadic texts and gives clues regarding their correct and consistent interpretation. All the different founders of Vedanta schools have started from the basic position of the infallibility of the Vedas, Upanishads and the Brahma Suutra and have tried to justify the claims that their own conclusions are in accordance with them.

Central Theme of the Upanishads

Sanderson Beck, a writer, peace activist and philosopher, wrote: Sri Shankaracharya and some of his modern followers take Monism or Atmaikya, and Absolutism or nirguNa-brahmavaada to be the central theme of Upanishads. Consequently, Idealism or the world being merely a projection, which is unreal, is also taken to be a tenet of the Upanishads. Thus upaasanaa (worship) and bhakti (devotion) are relegated to a secondary position, being needed only up to a point in the spiritual evolution of the soul. Liberation, the final goal of spiritual development becomes less attractive, as the seeker loses his own identity in his merger with the Absolute. The entire process of Creation delineated with such great care in the Upanishads is reduced to a mere illusion. [Source: dvaita.org]

“Texts describing Brahman, the Supreme Being, as sarvaj~na (all knowing), sarva-shaktimaan (All Powerful) are also relegated to be descriptions of Ishwara or the Saguna Brahman, who is also a product of the universal Avidya, while Brahman is actually nirguNa or without any attributes in absolute reality. Some of the richest material in the Upanishads delineating the glory of God, the process of creation, prescribing different methods of upaasanaa, Eschatology, recommending meditation, devotion etc. have to be relegated to a secondary position, as they are essentially dealing with the machinations of the unreal Avidya, which vanishes into "nothing," when the soul is liberated and discovers its identity with the formless and attributeless Brahman. In other words, much of Upanishadic texts are worthless and untrue in the domain of the final reality. On the other hand, a few passages are elevated to decisive importance, as they can be interpreted, in a limited sense, to convey Monism.

Isha Upanishad Verses 1 to 3, Shukla Yajurveda, Sanskrit, Devanagari

“Anyone who has an acquaintance with the deep and mystical atmosphere conjured up by the Upanishads can not accept this position. The central theme of the Upanishads is not Monism but Monotheism, the concept of an all pervasive, immanent supreme being. He is not nirguNa (attributeless), but is guNaparipuurNa -- full of all possible auspicious qualities. The very word brahma indicates this basic delineation of the Supreme Lord. Such a theme brings all the rest of the passages in the Upanishads into proper focus and makes them fully meaningful and essential for the aspirant. All of them will contribute in one way or the other to the development of this central theme and none of them will look secondary or suprefluous. In the larger context of the Vedanta, as a whole, the Vedas, Brahmana-s, Aranyakas, Upanishads and the great Epics which include the other Prasthaana texts -- Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Suutra are woven into a glorious tapestry of the indescribable but realizable, fathomless but understandable glory of the Supreme Person, who has been extolled by great devotees in all Bhakti compositions. The artificial concept of two Brahmans, Saguna and Nirguna simultaneously existing, though totally different in essence, created by Monism to explain away the wealth of texts describing the glory of the Lord is done away with, with a simple explanation of nirguNa being One who completely transcends the three guNa-s -- sattva, rajas and tamas constituting prak.rti, which is responsible for the world as we know it.”

Organization of the The Upanishads

Sanderson Beck wrote: “The Upanishads have their own unique style. Their exposition is in four different ways: 1) Dialogue with questions and answers; 2) Narration and episodes; 3) Similes, metaphors and illustrations; and 4) Symbolism. [Source: dvaita.org]

“Normally, it is not difficult to ascertain the purport of the texts in the first two types. In some cases, the questions and answers are of the reductio-ad-absurdum type and the correct conclusion has to be drawn. In the cases 3 and 4, it is more difficult to ascertain the purport, as which aspect or shade of meaning of the simile or illustration is being used to illustrate the meaning. However, clues are available in the wording of similes etc and also in the following passages. These have been exploited effectively by Sri Madhva in his interpretations. Symbolisms employed by the Upanishads are essentially of 3 types -- Nature symbolism, sacrifices and sacrificial items used as symbols, and mystic sound syllables such as Aum being used as symbols. These need careful study. Many symbols, similies, illustrations, and episodes are repeated in different Upanishads, sometimes with slight changes. A good many verses are also repeated. The correct meaning can be derived by applying the supreme test of consistency to the different occurences, in addition to the other criteria mentioned earlier.

