Om ! O Devas, may we hear
with our ears what is auspicious; May we see with our eyes what is
auspicious, O ye worthy of worship ! May we enjoy the term of life
allotted by the Devas, Praising them with our body and limbs steady !
May the glorious Indra bless us ! May the all-knowing Sun bless us ! May
Garuda, the thunderbolt for evil, bless us ! May Brihaspati grant us
Om ! Let there be Peace in me ! Let there be Peace in my environment
! Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !
1. Now then Saunaka, the great householder (mahashala)
approached in due form the revered sage Pippalada of Angiras family and
asked him: (All created things) were surely present in the divine ether
of the heart of Brahman (the Hiranyagarbha). How did the great lord
create them out of himself in different species and who is this great
and powerful lore ? To him (Pippalada) said: The most excellent lore of
Brahman which I now expound, (Brahman of that alone) is true. It shines
brilliantly in the city of the transcendent Brahman, being beyond Rajas
(and the other gunas), partless, pure, indestructible and sustaining the
power of the senses and the vital airs. He is the creator of the group
of bees (in the form of individual souls) and restrains (their outward
vision). Remaining in the city of his Self, doing no worldly work (as an
ascetic) (he realizes oneness with Brahman). (But) as a doer of action
he reaps the fruit (of repeated births and deaths), like a farmer. The
knower of the true nature of action does action, (without attachment).
Knowing the secret of action, (that unattached action leads to
liberation) (the ascetic) shall do action. Which person (possessing
discrimination) will throw the net (of motivated action) on the one
(Brahman, screening it) ? (Motiveless action) will not drag him (to
worldliness), will not drag him.
2. The deities presiding over the vital breath are four (Vishva,
Viraj, Otir and Turya). All the nadis (where the vital breath and the
deities remain are also four). (The former two active in Rama and Arama
get fatigued in the waking and dreaming states and rest during) deep
sleep as a hawk flying in the sky. Just as a hawk flying in the sky goes
(when fatigued) into its abode, the nest, so the speaker (the Self)
after remaining in this (waking) and the other (dreaming state, rests in
deep sleep). This Self (while resting) in the golden transcendent sheath
(of the ether of the heart) and being immortal is active in the three
nadis (Rama, etc.,). (The first pada of this being avidya) it remains in
the state of Brahman in the three quarters. The remaining pada (the Jiva)
attains (its natural state) and then follows (i.e. attains liberation).
Hence the speaker of elsewhere (the Jiva in the avidya) and the other
(the Tripada Brahman are fancied to be different and thereby the Jiva
wanders in bondage.
(Although) the Jiva remains in the golden transcendent sheath (of
the ether of the heart, yet it experiences the states of waking, etc.,
due to avidya). Just as Devadatta (i.e. any person) awakened from sleep
when prodded with a stick does not go back (to sleep immediately, so
also the Jiva getting wisdom from the Vedanta does not have the delusion
of the three states of waking, etc.,); and it is not tainted by good or
bad acts (such as the optional) charitable deeds. It is similar to a
small boy who experiences joy without specific desires (in whatever
thing that comes to him).
Just as the luminous being (Jiva), (after
getting fatigued in the waking and dreaming states) welcomes the joy of
deep sleep, so it experiences bliss by realizing (its oneness with) the
supreme effulgence (Brahman), which gives all round lustre to luminaries
(such as the sun). Thus the heart (chitta) merges itself in the highest
(Brahman) and thus realizing the Paramatman enjoys bliss. The pure
colour (i.e. the state of non-distinction) arises from the (grace of)
Ishvara. Again by the same path of turya-svapna (dreaming in the fourth
state) he gives rest to the Self. Just as a leech moves from one
position to another (the Jiva moves from the waking state of the turya
to the dreaming state of the turya); this desire (to move from one state
to another in the turya) arises due to (the grace of) Ishvara. By this
the Jiva enjoys itself (by means of the distinctionful and
distinctionless deep meditation, Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Samadhi).
