Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Upanishads, Part 1 (SBE01), by Max Müller, [1879], at

p. 4


1. When the Devas and Asuras 2 struggled together, both of the race of Pragâpati, the Devas took the udgîtha 3 (Om), thinking they would vanquish the Asuras with it.

2. They meditated on the udgîtha 3 (Om) as the breath (scent) in the nose 4, but the Asuras pierced it (the breath) with evil. Therefore we smell by the breath in the nose both what is good-smelling and what is bad-smelling. For the breath was pierced by evil.

3. Then they meditated on the udgîtha (Om) as speech, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore we speak both truth and falsehood. For speech is pierced by evil.

4. Then they meditated on the udgîtha (Om) as the eye, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore

p. 5

we see both what is sightly and unsightly. For the eye is pierced by evil.

5. Then they meditated on the udgîtha (Om) as the ear, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore we hear both what should be heard and what should not be heard. For the car is pierced by evil.

6. Then they meditated on the udgîtha (Om) as the mind, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore we conceive both what should be conceived and what should not be conceived. For the mind is pierced by evil.

7. Then comes this breath (of life) in the mouth 1. They meditated on the udgîtha (Om) as that breath. When the Asuras came to it, they were scattered, as (a ball of earth) would be scattered when hitting a solid stone.

8. Thus, as a ball of earth is scattered when hitting on a solid stone, will he be scattered who wishes evil to one who knows this, or who persecutes him; for he is a solid stone.

9. By it (the breath in the mouth) he distinguishes neither what is good nor what is bad-smelling, for that breath is free from evil. What we eat and drink with it supports the other vital breaths (i. e. the senses, such as smell, &c.) When at the time of death he 2 does not find that breath (in the

p. 6

mouth, through which he eats and drinks and lives), then he departs. He opens the mouth at the time of death (as if wishing to eat).

10. Aṅgiras 1 meditated on the udgîtha (Om) as that breath, and people hold it to be Aṅgiras, i. e. the essence of the members (angânâm rasah);

11. Therefore Brihaspati meditated on udgîtha (Om) as that breath, and people hold it to be Brihaspati, for speech is brihatî, and he (that breath) is the lord (pati) of speech;

12. Therefore Ayâsya meditated on the udgîtha (Om) as that breath, and people hold it to be Ayâsya, because it comes (ayati) from the mouth (âsya);

13. Therefore Vaka Dâlbhya knew it. He was the Udgâtri (singer) of the Naimishîya-sacrificers, and by singing he obtained for them their wishes.

14. He who knows this, and meditates on the syllable Om (the imperishable udgîtha) as the breath of life in the mouth, he obtains all wishes by singing. So much for the udgîtha (Om) as meditated on with reference to the body 2.


4:1 A very similar story is told in the Brihad-âranyaka I, 1, 3, 1. But though the coincidences between the two are considerable, amounting sometimes to verbal identity, the purport of the two seems to be different. See Vedânta-sûtra III, 3, 6.

4:2 Devas and Asuras, gods and demons, are here explained by the commentator as the good and evil inclinations of man; Pragâpati as man in general.

4:3 Udgîtha stands, according to the commentator, for the sacrificial act to be performed by the Udgâtri, the Sâma-veda priest, with the udgîtha hymns; and as these sacrificial acts always form part of the Gyotishtoma &c., these great Soma-sacrifices are really intended. In the second place, however, the commentator takes udgîtha in the sense of Udgâtri, the performer of the udgîtha, which is or was by the Devas thought to be the breath in the nose. I have preferred to take udgîtha in the sense of Om, and all that is implied by it.

4:4 They asked that breath should recite the udgîtha. Comm.

5:1 Mukhya prâna is used in two senses, the principal or vital breath, also called sreshtha, and the breath in the mouth, also called âsanya.

5:2 According to the commentator, the assemblage of the other vital breaths or senses is here meant. They depart when the breath of the mouth, sometimes called sarvambhari, all-supporting, does no longer, by eating and drinking, support them.

6:1 The paragraphs from 10 to 14 are differently explained by Indian commentators. By treating the nominatives aṅgirâs, brihaspatis, and ayâsyas (here the printed text reads ayâsyam) as accusatives, or by admitting the omission of an iti after them, they connect paragraphs 9, 10, and 11 with paragraph 12, and thus gain the meaning that Vaka Dâlbhya meditated on the breath in the mouth as Aṅgiras, Brihaspati, and Ayâsya, instead of those saints having themselves thus meditated; and that he, knowing the secret names and qualities of the breath, obtained, when acting as Udgâtri priest, the wishes of those for whom he sacrificed. Tena is difficult to explain, unless we take it in the sense of tenânusishtah, taught by him.

6:2 Adhyâtma means with reference to the body, not with reference to the self or the soul. Having explained the symbolical p. 7 meaning of Om as applied to the body and its organs of sense, he now explains its symbolical meaning adhidaivatam, i.e. as applied to divine beings.

Next: I, 3