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The Upanishads, Part 2 (SBE15), by Max Müller, [1879], at

p. 260


1. Some wise men, deluded, speak of Nature, and others of Time (as the cause of everything 2); but it is the greatness of God by which this Brahma-wheel is made to turn.

2. It is at the command of him who always covers this world, the knower, the time of time 3, who assumes qualities and all knowledge 4, it is at his command that this work (creation) unfolds itself, which is called earth, water, fire, air, and ether;

5. He who, after he has done that work and rested again, and after he has brought together one essence (the self) with the other (matter), with one, two, three, or eight, with time also and with the subtile qualities of the mind,

4. Who, after starting 6 the works endowed with (the three) qualities, can order all things, yet when, in the absence of all these, he has caused the destruction of the work, goes on, being in truth 7 different (from all he has produced);

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5. He is the beginning, producing the causes which unite (the soul with the body), and, being

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above the three kinds of time (past, present, future), he is seen as without parts 1, after we have first worshipped that adorable god, who has many forms, and who is the true source (of all things), as dwelling in our own mind.

6. He is beyond all the forms of the tree 2 (of the world) and of time, he is the other, from whom this world moves round, when 3 one has known him who

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brings good and removes evil, the lord of bliss, as dwelling within the self, the immortal, the support of all.

7. Let us know that highest great lord of lords 1, the highest deity of deities, the master of masters, the highest above, as god, the lord of the world, the adorable.

8. There is no effect and no cause known of him, no one is seen like unto him or better; his high power is revealed as manifold, as inherent, acting as force and knowledge.

9. There is no master of his in the world, no ruler of his, not even a sign of him 2. He is the cause, the lord of the lords of the organs 3, and there is of him neither parent nor lord.

10. That only god who spontaneously covered himself, like a spider, with threads drawn from the first cause (pradhâna), grant us entrance into Brahman 4.

11. He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading,

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the self within all beings, watching over all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver 1, the only one, free from qualities.

12 2. He is the one ruler of many who (seem to act, but really do) not act 3; he makes the one seed manifold. The wise who perceive him within their self, to them belongs eternal happiness, not to others.

13 4. He is the eternal among eternals, the thinker among thinkers, who, though one, fulfils the desires of many. He who has known that cause which is to be apprehended by Sâṅkhya (philosophy) and Yoga (religious discipline), he is freed from all fetters.

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14. The 1 sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these lightnings, and much less this fire. When he shines, everything shines after him; by his light all this is lightened.

15. He is the one bird 2 in the midst of the world; he is also (like) the fire (of the sun) that has set in the ocean. A man who knows him truly, passes over death 3; there is no other path to go.

16. He makes all, he knows all, the self-caused, the knower 4, the time of time (destroyer of time), who assumes qualities and knows everything, the master of nature and of man 5, the lord of the three qualities (guna), the cause of the bondage, the existence, and the liberation of the world 6.

17. He who has become that 7, he is the immortal, remaining the lord, the knower, the ever-present guardian of this world, who rules this world for ever, for no one else is able to rule it.

18. Seeking for freedom I go for refuge to that God who is the light of his own thoughts 8, he who

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first creates Brahman (m.) 1 and delivers the Vedas to him;

19. Who is without parts, without actions, tranquil, without fault, without taint 2, the highest bridge to immortality--like a fire that has consumed its fuel.

20. Only when men shall roll up the sky like a hide, will there be an end of misery, unless God has first been known 3.

21. Through the power of his penance and through the grace of God 4 has the wise Svetâsvatara truly 5 proclaimed Brahman, the highest and holiest, to the best of ascetics 6, as approved by the company of Rishis.

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22. This highest mystery in the Vedânta, delivered in a former age, should not be given to one whose passions have not been subdued, nor to one who is not a son, or who is not a pupil 1.

23. If these truths have been told to a high-minded man, who feels the highest devotion for God, and for his Guru as for God, then they will shine forth,--then they will shine forth indeed.


260:1 See Muir, Metrical Translations, p. 198.

260:2 See before, 1, 2.

260:3 The destroyer of time. Vigñânâtman reads kâlâkâlo, and explains it by kâlasya niyantâ, upahartâ. Saṅkarânanda explains kâlah sarvavinâsakârî, tasyâpi vinâsakarah. See also verse 16.

260:4 Or sarvavid yah.

260:5 Instead of vinivartya, Vigñânâtman and Saṅkarânanda read vinivritya.

260:6 Âruhya for ârabhya, Saṅkarânanda.