The juncture of the individual and supreme consciousness is rejected
as there is a tinge of distinction involved in it. (When
distinctionlessness alone exists) it is the highest (i.e. Brahman) and
there is nothing other than that. (When Self-realization does not result
by the study, etc., of the scripture) then one shall resort to the
eight-limbed Yoga; this like a flower of a plantain tree (ever rubbing
against the stem and attaining the state of a blossom) succeeds (in
That which remains as the source of Indra (Ishvara)
is ever awake there, as the source of the Veda (as Parameshvara). Beyond
(the bonds of) good and bad, he (the ascetic) is not tainted by
(accidental) good or bad actions. This effulgent Being is the (bestower
of) favour on other gods (like the god Brahma), the ‘internal check’ of
the form of unattached pure consciousness, the Purusha, the Hamsa of the
Pranava, the supreme Brahman. It is not the chief Prana (vital breath).
The Pranava is the Self (Jiva). (This state of the Jiva) remains as the
first effulgent being. How can he who knows thus (the true nature of the
Pranava) set forth difference (between the Jiva and Brahman) ? He
realizes that the Jiva is Brahman (alone).
3. Then to this realized person reality (i.e. true wisdom)
constitutes the inner tuft and sacred thread. To the Brahmana desirous
of liberation is (allowed) the state of the inward tuft and sacred
thread. The wearing of externally visible tuft and sacred thread (is
necessary) for the householders engaged in rituals. The characteristic
of the inward sacred thread is not clearly visible like external thread;
it is the union with reality inwardly.
4. It (avidya) is not existent (as the cause is not visible), nor
non-existent (as the effect is visible as the phenomenal world), nor
both (existent and non-existent part, as the two are incompatible). It
is not different (from Brahman as it has no independent existence), nor
non-different (as it is not a substance), nor of both (different and
non-different, as it is an impossibility). It is not possessed of parts
(as the parts are absent in the cause), nor partless (as the effect is
seen possessed of parts), nor a combination of both. (Thus avidya is
indescribable). It is to be discarded by the realization of oneness of
Brahman and the Self; for it is the cause of illusion. Thus (it is to be
5. There is nothing other than Brahman of the five padas (i.e. the
turyatita). There are four places for realizing the inward Jiva-Brahman
who consists of four padas inside the body. (The vyasti’s four padas
are: Vishva, Taijasa, Prajna and Turiya. The samasti’s four padas are:
Viraj, Sutra, Bija and Turiya). In the eyes, throat, heart and head
there are (the four) states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep and turya.
(Moreover the Atman is to be conceived as) the Ahavaniya, Garhapatya,
Dakshina and Sabhya fires. In the waking state (the presiding deity is)
the god Brahma, in dreaming state Vishnu, in deep sleep Rudra and the
fourth state is the indestructible one, consisting of consciousness.
Hence the four states (waking, etc.,) are to be considered as a covering
by four fingers and just as the sacred thread is of ninety-six
four-finger breadths (in extent) so the inward brahma-sutra consists of
ninety-six categories (tattvas). As the sacred thread consists of three
threads so the inward brahma-sutra is brought to the state of thirty two
categories in each of the three gunas.
This state of the triad purified by wisdom is to be known separately
as the three gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). This is known as the nine
Brahman-s possessed of nine attributes. These counted as nine, being
rendered into three each having three attributes, are to be identified
with the digits of the sun, moon and fire. The first and last (of the
triad) are to be turned thrice in the middle and are to be considered as
Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshvara. The first and last are to be joined and
the knot of non-duality is to be made in the knot of consciousness. Then
this which extends from the navel to the Brahmarandhra and connected
with the twenty-seven tattvas separately and possessing the three gunas
is to be considered as one though they are seen with the characteristics
of the Trinity. This (inward) brahma-sutra is to be considered as
hanging from the left shoulder reaching up to the right hip. The meeting
together of the first and last is to be understood as having one
foundation. Things made of clay are considered real (but) it is
verbosity (born of ignorance); the transformation is a (mere) name; that
it is clay alone is the truth. (As there is no pot without clay, so the
primary cause, Brahman alone is real).
With the two letters of the Hamsa (i.e. I am the Hamsa, Brahman) he
should be convinced of the internal tuft and sacred thread. The state of
a Brahmana is the state deserving meditation on Brahman. The state of
being a sage has the absence of visible tuft and sacred thread. Thus the
householder has visible tuft for performing ritual and the sacred thread
for acquiring wisdom. To the state of the semblance of a Brahmana there
is the tuft consisting of a mass of hair and sacred thread made of
cotton threads. (The brahma-sutra is one alone); it is four (as Vishva,
Viraj, etc.,) by quadruplication.
