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

p. 228 p. 229 p. 230 p. 231



1. The Brahma-students say: Is Brahman the cause 1? Whence are we born? Whereby do we live, and whither do we go? O ye who know Brahman, (tell us) at whose command we abide, whether in pain or in pleasure?

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2. Should time, or nature 1, or necessity, or chance, or the elements be considered as the cause, or he who is called the person (purusha, vigñânâtmâ)? It cannot be their union either, because that is not self-dependent 2, and the self also is powerless, because there is (independent of him) a cause of good and evil 3.

3. The sages, devoted to meditation and concentration, have seen the power belonging to God himself 4, hidden in its own qualities (guna). He, being one, superintends all those causes, time, self, and the rest 5.

6. We meditate on him who (like a wheel) has one felly with three tires, sixteen ends, fifty spokes, with twenty counter-spokes, and six sets of eight;

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whose one rope is manifold, who proceeds on three different roads, and whose illusion arises from two causes.

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1. We meditate on the river whose water consists of the five streams, which is wild and winding with its five springs, whose waves are the five vital breaths, whose fountain head is the mind, the course of the five kinds of perceptions. It has five whirlpools, its rapids are the five pains; it has fifty kinds of suffering, and five branches.

6. In that vast Brahma-wheel, in which all things live and rest, the bird flutters about, so long as he thinks that the self (in him) is different from the mover (the god, the lord). When he has been blessed by him, then he gains immortality 2.

7. But what is praised (in the Upanishads) is the

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[paragraph continues] Highest Brahman, and in it there is the triad 1. The Highest Brahman is the safe support, it is imperishable. The Brahma-students 2, when they have known what is within this (world), are devoted and merged in the Brahman, free from birth 3.

8. The Lord (îsa) supports all this together, the perishable and the imperishable, the developed and the undeveloped. The (living) self, not being a lord, is bound 4, because he has to enjoy (the fruits of works); but when he has known the god (deva), he is freed from all fetters.

9. There are two, one knowing (îsvara), the other not-knowing (gîva), both unborn, one strong, the other weak 5; there is she, the unborn, through whom each man receives the recompense of his works 6; and there is the infinite Self (appearing) under all forms, but himself inactive. When a man finds out these three, that is Brahma 7.

10. That which is perishable 8 is the Pradhâna 9 (the first), the immortal and imperishable is Hara 10.

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[paragraph continues] The one god rules the perishable (the pradhâna) and the (living) self 1. From meditating on him, from joining him, from becoming one with him there is further cessation of all illusion in the end.

11. When that god is known, all fetters fall off, sufferings are destroyed, and birth and death cease. From meditating on him there arises, on the dissolution of the body, the third state, that of universal lordship 2; but he only who is alone, is satisfied 3.

12. This, which rests eternally within the self, should be known; and beyond this not anything has to be known. By knowing the enjoyer 4, the enjoyed, and the ruler, everything has been declared to be threefold, and this is Brahman.

13. As the form of fire, while it exists in the under-wood 5, is not seen, nor is its seed destroyed,

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but it has to be seized again and again by means of the stick and the under-wood, so it is in both cases, and the Self has to be seized in the body by means of the pranava (the syllable Om).

14. By making his body the under-wood, and the syllable Om the upper-wood, man, after repeating the drill of meditation, will perceive the bright god, like the spark hidden in the wood 1.

15. As oil in seeds, as butter in cream, as water in (dry) river-beds 2, as fire in wood, so is the Self seized within the self, if man looks for him by truthfulness and penance 3;

16. (If he looks) for the Self that pervades everything, as butter is contained in milk, and the roots whereof are self-knowledge and penance. That is the Brahman taught by the Upanishad.


231:1 This translation seems the one which Saṅkara himself prefers, for on p. 277, when recapitulating, he says, kim brahma kâranam âhosvit kâlâdi. In comparing former translations, whether by Weber, Roer, Gough, and others, it will be seen that my own differs considerably from every one of them, and differs equally from Saṅkara's interpretation. It would occupy too much space to criticise former translations, nor would it seem fair, considering how long ago they were made, and how imperfect were the materials which were then accessible. All I wish my readers to understand is that, if I differ from my predecessors, I do so after having carefully examined their renderings. Unfortunately, Roer's edition of both the text and the commentary is often far from correct. Thus in the very first verse of the Svetâsvatara-upanishad, I think we ought to read sampratishthâh, instead of sampratishthitâh. In the commentary the reading is right. Vyavasyâm is a misprint for vyavasthâm. In the second verse we must separate kâlah and svabhâvah. Yadrikhhâ no very unusual word, meaning chance, was formerly taken for a name of the moon! Instead of na tvâtmabhâvât, both sense and metre require that we should read anâtmabhâvât, though the commentators take a different view. They say, because there is a self, and then go on to say that even that would not suffice. Such matters, however, belong to a critical commentary on the Upanishads rather than to a translation, and I can refer to them in cases of absolute necessity only, and where the readings of the two MSS., A. and B, seem to offer some help.