“The Brahma Suutra indicates three main guidelines to understand the purport of the Upanishads: 1) tattu samanvayaat.h -- The total material available on the point of study in the entire Shruti literature has to be taken into account and interpreted correctly by applying the canons of interpretation. 2) gati samaanyaat.h -- All the Shruti literature have the same purport and apparent contradictions are resolved by proper study and interpretation; 3) sarvavedaantapratyayam.h -- The underlying purport of the Upanishads is found to be one consistent truth, which when understood fully will lead to God-realization.”

Aitareya Upanishad, Sanskrit, Rigveda, Devanagari script, 1865 CE manuscript

“It is only the lack of utilisation of the guidelines fully and properly that has led many commentators to derive Monism and Absolutism out of Vedanta. Traditional monistic commentators had a committed approach towards "proving" their school irrespective of the actual correct meanings derived from Vedanta texts. Modern neo-Vedantic scholars have very limited equipment in terms of knowledge and intelligence with which to exhaustively use the critical apparatus, and have hence made a thorough mess in their interpretations, which often conflict with or misinterpret the positions adopted by the senior scholars whose lead they are supposed to be following. “

Central Theme of the Upanishads: Delineation Of a Supreme Lor

Sanderson Beck wrote: “The central theme of Upanishads is Monotheism or the delineation of a Supreme Being as the cardinal principle of the universe. This is designated as Brahman, Atman, Akshara, Akaasha, PraaNa, etc. In the Upanishads, Akaasha and PraaNa can also mean the element Akaasha, the deity Vayu etc. The meaning applicable in a particular text has to be derived with the help of attributes mentioned therein. [Source: dvaita.org]

“ The Supreme Principle is described as the Creator, Sustainer, Regulator, Destroyer, Enlightener and Liberator of all. It is also the one and only Independent Principle upon which all other entities are dependent. It is Immanent and Transcendent. It admits of contradictory features of everyday experience being present in it simultaneously -- aNu (atomic) and mahat.h (infinite), etc. Being Infinite in all respects, it cannot be comprehended by anyone completely. It has no drawbacks or blemishes of any kind. It directs all and is not directed or constrained by anyone. It is absolutely independent in its very nature and essence, functions and comprehension and innate unlimited bliss, none of which need any element external to it for its completeness. All others derive their limited qualities and capacities from it. It is thus described as Sat, Chit and Ananda in its essential nature.

“The features of the Supreme Lord are described almost in all the Upanishads. PraaNa occupies an important place in the Upanishads next only to the Supreme being. The Chhaandogya and ShaTprashna Upanishads, in particular, bring out the role of PraaNa, who is His chief aide and is superior to all other deities. He is however eternally and completely subservient to Lord Vishnu, the Supreme being. Upanishads clearly distinguish between the Supreme Being and other souls. Their basic differences which are in their essential nature itself are contrasted in several texts. The metaphor of the two birds, one reaping the fruits of its past deeds and the other not doing so is found more than once. The Causus-belli of the Upanishads -- to enable the souls to attain liberation by the grace of God, would be totally incongruent and lost, if they have no locus standi in their essential nature as distinct fron the world and the Lord. Upanishads are also clear about the reality of the external world (other than the souls) and state it clearly more than once. prakrti or primordial Nature is the material cause of the world, while God is the efficient cause.

Chandogya Upanishad vivarana, Whish manuscript collection, Kahle-Austin Foundation, Sanskrit, Grantha script

“ The text eka vij~nAnena sarvavij~nAna does not support the Vivarta theory of Advaita, which reduces the external world to an unreal state in essence. A number of upaasana-s are described. The importance of shravana, manana etc. Is stressed. The need of vairaagya (detachment from material entities), bhakti (devotion towards the Lord), etc., for the aspirant in his efforts to achieve salvation is delineated. The doctrine of prasaada (God's grace) is mentioned more than once. Eschatology is described through texts explaining devaayaNa and pitraayaNa. Thus all that is necessary to pursue the spiritual path is covered in the Upanishads. With a view to give a more detailed picture of the contents of each of these Upanishads, a summary of the subjects dealt with along with essential points in each is now given under separate headings.”