The twenty-four tattvas constitute the
threads. The nine tattvas constitute the one transcendent Brahman, (but
people) provide many paths (such as Sankhya, Yoga, etc.,) due to
difference in approach. Liberation is one alone to all, whether they are
Brahma and the other gods, divine sages or human beings. Brahman is one
alone. The state of the Brahmana is one alone. Castes, stages of life
and special duties are divergent. The tuft is the same to the castes and
stages of life. To the ascetic seeking salvation the basis of tuft and
sacred thread, (the wise) declare, is the Pranava alone. The Hamsa is
the tuft, the Pranava is the sacred thread and the Nada is the
connecting link. This is the dharma and no other is the dharma. How is
that ? The Pranava, Hamsa and Nada constitute the three fold thread and
this remains in consciousness in one’s heart. Know this to be the three
fold Brahman. (The ascetic) shall discard the worldly tuft and sacred
6. Having had a shave removing the tuft, a wise person shall discard
the external sacred thread. He shall have as the sacred thread the
transcendent Brahman which is indestructible.
7. For avoiding rebirth he shall ever long for liberation. The sutra
is so called as it indicates (liberation); the sutra indeed is the
8. He knows the sutra who has become a seeker after liberation, a
mendicant monk. He is the knower of the Veda, having unimpeachable
conduct. He is the learned Brahmana who sanctifies by his presence the
persons who sit in the same row to dine with him.
9. The Yogin, who is the knower of Yoga, a Brahmana and an ascetic
shall wear that sutra by which all this (phenomenal world) is joined
together (as a unity) just as gems are strung together in a thread.
10. A learned Brahmana who is deeply intent on Yoga and spiritual
wisdom shall discard the external sacred thread. He who wears the sutra
consisting of devotion to Brahman attains salvation. There is neither
impurity nor the state of eating the leavings of others when one
possesses that sutra.
11. Those who, having the sacred thread of spiritual wisdom, possess
the sutra inwardly are the knowers of the sutra in the world and they
are the (true) wearers of the sacred thread.
12. Their tuft and sacred thread consist of spiritual wisdom (Jnana),
they are established in Jnana; to them Jnana alone is supreme and this
Jnana is declared to be sanctifying.
13. The wise one whose tuft consists of Jnana and no other, like the
flame emanating from fire, is said to possess the (true) tuft; not the
others who wear (a mass of) hair.
14. Those who are immersed in activities, whether Vedic (ritual) or
worldly actions live as Brahmanas in name only, filling their bellies.
They come to grief and have rebirth again and again.
15. The sacred thread hanging from the left shoulder to the right hip
is contrariwise (to liberation). The wise shall wear (i.e. possess) true
knowledge which is rooted in consciousness, having threads in the form
of true principles (tattvas) and extending from the navel to the tip of
the aperture in the crown of the head (Brahmarandhra).
16. This sacred thread which forms part of ritual and made of
(cotton) threads is to be worn by them (i.e. the ignorant). He whose
tuft consists of wisdom as also his sacred thread has all the (true)
characteristics of a Brahmana; others have none at all.
17. It is this sacred thread which is the supreme panacea. The wise
one who wears this sacred thread attains liberation.
18. That learned Brahmana is entitled to renunciation who has the
sacred thread both within and without; but the one having one (i.e. the
external one) alone is never entitled to renunciation.
19. Hence by all effort the ascetic shall long for liberation.
Discarding the external thread he shall wear the internal sutra within
20. Disregarding the external phenomenal world, tuft and sacred
thread he shall hold on to the tuft and sacred thread in the form of the
sacred syllable (Pranava) and Brahman (Hamsa) and thus equip himself for
liberation. Thus declared the revered sage Saunaka. Thus (ends) the
Om ! O Devas, may we hear with our ears what is
auspicious; May we see with our eyes what is auspicious, O ye worthy of
worship ! May we enjoy the term of life allotted by the Devas, Praising
them with our body and limbs steady ! May the glorious Indra bless us !
May the all-knowing Sun bless us ! May Garuda, the thunderbolt for evil,
bless us ! May Brihaspati grant us well-being !
Om ! Let there be Peace in me ! Let there be Peace in my environment
! Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !
Here ends the Parabrahmopanishad, included in the
Translated by Prof. A. A. Ramanathan
Published by The Theosophical Publishing House, Chennai