232:1 Svabhâva, their own nature or independent character.

232:2 Union presupposes a uniter.

232:3 Âtmâ is explained by Saṅkara as the gîvah, the living self, and as that living self is in his present state determined by karman, work belonging to a former existence, it cannot be thought of as an independent cause.

232:4 Devâtmasakti is a very important term, differently explained by the commentators, but meaning a power belonging to the Deva, the Îsvara, the Lord, not independent of him, as the Sâṅkhyas represent Prakriti or nature. Herein lies the important distinction between Vedanta and Sânkhya.

232:5 Kâlâtmabhyâm yuktâni, kâlapurushasamyuktâni svabhâvâdini. Âtman is here taken as synonymous with purusha in verse 2.

232:6 It is difficult to say whether this verse was written as a summing up of certain technicalities recognised in systems of philosophy existing at the time, or whether it is a mere play of fancy. I prefer the former view, and subjoin the explanation given by Saṅkara, though it is quite possible that on certain points he may be mistaken. The Îsvara or deva is represented as a wheel with one felly, which would seem to be the phenomenal world. It is called trivrit, threefold, or rather having three tires, three bands or hoops to bind the felly, these tires being intended for the three gunas of the prakriti, the Sattva, Ragas, and Tamas. In the Brahmopanishad (Bibl. Ind. p. 233 p. 251) the trivrit sûtram is mentioned. Next follows shodasântam, ending in the sixteen. These sixteen are differently explained. They may be meant for the five elements and the eleven indriyas or organs (the five receptive and the five active senses, together with manas, the common sensory); or for the sixteen kalâs, mentioned in the Prasñopanishad, VI, 1, p. 283. Then follows a new interpretation. The one felly may be meant for the chaos, the undeveloped state of things, and the sixteen would then be the two products in a general form, the Virâg and the Sûtrâtman, while the remaining fourteen would be the individual products, the bhuvanas or worlds beginning with Bhûh.

Next follows satârdhâram, having fifty spokes. These fifty spokes are supposed to produce the motion of the mundane wheel, and are explained by Saṅkara as follows:

1. The five Viparyayas, misconceptions, different kinds of ignorance or doubt, viz. Tamas, Moha, Mahâmoha, Tâmisra, Andhatâmisra, or, according to Patañgali, ignorance, self-love, love, hatred, and fear (Yoga-sûtras I, 8; II, 2; Sâṅkhya-sûtras III, 37).

2. The twenty-eight Asaktis, disabilities, causes of misconception. (See Sâṅkhya-sûtras III, 38.)

3. The nine inversions of the Tushtis, satisfactions. (Sâṅkhya-sûtras III, 39.)

4. The eight inversions of the Siddhis, perfections. (Sâṅkhya-sûtras III, 40.)

These are afterwards explained singly. There are 8 kinds of Tamas, 8 kinds of Moha, 10 kinds of Mahâmoha, 18 kinds of Tâmisra, and 18 kinds of Andhatâmisra, making 62 in all. More information on the Asaktis, the Tushtis, and Siddhis may be found in the Sâṅkhya-sûtras III, 37-45; Sâṅkhya-kârikâ 47 seq.; Yoga-sûtras II, 2 seq.

Then follow the 20 pratyaras, the counter-spokes, or wedges to strengthen the spokes, viz. the 10 senses and their 10 objects.

The six ashtakas or ogdoads are explained as the ogdoads of Prakriti, of substances (dhâtu), of powers (aisvarya), of states (bhâva), of gods (deva), of virtues (âtmaguna).

The one, though manifold cord, is love or desire, Kâma, whether of food, children, heaven or anything else.

The three paths are explained as righteousness, unrighteousness, p. 234 and knowledge, and the one deception arising from two causes is ignorance of self, produced by good or bad works.