260:7 These two verses are again extremely obscure, and the explanations of the commentators throw little light on their real, original meaning. To begin with Saṅkara, he assumes the subject to be the same as he at whose command this work unfolds itself, and explains p. 261 tattvasya tattvena sametya yogam by âtmano bhûmyâdinâ yogam samgamayya. As the eight Tattvas he gives earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, thought, personality, while the Âtmagunas are, according to him, the affections of the mind, love, anger, &c. In the second verse, however, Saṅkara seems to assume a different subject. 'If a man,' he says, 'having done works, infected by qualities, should transfer them on Îsvara, the Lord, there would be destruction of the works formerly done by him, because there would be no more connection with the self.' Something is left out, but that this is Saṅkara's idea, appears from the verses which he quotes in support, and which are intended to show that Yogins, transferring all their acts, good, bad, or indifferent, on Brahman, are no longer affected by them. 'That person,' Saṅkara, continues, 'his works being destroyed and his nature purified, moves on, different from all things (tattva), from all the results of ignorance, knowing himself to be Brahman.' 'Or,' he adds, 'if we read anyad, it means, he goes to that Brahman which is different from all things.'

Saṅkarânanda takes a different view. He says: 'If a man has performed sacrifices, and has finished them, or, has turned away from them again as vain, and if he has obtained union with that which is the real of the (apparently) real, &c.' The commentator then asks what is that with which he obtains union, and replies, 'the one, i.e. ignorance; the two, i.e. right and wrong; the three, i.e. the three colours, red, white, and black; and the eight, i.e. the five elements, with mind, thought, and personality; also with time, and with the subtile affections of the mind.' He then goes on, 'If that man, after having begun qualified works, should take on himself all states (resulting from ignorance), yet, when these states cease, there would be an end of the work, good or bad, done by him, and when his work has come to an end, he abides in truth (according to the Veda); while the other, who differs from the Veda, is wrong.' Saṅkarânanda, however, evidently feels that this is a doubtful interpretation, and he suggests another, viz. 'If the Lord himself,' he says, 'determined these states (bhâva), it would seem that there would be no end of samsâra. He therefore says, that when these states, ignorance &c., cease, the work done by man ceases; and when the work done ceases, the living soul gets free of samsâra, being in truth another, i.e. different from ignorance and its products.'

Vigñânâtman says: 'If a man, having done work, turns away p. 262 from it, and obtains union of one tattva (the tvam, or self) with the real tattva (the tat, or the Lord);--and how? By means of the one, i.e. the teaching of the Guru; the two, i.e. love of the Guru and of the Lord; the three, i.e. hearing, remembering, and meditating; the eight, i.e. restraint, penance, postures, regulation of the breath, abstraction, devotion, contemplation, and meditation (Yoga-sûtras II, 2 9); by time, i.e. the right time for work; by the qualities of the self, i.e. pity, &c.; by the subtile ones, i.e. the good dispositions for knowledge, then (we must supply) he becomes free.' And this he explains more fully in the next verse. 'If, after having done qualified works, i.e. works to please the Lord, a Yati discards all things, and recognises the phenomenal character of all states, and traces them back to their real source in Mûlaprakriti and, in the end, in the Sakkidânanda, he becomes free. If they (the states) cease, i.e. are known in their real source, the work done ceases also in its effects, and when the work has been annihilated, he goes to freedom, being another in truth; or, if we read anyat, he goes to what is different from all these things, namely, to the Lord; or, he goes to a state of perfect lordship in truth, having discovered the highest truth, the oneness of the self with the Highest Self.'

I think that, judging from the context, the subject is really the same in both verses, viz. the Lord, as passing through different states, and at last knowing himself to be above them all. Yet, the other explanations may be defended, and if the subject were taken to be different in each verse, some difficulties would disappear.

262:1 Vigñânâtman and Saṅkarânanda read akalo 'pi, without parts, and Saṅkara, too, presupposes that reading, though the text is corrupt in Roer's edition.

262:2 Explained as samsâravriksha, the world-tree, as described in the Katha Up. VI, 1.

262:3 It seems possible to translate this verse in analogy with the former, and without supplying the verb either from yâti, in verse 4, p. 263 or from vidâma, in verse 7. The poet seems to have said, he is that, he is seen as that, when one has worshipped him, or when one has known him within oneself.

263:1 Saṅkara thinks that the lords are Vaivasvata &c.; the deities, Indra &c.; the masters, the Pragâpatis. Vigñânâtman explains the lords as Brahman, Vishnu, Rudra, &c.; the deities as Indra, &c.; the masters as Hiranyagarbha, &c. Saṅkarânanda sees in the lords Hiranyagarbha &c., in the deities Agni &c., in the masters the Pragâpatis, such as Kasyapa.

263:2 If he could be inferred from a sign, there would be no necessity for the Veda to reveal him.

263:3 Karana, instrument, is explained as organ of sense. The lords of such organs would be all living beings, and their lord the true Lord.