Creation of the World According to the Upanishads

Creation of the World According to the Upanishads: 1) There was nothing whatsoever here in the beginning. By death indeed was this covered, or by hunger, for hunger is death. He created the mind, thinking 'let me have a self' (mind). Then he moved about, worshiping. From him, thus worshiping, water was produced. . . .
2 . . . .. That which was the froth of the water became solidified; that became the earth. On it he [i.e., death] rested. From him thus rested and heated (from the practice of austerity) his essence of brightness came forth (as) fire.
3) He divided himself threefold (fire is one-third), the sun one-third and the air one-third. He also is life [lit., breath] divided threefold, . . . (Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad, 1, 2, 1-3.) [Source: S. Radhakrishnan (editor and translator), “The Principal Upanishads” (New York: Harper & Row, 1953), PP. 151-2, 399, 447-9,, Eliade Page website]

1) The Sun is Brahman-this is the teaching. An explanation .thereof (is this). In the beginning this (world) was non-existent. It became existent. It grew. It turned into an egg. It lay for the period of a year. It burst open. Then came out of the eggshell, two parts, one of silver, the other of gold. That which was of silver is this earth; that which was of gold is the sky. What was the outer membrane is the mountains; that which was the inner membrane is the mist with the clouds. What were the veins were the rivers. What was the fluid within is the ocean. (Chandogya Upanishad, III, 19, 1-2.)

The sage Uddalaka presents another view: in the beginning was Being alone: 1 In the beginning, my dear, this was Being alone' one only without a second. Some people say 'in the beginning this Was non- being alone, one only; without a second. From that non-being, being was produced.'
2) But how, indeed, my dear, could it be thus? said he [i.e., the sage Uddalaka], how could being be produced from non-being? On the contrary, my dear, in the beginning this was being alone, one only, without a second.
3) It thought, May I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth fire. That fire thought, May I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth water. . . .
4) That water thought, May I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth food. . . . (Chandogya Upanishad, VI, 2, 1-4.)

Katha Upanishad, Sanskrit, Grantha script, Whish Manuscript Collection

Katha Upanishad: Ancient Inner World Model of Man

The Katha Upanishad narrates a conversation between a sage by the name of Naciketas and Yama, the god of death, in which much concerning the nature of the Inner Nature of Man is presented. The following selection compares the Nature of the Inner Man with the configuration arrangement of a horse-drawn chariot.

Part of Chapter III of the Katha Upanishad reads: [Like] light and shade [there are] two [selves]
[One] here on earth imbibes the law (rta) of his own deeds:
[The other,] though hidden in the secret places [of the heart],
[Dwells] in uttermost beyond.
So say [the seers] who Brahman know,
The owners of the five fires and of the three Naciketa fires. [Source: "Hindu Scriptures", translated and edited by R.C. Zaehner (Oxford, Everymans University Library, 1966]

We may master the Naciketa fire,
[Sure] bridge for men who sacrifice,
Seeking to reach the [further] shore
Beyond the reach of fear, -
[The bridge that leads to] Brahman,
Imperishable, supreme.

Know this:
The self is the owner of the chariot,
The chariot is the body,
Soul (buddhi) is the [body's] charioteer,
Mind the reigns [that curb it].

Senses, they say, are the [chariot's] steeds,
Their object the tract before them;
What, then, is the subject of experience?
'Self, sense and mind conjoined,' wise men reply.

Katha Upanishad: Chapter I

Chapter I of The Katha Upanishad reads:
[A certain] Usan, son of Vajasravas,
gave away all his property.
He had a son called Naciketas;
And as [the cattle to be distributed as] the fee for the sacrifice performed
were being brought near,
faith entered into him, boy though he was,
and he thought:
"They drink water, eat grass, give milk, insensitive:
Joyless the worlds to which the giver of these must go!" [Source: "Hindu Scriptures", translated and edited by R.C. Zaehner (Oxford, Everymans University Library, 1966]

He said to his father,
"Daddy, to whom will you give me?"
[And he said it] a second and a third time.
His father said to him:
"I'll give you to death".

[Naciketas speaks:]
Of many the first to go.
Of many the middlemost,
What is Yama (Death) to do with me,
For today I'm his concern?

Yama Teaches Naciketas

Look back, [how fared] the first,
Look forward, [how fared] the last:
Like a corn a man grows up,
Like corn he is born again.

Like a fire a Brahman guest
Enters a house;
To appease [his fiery anger],
Bring water, [Yama,] Vivasvat's son.