234:1 Here again, where the Îsvara is likened to a stream, the minute coincidences are explained by Saṅkara in accordance with certain systems of philosophy. The five streams are the five receptive organs, the five springs are the five elements, the five waves are the five active organs. The head is the manas, the mind, or common sensory, from which the perceptions of the five senses spring. The five whirlpools are the objects of the five senses, the five rapids are the five pains of being in the womb, being born, growing old, growing ill, and dying. The next adjective pañkâsadbhedâm is not fully explained by Saṅkara. He only mentions the five divisions of the klesa (see Yoga-sûtras II, 2), but does not show how their number is raised to fifty. Dr. Roer proposes to read pañkaklesa-bhedâm, but that would not agree with the metre. The five parvans or branches are not explained, and may refer to the fifty kinds of suffering (klesa). The whole river, like the wheel in the preceding verse, is meant for the Brahman as kâryakâranâtmaka, in the form of cause and effect, as the phenomenal, not the absolutely real world.

234:2 If he has been blessed by the Îsvara, i.e. when he has been accepted by the Lord, when he has discovered his own true self in the Lord. It must be remembered, however, that both the Îsvara, the Lord, and the purusha, the individual soul, are phenomenal only, and that the Brahma-wheel is meant for the prapañka, the manifest, but unreal world.

235:1 The subject (bhoktri), the object (bhogya), and the mover (preritri), see verse 12.

235:2 B. has Vedavido, those who know the Vedas.

235:3 Tasmin pralîyate tv âtmâ samâdhih sa udâhritah.

235:4 Read badhyate for budhyate.

235:5 The form îsanîsau is explained as khândasa; likewise brahmam for brahma.

235:6 Cf. Svet. Up. IV, 5, bhuktabhogyâm.

235:7 The three are (1) the lord, the personal god, the creator and ruler; (2) the individual soul or souls; and (3) the power of creation, the devâtmasakti of verse 3. All three are contained in Brahman; see verses 7, 12. So 'pi mâyî paramesvaro mâyopâdhisannidhes tadvân iva.

235:8 See verse 8.

235:9 The recognised name for Prakriti, or here Devâtmasakti, in the later Sâṅkhya philosophy.

235:10 Hara, one of the names of Siva or Rudra, is here explained as p. 236 avidyâder haranât, taking away ignorance. He would seem to be meant for the Îsvara or deva, the one god, though immediately afterwards he is taken for the true Brahman, and not for its phenomenal divine personification only.

236:1 The self, Âtman, used here, as before, for purusha, the individual soul, or rather the individual souls.

236:2 A blissful state in the Brahma-world, which, however, is not yet perfect freedom, but may lead on to it. Thus it is said in the Sivadharmottara:

Dhyânâd aisvaryam, atulam aisvaryât sukham uttamam,
Gñânena tat parityagya videho muktim âpnuyât.

236:3 This alone-ness, kevalatvam, is produced by the knowledge that the individual self is one with the divine self, and that both the individual and the divine self are only phenomenal forms of the true Self, the Brahman.

236:4 Bhoktâ, possibly for bhoktrâ, unless it is a Khândasa form. It was quoted before, Bibl. Ind. p. 292, l. 5. The enjoyer is the purusha, the individual soul, the subject; the enjoyed is prakriti, nature, the object; and the ruler is the Îsvara, that is, Brahman, as god. I take brahmam etat in the same sense here as in verse 9.

236:5 This metaphor, like most philosophical metaphors in Sanskrit, p. 237 is rather obscure at first sight, but very exact when once understood. Fire, as produced by a fire drill, is compared to the Self. It is not seen at first, yet it must be there all the time; its liṅga or subtle body cannot have been destroyed, because as soon as the stick, the indhana, is drilled in the under-wood, the yoni, the fire becomes visible. In the same way the Self, though invisible during a state of ignorance, is there all the time, and is perceived when the body has been drilled by the Pranava, that is, after, by a constant repetition of the sacred syllable Om, the body has been subdued, and the ecstatic vision of the Self has been achieved.

Indhana, the stick used for drilling, and yoni, the under-wood, in which the stick is drilled, are the two aranis, the fire-sticks used for kindling fire. See Tylor, Anthropology, p. 260.

237:1 Cf. Dhyânavindûpan. verse 20; Brahmopanishad, p. 256.

237:2 Srotas, a stream, seems to mean here the dry bed of a stream, which, if dug into, will yield water.

237:3 The construction is correct, if we remember that he who is seized is the same as he who looks for the hidden Self. But the metre would be much improved if we accepted the reading of the Brahmopanishad, evam âtmâ âtmani grihyate 'sau, which is confirmed by B. The last line would be improved by reading, satyenainam ye 'nupasyanti dhîrâh.

Next: Adhyâya II