Brihadaranyaka Upanishad part 11
IV-iv-1: When this self becomes weak and senseless,
as it were, the organs come to it. Completely withdrawing these
particles of light, it comes to the heart. When the presiding deity of
the eye turns back from all sides, the man fails to notice colour.
IV-iv-2: (The eye) becomes united (with the subtle body); then people
say, ‘He does not see’. (The nose) becomes united; then they say, ‘He
does not smell’. (The tongue) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does
not taste’. (The vocal Organ) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does
not speak’. (The ear) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not hear’.
(The Manas) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not think’. (The
skin) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not touch’. (The
intellect) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not know’. The top of
the heart brightens. Through that brightened top the self departs,
either through the eye, or through the head, or through any other part
of the body. When it departs, the vital force follows; when the vital
force departs, all the organs follow. Then the self has particular
consciousness, and goes to the body which is related to that
consciousness. It is followed by knowledge, work and past experience.
IV-iv-3: Just as a leech supported on a straw goes to the end of it,
takes hold of another support and contracts itself, so does the self
throw this body aside – make it senseless – take hold of another
support, and contract itself.
IV-iv-4: Just as a goldsmith takes apart a little quantity of gold
and fashions another – a newer and better – form, so does the self throw
this body away, or make it senseless, and make another – a newer and
better – form suited to the manes or the celestial minstrels, or the
gods, or Viraj, or Hiranyagarbha, or other beings.
IV-iv-5: That self is indeed Brahman, as also identified with the
intellect, the Manas and the vital force, with the eyes and ears, with
earth, water, air and the ether, with fire, and what is other than fire,
with desire and the absence of desire, with anger and the absence of
anger, with righteousness and unrighteousness, with everything
-–identified, in fact, with this (what is perceived) and with that (what
is inferred). As it does and acts, so it becomes; by doing good it
becomes good, and by doing evil it becomes evil – it becomes virtuous
through good acts and vicious through evil acts. Others, however, say,
‘The self is identified with desire alone. What it desires, it resolves;
what it resolves, it works out; and what it works out, it attains.’
IV-iv-6: Regarding this there is the following pithy verse: ‘Being
attached he, together with the work, attains that result to which his
subtle body or mind is attached. Exhausting the results of whatever work
he did in this life, he returns from that world to this for (fresh)
work’. Thus does the man who desires (transmigrate). But the man who
does not desire (never transmigrates). Of him who is without desires,
who is free from desires, the objects of whose desire have been
attained, and to whom all objects of desire are but the Self – the
organs do not depart. Being but Brahman, he is merged in Brahman.
IV-iv-7: Regarding this there is this pithy verse: ‘When all the
desires that dwell in his heart (mind) are gone, then he, having been
mortal, becomes immortal, and attains Brahman in this very body’. Just
as the lifeless Slough of a snake is cast off and lies in the ant-hill,
so does this body lie. Then the self becomes disembodied and immortal,
(becomes) the Prana (Supreme Self), Brahman, the Light. ‘I give you a
thousand (cows), sir’, said Janaka, Emperor of Videha.
IV-iv-8: Regarding this there are the following pithy verses: the
subtle, extensive, ancient way has touched (been reached by) me. (Nay) I
have realised it myself. Through that sages – the knowers of Brahman –
(also) go to the heavenly sphere (liberation) after the fall of this
body, being freed (even while living).
IV-iv-9: Some speak of it as white, others as blue, grey, green, or
red. This path is realised by a Brahmana (knower of Brahman). Any other
knower of Brahman who has done good deeds and is identified with the
Supreme Light, (also) treads this path.
IV-iv-10: Into blinding darkness (ignorance) enter those who worship
ignorance (rites). Into greater darkness, as it were, than that enter
those who are devoted to knowledge (the ceremonial portion of the
IV-iv-11: Miserable are those worlds enveloped by (that) blinding
darkness (ignorance). To them, after death, go those people who are
ignorant and unwise.
IV-iv-12: If a man knows the Self as ‘I am this’, then desiring what
and for whose sake will he suffer in the wake of the body ?
IV-iv-13: He who has realised and intimately known the Self that has
entered this perilous and inaccessible place (the body), is the maker of
the universe, for he is the maker of all, (all is) his Self, and he
again is indeed the Self (of all).
IV-iv-14: Being in this very body we have somehow known that
(Brahman). If not, (I should have been) ignorant, (and) great
destruction (would have taken place). Those who know It become immortal,
while others attain misery alone.