[Yama, the god of death, returning after three days' absence and finding
that Naciketas has not received the hospitality due to Brahmans, says:]
Since for three nights, O Brahman, thou hast dwelt
In [this] my house, an honoured guest, [yet] nothing eating.
I now salute thee, Brahman, may it go well with me.
Three boons [I grant] thee, choose [what thou wilt].

[Naciketas speaks:]
Let my father's ill-will be stilled, let him be well disposed,
Let his anger with me melt away, O Death:
Let him greet me kindly, dismissed by thee:
Of the three boons this the first I choose.

[Yama speaks:]
Thy father, Auddalaka Aruni, as before
Will be well pleased [with thee] dismissed by me;
His anger spent, how sweet his sleep at night will be,
When he [again] beholds thee from the jaws of Death set free.

Yama on a buffalo

[Nicaketas speaks:]
In paradise there is [no such things as] fear;
Thou art not there, nor shrinks one from old age.
Hunger and thirst, these two transcending,
Sorrow, surpassing, a man makes merry in paradise.

O death, thou understand the fire that leads to paradise;
Declare it [then] to me, for I have faith:
The heavenly worlds partake of immortality;
This do I choose as my second boon.

[Yama speaks:]
This [too] I will declare to thee, - take note of it;
The fire that leads to paradise, I know it well.
Know that [this fire] can win [thee] worlds unending,
It is the ground (pratistha) [of all], hidden in secret spaces.

[And so] he told him of [this] fire, the world's beginning,
[He told him] of the firebricks, how many and how to be disposed.
And [Naciketas] repeated [all] just as he had said it:
Well satisfied with him Death spake again.

"To thee again today I grant another boon:
This fire shall bear thy name, no other;
Accept this garland variously contrived.

Who thrice performs the Naciketa rite,
With the three [Vedas] concludes a pact,
And performs the three works [prescribed],
He transcends both birth and death:
Knowing that God adorable who knows
What is Brahman born,
And realizing Him,
He attains to peace and what is absolute.

Tibetan Yama

[Yama speaks:]
Choose sons and grandsons to live a hundred years,
[Choose] wealth in cattle, horses, elephants and gold,
Choose wide property in land, and thou thyself
Live out thy years as many as thou wilt.

Or shoudst thou think this this is a boon [at all] equivalent,
Chooses riches and long life;
Be thou of the great ones in the land:
I grant to thee enjoyment of all thou canst desire!

Whatever a man could possibly desire
In [this] the world of men,
How hard to win,
Ask anything thou wilt at thy good pleasure, -
Fair women, chariots, instruments of music.
The like of these cannot be won by [other] men:-
All these things I give thee, bend them to thy service.
O naciketas, ask me no futher concerning death.

[Naciketas speaks:]
The morrows of a man, O Death, wear down
The power of all senses.
A life though [lived] entire is short indeed;
Keep [then] thy chariots, keep thy songs and dances!

With riches can a man never be satisfied:
When once we've seen thee, [how] sha;; we riches win?
So long as we'll live as thou [for us] ordainest;
This, then, is the only boon that I would claim.

What mortal man, grown old and wretched here below,
Could meet immortals, strangers to old age,
Know them, and [still] meditate on colours, pleasures, joys,
Finding [some] comfort in this life however long.

Wherein men, puzzled, doubt, O Death, [that tell us];
What [happens] at the great departing tell us!
That is the boon that's hidden in secret places:
Therefore no other [boon] doth Naciketas choose."

Katha Upanishad: Chapter II

Chapter II of The Katha Upanishad goes:
[Yama speaks:]
The better part is one thing, the agreeable another;
Though different their goals both restrict a man:
For him who takes the better of the two all's well,
But he who chooses the agreeable fails to attain his goal. [Source: "Hindu Scriptures", translated and edited by R.C. Zaehner (Oxford, Everymans University Library, 1966]

'Better' and 'agreeable' present themselves to man:
Considering them carefully the wise man discriminates,
Preferring the better to what only pleasure brings:
Dull men prefer the 'agreeable',-
For the getting and keeping [of what they crave].

Thou, Naciketas, has well considered [all objects of] desire,
[Ali] that's agreeable in form,-thou has rejected them;
Tllou wouldst not accept this garland of wealth compacted
In which how many a man has been [dragged down,] submerged ! Different, opposed, wide separated these,-
Unwisdom (avidyda) and what men as wisdom know
Wisdom [it is that] Naciketas seeks, I see;
Not thou to be distracted by rnanifold desire.