263:4 Besides brahmâpyayam, i.e. brahmany apyayam, ekîbhâvam, another reading is brahmâvyayam, i.e. brahma kâvyayam ka.

264:1 All the MSS. seem to read ketâ, not kettâ.

264:2 See Katha-upanishad V, 12-15.

264:3 Saṅkara explains that the acts of living beings are due to their organs, but do not affect the Highest Self, which always remains passive (nishkriya).

264:4 I have formerly translated this verse, according to the reading nityo 'nityânâm ketanas ketanânâm, the eternal thinker of non-eternal thoughts. This would be a true description of the Highest Self who, though himself eternal and passive, has to think (gîvâtman) non-eternal thoughts. I took the first ketanah in the sense of kettâ, the second in the sense of ketanam. The. commentators, however, take a different, and it may be, from their point, a more correct view. Saṅkara says: 'He is the eternal of the eternals, i.e. as he possesses eternity among living souls (gîvas), these living souls also may claim eternity. Or the eternals may be meant for earth, water, &c. And in the same way he is the thinker among thinkers.'

Saṅkarânanda says: 'He is eternal, imperishable, among eternal, imperishable things, such as the ether, &c. He is thinking among thinkers!

Vigñânâtman says: 'The Highest Lord is the cause of eternity in eternal things on earth, and the cause of thought in the thinkers on earth.' But he allows another construction, namely, that he is the eternal thinker of those who on earth are endowed with eternity and thought. In the end all these interpretations come to p. 265 the same, viz. that there is only one eternal, and only one thinker, from whom all that is (or seems to be) eternal and all that is thought on earth is derived.

265:1 See Kath. Up. V, 15; Mund. Up. II, 2, 10; Bhagavadgîtâ XV, 6.

265:2 Hamsa, frequently used for the Highest Self, is explained here as hanty avidyâdibandhakâranam iti hamsah.

265:3 Cf. III, 8.

265:4 Again the MSS. read kâlakâlo, as in verse 2. They also agree in putting gñah before kâlakâlo, as in verse 2.

265:5 Pradhânam avyaktam, kshetragño vigñânâtmâ.

265:6 He binds, sustains, and dissolves worldly existence.

265:7 He who seems to exist for a time in the form of kshetragña and pradhâna.

265:8 The MSS. vary between âtmabuddhiprakâsam and âtmabuddhiprasâdam. The former reading is here explained by Saṅkarânanda as svabuddhisâkshinam.

266:1 Explained as Hiranyagarbha.

266:2 Nirañganam nirlepam.

266:3 Saṅkarânanda reads tadâ sivam avigñâya duhkhasyânto bhavishyati; Vigñânâtman retains devam but mentions sivam as a various reading. Both have anto, not antam, like Roer. Saṅkara seems to have found na before bhavishyati, or to have read duhkhânto na bhavishyati, for he explains that there will be no end of misery, unless God has first been known. It is possible, however, that the same idea may be expressed in the text as we read it, so that it should mean, Only when the impossible shall happen, such as the sky being rolled up by men, will misery cease, unless God has been discovered in the heart.

266:4 The MSS, read devaprasâdât, which is more in keeping with the character of this Upanishad.

266:5 Samyak may be both adverb and adjective in this sentence, kâkâkshinyâyena.

266:6 Atyâsramin is explained by Saṅkara as atyantam pûgyatamâsramibhyah; and he adds, katurvidhâ bhikshavas ka bahûdakakutîkakau, Hamsah paramahamsas ka yo yah paskât sa uttamah. Weber (Indische Studien, II, 109) has himself corrected his mistake of reading antyâsramibhyah, and translating it by neighbouring hermits.

These four stages in the life of a Sannyâsin are the same to-day as they were in the time of the Upanishads, and Dayânanda Sarasvatî p. 267 describes them in his autobiography, though in a different order: 1. Kutîkaka, living in a hut, or in a desolate place, and wearing a red-ochre coloured garment, carrying a three-knotted bamboo rod, and wearing the hair in the centre of the crown of the head, having the sacred thread, and devoting oneself to the contemplation of Parabrahma. 2. Bahûdaka, one who lives quite apart from his family and the world, maintains himself on alms collected at seven houses, and wears the same kind of reddish garment. 3. Hamsa, the same as in the preceding case, except the carrying of only a one-knotted bamboo. 4. Paramahamsa, the same as the others; but the ascetic wears the sacred thread, and his hair and beard are quite long. This is the highest of all orders. A Paramahamsa who shows himself worthy is on the very threshold of becoming a Dîkshita.

267:1 Cf. Brih. Up. VI, 3, 12; Maitr. Up. VI, 2 9.

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