IV-iv-15: When a man after (receiving instructions from a teacher)
directly realises this effulgent Self, the Lord of all that has been and
will be, he no longer wishes to hide himself from it.
IV-iv-16: Below which the year with its days rotates, upon that
immortal Light of all lights the gods meditate as longevity.
IV-iv-17: That in which the five groups of five and the (subtle)
ether are placed, that very Atman I regard as the immortal Brahman.
Knowing (Brahman) I am immortal.
IV-iv-18: Those who have known the Vital Force of the vital force,
the Eye of the eye, the Ear of the ear, and the Mind of the mind, have
realised the ancient, primordial Brahman.
IV-iv-19: Through the mind alone (It) is to be realised. There is no
difference whatsoever in It. He goes from death to death, who sees
difference, as it were, in It.
IV-iv-20: It should be realised in one form only, (for) It is
unknowable and eternal. The Self is taintless, beyond the (subtle)
ether, birthless, infinite and constant.
IV-iv-21: The intelligent aspirant after Brahman, knowing about this
alone, should attain intuitive knowledge. (He) should not think of too
many words, for it is particularly fatiguing to the organ of speech.
IV-iv-22: That great, birthless Self which is identified with the
intellect and is in the midst of the organs, lies in the ether that is
within the heart. It is the controller of all, the lord of all, the
ruler of all. It does not grow better through good work nor worse
through bad work. It is the lord of all, It is the ruler of all beings,
It is the protector of all beings. It is the bank that serves as the
boundary to keep the different worlds apart. The Brahmanas seek to know
It through the study of the Vedas, sacrifices, charity, and austerity
consisting in a dispassionate enjoyment of sense-objects. Knowing It
alone, one becomes a sage. Desiring this world (the Self) alone, monks
renounce their homes. This is (the reason for it); The ancient sages, it
is said, did not desire children (thinking), ‘What shall we achieve
through children, we who have attained this Self, this world (result).’
They, it is said, renounced their desire for sons, for wealth and for
the worlds, and lived a mendicant’s life. That which is the desire for
sons is the desire for wealth, and that which is the desire for wealth
is the desire for worlds, for both these are but desires. This self is
That which has been described as ‘Not this, Not this’. It is
imperceptible, for It is never perceived; undecaying, for It never
decays; unattached, for It is never attached; unfettered – It never
feels pain, and never suffers injury. (it is but proper) that the sage
is never overtaken by these two thoughts, ‘I did an evil act for this’,
‘I did a good act for this’. He conquers both of them. Things done or
not done do not trouble him.
IV-iv-23: This has been expressed by the following hymn: This is the
eternal glory of a knower of Brahman: it neither increases nor decreases
through work. (Therefore) one should know the nature of that alone.
Knowing it one is not touched by evil action. Therefore he who knows it
as such becomes self-controlled, calm, withdrawn into himself, enduring
and concentrated, and sees the self in his own self (body); he sees all
as the Self. Evil does not overtake him, but he transcends all evil.
Evil does not trouble him, (but) he consumes all evil. He becomes
sinless, taintless, free from doubts, and a Brahmana (knower of
Brahman). This is the world of Brahman, O Emperor, and you have attained
it – said Yajnavalkya. ‘I give you sir, the empire of Videha, and myself
too with it, to wait upon you’.
IV-iv-24: That great, birthless Self is the eater of food and the
giver of wealth (the fruits of one’s work). He who knows It as such
receives wealth (those fruits).
IV-iv-25: That great, birthless Self is undecaying, immortal,
undying, fearless and Brahman (infinite). Brahman is indeed fearless. He
who knows It as such certainly becomes the fearless Brahman.
IV-v-1: Now Yajnavalkya had two wives, Maitreyi and
Katyayani. Of these Maitreyi used to discuss Brahman, (while) Katyayani
had then only an essentially feminine outlook. One day Yajnavalkya, with
a view to embracing life –
IV-v-2: ‘O Maitreyi, my dear’, said Yajnavalkya, ‘I am going to
renounce this life for monasticism. Allow me to finish between you and
IV-v-3: Thereupon Maitreyi said, ‘Sir, if indeed this whole earth
full of wealth be mine, shall I be immortal through that, or not ?’
‘No’, replied Yajnavalkya, ‘your life will be just like that of people
who possess plenty of things, but there is no hope of immortality
IV-v-4: Then Maitreyi said, ‘What shall I do with that which will not
make me immortal ? Tell me, sir, of that alone which you know (to be the
only means of immortality).’