Self-wise, puffed up with learning, some
Turn round and round [emprisoned] in unwisdom['s realm];
Hither and thither rushing, round they go, the fools,
Like blind men guided by the blind !

No glimmering have such of man's last destiny,-
Unheeding, childish fools, by wealth deluded:
'This world alone exists, there is no other,' so think they;
Again and ever again they fall into my hands.

Many there are who never come to hear of Him,
Many, though hearing of Him, know Him not:
Blessed the man who, skilled therein, proclaims Him, grasps Him;
Blessed the man who learns from one so skilled and knows Him !


[Yama speaks:]
The single word announced by all the Vedas
Proclaimed by all ascetic practices,
[The word] in search of which men practise chastity
This word I tell [thee now] in brief.
Om - this is it.

The Imperishable Brahman this,
This the Imperishable Beyond (para):
Whoso this Imperishable comes to know,-
What he desires is his.

Depend on This, the best;
Depend on This, the ultimate:
Who knows that on This [alone all things] depend,
In the Brahman-world is magnified.

This wise one is not born nor dies;
From nowhere has He [sprung] nor has He anyone become;
Unborn is He, eternal, everlasting and primeval,-
He is not slain when the body is slain.

Should the killer think I kill,
Or the killed "I have been killed",
Both these have no [right] knowledge:
He kills not, is not killed.

More subtile that the subtile, greater than the great,
The Self is hidden in the heart [secret place] of creatures [here]:
The man without desitre, [all] sorrow spent, beholds It
The majesty of the Self, by the grace of the Ordainer.

Seated he strides afar,
Lying down he ranges everywhere:
This God is joy and joylessness,'-
Who but I can understand Him?

In bodies bodiless,
In things unstable still, abiding
The Self, the great Lord all pervading,-
Thinking on Him the wise man knows no grief.

Katha Upanishad: Chapter III

Chapter III of The Katha Upanishad reads: [Like] light and shade [there are] two [selves]
[One] here on earth imbibes the law (rta) of his own deeds:
[The other,] though hidden in the secret places [of the heart],
[Dwells] in uttermost beyond.
So say [the seers] who Brahman know,
The owners of the five fires and of the three Naciketa fires. [Source: "Hindu Scriptures", translated and edited by R.C. Zaehner (Oxford, Everymans University Library, 1966]

Brahma on Hamsa

Senses, they say, are the [chariot's] steeds,
Their object the tract before them;
What, then, is the subject of experience?
'Self, sense and mind conjoined,' wise men reply.
Who knows not how to discriminate
With mind undisciplined the while,-
Like vicious steeds untarned, his senses
He cannot master, -he their charioteer.

But he who does know how to discriminate
With mind [controlled and] disciplined,-
Like well-trained steeds, his senses
He masters [fully], -he their charioteer.
But he who knows not how to discriminate,
Mindless, never pure
He reaches not that [highest] state (pada), returns
To this round of never-ending birth and death (samsara).

But he who does know how to discriminate,
Mindful, always pure,
He gains [indeed] that [highest] state
From which he's never born again.

The man whose charioteer is wisdom (vijnana),
Whose reins a mind [controlled],
Reaches the journey's end [indeed],
Vishnu's final state (pada).

Higher than the senses are the [senses'] objects
Higher than these the mind
Higher than mind is soul (buddhi),
Higher than soul the self, the 'great'.

Higher than the 'great' the Unmanifest,
Higher than that the ''Person':
Than 'Person' there's nothing higher;
He is the goal, He the All-highest Way. [refuge]

This is the Self, deep-hidden in all beings,
[The Self that] shines not forth,-
Yet it can be seen by men who see things subtile,
By the subtile soul (bouddhi), [man's] noblest part.

Let the wise man hold tongue and mind in check,
Submit them to the intellectual (jnana) self;
Let him submit this intellect to the self [called] 'great',
And this to [that] Self which is [forever] still (santa).

Arisel Awakel Your boons you've won!
[Awake and] understand [them] !
A sharpened razor's edge is hard to cross,-
The dangers of the path,-wise seers proclaim them !

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Indian History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “Encyclopedia of the World's Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures: Volume 3 South Asia” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); “The Creators” by Daniel Boorstin; “A Guide to Angkor: an Introduction to the Temples” by Dawn Rooney (Asia Book) for Information on temples and architecture. National Geographic, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated December 2023

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