IV-v-5: Yajnavalkya said, ‘My dear, you have been my beloved (even
before), and you have magnified what is after my heart. If you wish, my
dear, I will explain it to you. As I explain it, meditate (upon its
IV-v-6: He said: ‘It is not for the sake of the husband, my dear,
that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved. It is not for
the sake of the wife, my dear, that she is loved, but for one’s own sake
that she is loved. It is not for the sake of the sons, my dear, that
they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is not
for the sake of wealth, my dear, that it is loved, but for one’s own
sake that it is loved. It is not for the sake of the Brahmana, my dear,
that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved. It is not for
the sake of the Kshatriya, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own
sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of worlds, my dear, that
they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is not
for the sake of the gods, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s
own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of beings, my dear,
that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is
not for the sake of all, my dear, that all is loved, but for one’s own
sake that it is loved. The Self, my dear Maitreyi, should be realised –
should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. When the Self, my
dear, is realised by being heard of, reflected on and meditated upon,
all this is known.
IV-v-7: The Brahmana ousts (slights) one who knows him as different
from the Self. The Kshatriya ousts one who knows him as different from
the Self. Worlds oust one who knows them as different from the Self. The
gods oust one who knows them as different from the Self. The Vedas oust
one who knows them as different from the Self. Beings oust one who knows
them as different from the Self. All ousts one who knows it as different
from the Self. This Brahmana, this Kshatriya, these worlds, these gods,
these Vedas, these beings and these all -- are this Self.
IV-v-8: As, when a drum is beaten, one cannot distinguish its various
particular notes, but they are included in the general note of the drum
or in the general sound produced by different kinds of strokes.
IV-v-9: As, when a conch is blown, one cannot distinguish its various
particular notes, but they are included in the general note of the conch
or in the general sound produced by different kinds of playing.
IV-v-10: As, when a Vina is played, one cannot distinguish its
various particular notes, but they are included in the general note of
the Vina or in the general sound produced by different kinds of playing.
IV-v-11: As from a fire kindled with wet faggot diverse kinds of
smoke issue, even so, my dear, the Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda,
Atharvangirasa, history, mythology, arts, Upanishads, pithy verses,
aphorisms, elucidations, explanations, sacrifices, oblations in the
fire, food, drink, this world, the next world and all beings are (like)
the breath of this infinite Reality. They are like the breath of this
IV-v-12: As the ocean is the one goal of all sorts of water, as the
skin is the one goal of all kinds of touch, as the nostrils are the one
goal of all odours, as the tongue is the one goal of all savours, as the
eye is the one goal of all colours , as the ear is the one goal of all
sounds, as the Manas is the one goal of all deliberations, as the
intellect is the one goal of all kinds of knowledge, as the hands are
the one goal of all sort of work, as the organ of generation is the one
goal of all kinds of enjoyment, as the anus is the one goal of all
excretions, as the feet are the one goal of all kinds of walking, as the
organ of speech is the one goal of all Vedas.
IV-v-13: As a lump of salt is without interior or exterior, entire,
and purely saline in taste, even so is the Self without interior or
exterior, entire, and Pure Intelligence alone. (The Self) comes out (as
a separate entity) from these elements, and (this separateness) is
destroyed with them. After attaining (this oneness) it has no more
consciousness. This is what I say, my dear. So said Yajnavalkya.
IV-v-14: Maitreyi said, ‘Just here you have led me into the midst of
confusion, sir, I do not at all comprehend this’. He said, ‘Certainly, I
am not saying anything confusing. This self is indeed immutable and
indestructible, my dear’.
IV-v-15: Because when there is duality, as it were, then one sees
something, one smells something, one tastes something, one speaks
something, one hears something, one thinks something, one touches
something, one knows something. (But) when to the knower of Brahman
everything has become the Self, then what should one see and through
what, what should one smell and through what, what should one taste and
through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one
hear and through what, what should one think and through what, what
should one touch and through what, what should one know and through what
? Through what should one know that owing to which all this is known ?
This self is That which has been described as ‘Not this, Not this’. It
is imperceptible, for It is never perceived; undecaying, for It never
decays; unattached, for It is never attached; unfettered – it never
feels pain, and never suffers injury. Through what, O Maitreyi, should
one know the Knower ? So you have got the instruction, Maitreyi. This
much indeed is (the means of) immortality, my dear. Saying this
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad -