Mundaka Upanishad

मुण्डक उपनिषद्

(Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad)

Translated by Raja Ram Mohun Roy

Moonduk Opunishud

Bruhma, the greatest of celestial deities,and executive creator and preserver of the world, came into form; he instructed Uthurvu, his eldest son, in the knowledge respecting the Supreme Being, on which all sciences rest. Uthurvu communicated formerly to Ungir what Bruhma taught him: Ungir imparted the same knowledge to one of the descendants of Bhurud-waju, called Sutyuvahu, who conveyed the doctrine so handed down to Ungirus. Shounuku, a wealthy house-holder, having in the prescribed manner approached Ungirus, asked, Is there any being by whose knowledge alone the whole universe may be immediately known? He (Ungirus) then replied: Those who have a thorough knowledge of the Veds, say that it should be understood that there are two sorts of knowledge, one superior, and the other inferior. There are the Rig-ved, Ujoor-ved, Samuved, and Uthuruvuved, and also their subordinate parts, consisting of Shiksha or a treatise on pronunciation, Kulpu or the science that teaches the details of rites according to the different branches of the Veds, Vyakurun or grammar, Nirooktu or explanation of the peculiar terms of the Veds, Ch’hundus or prosody, and Jyotish or astronomy: which all belong to the inferior kind of knowledge. Now the superior kind is conveyed by the Oopunishuds and is that through which absorption into the eternal Supreme Being may be obtained. That Supreme Being, who is the subject of the superior learning, is beyond the apprehension of the senses, and out of the reach of the corporeal organs of action, and is without origin, colour, or magnitude and has neither eye nor ear, nor has he hand or foot. He is everlasting, all-pervading, omnipresent, absolutely incorporeal, unchangeable, and it is he whom wise men consider as the origin of the universe. In the same way as the cobweb is created and absorbed by the spider independently of exterior origin, as vegetables proceed from the earth, and hair and nails from animate creatures, so the Universe is produced by the eternal Supreme Being.

From his omniscience the Supreme Being resolves to create the Universe. Then nature, the apparent cause of the world, is produced by him. From her the prior operating sensitive particle of the world, styled Bruhma, the source of the faculties, proceeds. From the faculties the five elements are produced; thence spring the seven divisions of the world, whereon ceremonial rites, with their consequences, are brought forth. By him who knows all things, collectively and distinctly, whose knowledge and will are the only means of all his actions, Bruhma, name, and form, and all that vegetates are produced.

End of the first Section of the 1st Moondukum.

Those rites, 1 the prescription of which wise men, such as Vushisthu, and others found in the Veds, are truly the means of producing good consequences. They have been performed in various manners by three sects among Brahmuns, namely, Udhuryoo, or those who are well versed in the Ujoor-ved; Oodgata, or the sect who know thoroughly the Samu-ved; and Hota, those Bruhmuns that have a perfect knowledge of the Rig-ved. You all continue to perform them, as long as you feel a desire to enjoy gratifications attainable from them. This practice of performing rites is the way which leads you to the benefits you expect to derive from your works.

Fire being augmented when its flame waves, the observer of rites shall offer oblations to deities in the middle of the waving flame.

If observance of the sacred fire be not attended with the rites required to be performed on the days of new and full moon, and during the four months of the rains, and in the autumn and spring; and be also not attended with hospitality and due regard to time or the worship of Vyshwudevu, and be fulfilled without regard to prescribed forms, it will deprive the worshipper of the enjoyments which he might otherwise expect in his seven future mansions.

Kalec, Kuralee, Munojuvá, Soolohitá, Soodhoomruvurná, Sphoolinginee, Vishwuroochee, are the seven names of the seven waving points of the flame.

He who offers oblations at the prescribed time in those illuminating and waving points of fire, is carried by the oblations so offered through the rays of the Sun to the Heaven where Indru, prince of the celestial gods, reigns. The illuminating oblations, while carrying the observer of rites through the rays of the Sun, invite him to heaven, saying, “Come in! come in!” and entertaining him with pleasing conversation, and treating him with veneration, say to him, “This is the summit of the heavens, the fruit of your good works.”

The eighteen members of rites and sacrifices, void of the true knowledge, are infirm and perishable. Those ignorant persons who consider them as the source of real bliss, shall, after the enjoyment of future gratification, undergo transmigrations. Those fools who, immersed in ignorance, that is, the foolish practice of rites, consider themselves to be wise and learned, wander about, repeatedly subjecting themselves to birth, disease, death, and other pains, like blind men when guided by a blind man.

Engaged in various manners of rites and sacrifices, the ignorant are sure of obtaining their objects: but as the observers of such rites, from their excessive desire of fruition, remain destitute of a knowledge of God, they, afflicted with sorrows, descend to this world after the time of their celestial gratification is expired. Those complete fools believe, that the rites prescribed by the Veds in performing sacrifices, and those laid down by the Smrities at the digging of wells and other pious liberal actions, are the most beneficial, and have no idea that a knowledge of, and faith in God, are the only true sources of bliss. They, after death, having enjoyed the consequence of such rites on the summit of heaven, transmigrate in the human form, or in that of inferior animals, or of plants.

Mendicants and hermits, who residing in forests, live upon alms, as well as householders possessed of a portion of wisdom, practising religious austerities, the worship of Brahma and others, and exercising a control over the senses, freed from sins, ascend through the northern path 2 to the highest part of heaven, where the immortal Brahma, who is coeval with the world, assumes his supremacy.

Having taken into serious consideration the perishable nature of all objects within the world, which are acquirable from human works, a Brahmun shall cease to desire them; reflecting within himself, that nothing which is obtained through perishable means can be expected to be eternal: hence what use of rites? He then, with a view to acquire a knowledge of superior learning, shall proceed, with a load of wood in his hand, to a spiritual teacher who is versed in the doctrines of the Veds and has firm faith in God. The wise teacher shall properly instruct his pupil so devoted to him, freed from the importunities of external senses, and possessed of tranquillity of mind, in the knowledge through which he may know the eternal Supreme Being.

End of the first Moondukum.

He, the subject of the superior knowledge, alone is true. As from a blazing fire thousands of sparks of the same nature proceed, so from the eternal Supreme Being (O beloved pupil) various souls come forth, and again they return into him. He is immortal and without form or figure, omnipresent, pervading external and internal objects, unborn, without breath or individual mind, pure and superior to eminently exalted nature.

From him the first sensitive particle, or the seed of the universe, individual intellect, all the senses and their objects, also vacuum, air, light, water, and the earth which contains all things, proceed.

Heaven is his head, and the sun and moon are his eyes; space is his ears, the celebrated Veds are his speech; air is his breath, the world is his intellect, and the earth is his feet; for he is the soul of the whole universe.

By him the sky, which is illuminated by the sun, is produced; clouds, which have their origin from the effects of the moon, accumulating them in the sky, bring forth vegetables in the earth; man imparts the essence drawn from these vegetables, to woman; then through the combination of such physical causes, numerous offspring come forth from the omnipresent Supreme Being.

From him all the texts of the Veds, consisting of verses, musical compositions, and prose, proceed; in like manner by him are produced Deeksha or certain preliminary ceremonies, and sacrifices, without sacrificial posts or with them; fees lastly offered in sacrifices, time, and the principal person who institutes the performance of sacrifices and defrays their expenses; as well as future mansions, where the moon effects purification and where the sun shines. By him gods of several descriptions, all celestial beings subordinate to those gods, mankind, animals, birds, both breath and peditum, wheat and barley, austerity, conviction, truth, duties of ascetics, and rules for conducting human life, were created. From him seven individual senses within the head proceed, as well as their seven respective inclinations towards their objects, their seven objects, and ideas acquired through them, and their seven organs (two eyes, two ears, the two passages of nose and mouth), in which those senses are situated in every living creature, and which never cease to act except at the time of sleep.

From him, oceans and all mountains proceed, and various rivers flow: all vegetables, tastes, (consisting of sweet, salt, pungent, bitter. sour, and astringent) united with which the visible elementary substance encloses the corpuscle situate in the heart. 3 The Supreme existence is himself all—rites as well as their rewards. He therefore is the Supreme and Immortal. He who knows him (O beloved pupil) as residing in, the hearts of all animate beings, disentangles the knot: of ignorance in this world.

End of the first section of the 2nd Moondukum.

God, as being resplendent and most proximate to all creatures, is styled the operator in the heart; he is great and all-sustaining; for on him rest all existences, such as those that move, those that breathe, those that twinkle, and those that do not. Such is God. You all contemplate him as the support of all objects, visible and invisible, the chief end of human pursuit. He surpasses all human understanding, and is the most pre-eminent. He, who irradiates the sun and other bodies, who is smaller than an atom, larger than the world, and in whom is the abode of all the divisions of the universe, and of all their inhabitants, is the eternal God, the origin of breath, speech, and intellect, as well as of all the senses. He, the origin of all the senses, the true and unchangeable Supreme Being, should be meditated upon; and do thou (O beloved pupil) apply constantly thy mind to him. Seizing the bow found in the Oopunishuds, the strongest of weapons, man shall draw the arrow (of the soul), sharpened by the constant application of mind to God. Do thou (O pupil), being in the same practice, withdrawing all the senses from worldly objects, through the mind directed towards the Supreme Being, hit the mark which is the eternal God. The word Om, signifying God, is represented as the bow, the soul as the arrow, and the Supreme Being as its aim, which a man of steady mind should hit: he then shall be united to God as the arrow to its mark. In God, heaven, earth, and space reside, and also intellect, with breath and all the senses. Do you strive to know solely the ONE Supreme Being, and forsake all other discourse; because this (a true knowledge respecting God) is the only way to eternal beatitude. The veins of the body are inserted into the heart, like the radius of a wheel into its nave. There the Supreme Being, as the origin of the notion of individuality, and of its various circumstances, resides; Him, through the help of Om, you all contemplate. Blessed be ye in crossing over the ocean of dark ignorance to absorption into God. He who knows the universe collectively, distinctively, whose majesty is fully evident in the world, operates within the space of the heart, his luminous abode.

He is perceptible only by intellect; and removes the breath and corpuscle, in which the soul resides, from one substance to another: supporting intellectual faculties, he is seated in the heart. Wise men acquire a knowledge of him, who shines eternal, and the source of all happiness, through the pure knowledge conveyed to them by the Veds and by spiritual fathers: God, who is all in all, being known to man as the origin of intellect and self-consiousness, every desire of the mind ceases, all doubts are removed, and effects of the good or evil actions committed, now or in preceding shapes, are totally annihilated. The Supreme Being, free from stain, devoid of figure or form, and entirely pure, the light of all lights, resides in the heart, his resplendently excellent seat: those discriminating men, who know him as the origin of intellect and of self-conciousness, are possessed of the real notion of God. Neither the sun nor the moon, nor yet the stars, can throw light on God: even the illuminating lightning can not throw light upon him, much less can limited fire give him light: but they all imitate him, and all borrow their light from him. God alone is immortal: he extends before, behind, to the right, to the left, beneath and above. He is the Supreme, and All-in-all.

End of the Second Moondukum.

Two birds (meaning God and the soul) cohabitant and co-essential, reside unitedly in one tree, which is the body. One of them (the soul) consumes the variously tasted fruits of its actions; but the other (God), without partaking of them, witnesses all events.

The soul so pressed down in the body, being deluded with ignorance, grieves at its own insufficiency; but when it perceives its cohabitant, the adorable Lord of the Universe, 4 the origin of itself, and his glory, it feels relieved from grief and infatuation. When a wise man perceives the resplendent God, the Creator and Lord of the Universe and the omnipresent prime Cause, he then, abandoning the consequences of good and evil works, becomes perfect, and obtains entire absorption. A wise man knowing God as perspicuously residing in all creatures, forsakes all idea of duality; being convinced that there is only one real Existence, which is God. He then directs all his senses towards God alone, the origin of self-consciousness, and on him exclusively he places his love, abstracting at the same time his mind from all wordly objects by constantly applying it to God: the persons so devoted is reckoned the most perfect among the votaries of the Deity. Through strict veracity, the uniform direction of mind and senses, and through notions acquired from spiritual teachers, as well as by abstinence from sexual indulgence, man should approach God, who, full of splendour and perfection, works in the heart; and to whom only the votaries freed from passion and desire can approximate.

He who practises veracity prospers, and not he who speaks untruths: the way to eternal beatitude is open to him who without omission speaketh truth. This is that way through which the saints, extricated from all desires, proceed to the Supreme Existence, the consequence of .the observance of truth. He is great and incomprehensible by the senses, and consequently his nature is beyond human conception. He, though more subtle than vacuum itself, shines in various ways—From those who do not know him, he is at a greater distance than the limits of space, and to those who acquire a knowledge of him, he is most proximate; and while residing in animate creatures, he is perceived obscurely by those who apply their thoughts to him. He is not perceptible by vision, nor is he describable by means of speech: neither can he be the object of any of the other organs of sense; nor can he be conceived by the help of austerities or religious rites: but a person whose mind is purified by the light of true knowledge, through incessant contemplation, perceives him, the most pure God. Such is the invisible Supreme Being: he should be observed in the heart, wherein breath, consisting of five species, rests. The mind being perfectly freed from impurity, God who spreads over the mind and all the senses, imparts a knowledge of himself to the heart.

A pious votary of God obtains whatever division of the world and whatever desirable object he may wish to acquire for himself or for another: therefore any one, who is desirous of honour and advantage, should revere him.

End of the 1st section of the 3rd Moondukum.

Those wise men who, abandoning all desires, revere the devotee who has acquired a knowledge of the supreme exaltation of God, on whom the whole universe rests, and who is perfect and illuminates everywhere, will never be subjected to further birth.

He who, contemplating the various effects of objects visible or invisible, feels a desire to obtain them, shall be born again with those feelings: but the man satisfied with a knowledge of and faith in God, blessed by a total destruction of ignorance, forsakes all such desires even during his life.

A knowledge of God, the prime Object, is not acquirable from study of the Veds, nor through retentive memory, nor yet by continual hearing of spiritual instruction: but he who seeks to obtain a knowledge of God is gifted with it, God rendering himself conspicuous to him.

No man deficient in faith or discretion can obtain a knowledge of God; nor can even he who possesses wisdom mingled with the desire of fruition, gain it: but the soul of a wise man who, through firm belief, prudence, and pure understanding, not biassed by worldly desire, seeks for knowledge, will be absorbed into God.

The saints who, wise and firm, were satisfied solely with a knowledge of God, assured of the soul’s divine origin, exempt from passion, and possessed of tranquillity of mind, having found God the omnipresent everywhere, have after death been absorbed into him; even as limited extension within a jar is by its destruction united to universal space. All the votaries who repose on God alone their firm belief, originating from a knowledge of the Vedant, and who, by forsaking religious rites, obtain purification of mind, being continually occupied in divine reflections during life, are at the time of death entirely freed from ignorance and absorbed into God. On the approach of death, the elementary parts of their body, being fifteen in number, unite with their respective origins: their corporeal faculties, such as vision and feeling, &c. return into their original sources, the sun and air, &c. The consequences of their works, together with their souls, are absorbed into the supreme and eternal Spirit, in the same manner as the reflection of the sun in water returns to him on the removal of the water. As all rivers flowing into the ocean disappear and lose their respective appellations and forms, so the person who has acquired a knowledge of and faith in God, freeing himself from the subjugation of figure and appellation, is absorbed into the supreme, immaterial and omnipresent Existence.

He who acquires a knowledge of the Supreme Being according to the foregoing doctrine, shall inevitably be absorbed into him, surmounting all the obstacles that he may have to encounter. None of his progeny will be destitute of a true knowledge of God. He escapes from mental distress and from evil propensities; he is also relieved from the ignorance which occasions the idea of duality. This is the true doctrine inculcated throughout the foregoing texts, and which a man should impart to those who are accustomed to perform good works, conversant in the Veds, and inclined toward the acquisition of the knowledge of God, and who themselves, with due regard, offer oblations to sacred fire; and also to those who have continually practised shirobrutu, a certain observance of the sacred fire. This is the true divine doctrine, in which Ungirus instructed his pupil Shounuku, which a person not accustomed to devotion should not study.

Salutation to the knowers of God!

1. In the beginning of this Section, the author treats of the subject of the inferior knowledge; and in the conclusion he introduces that of the superior doctrine, which he continues throughout the whole Oopunishud.

2. According to Hindoo theologians, there are two roads that lead to distinct heavens, one northern, the other southern. The former is the path to the habitation of Bruhma and the superior gods, and the latter to the heaven of Indra and the other inferior deities.

3. This corpuscle is supposed to be constituted of all the various elements that enter into the composition of the animal frame. Within it the soul has its residence, and acting upon it, operates through its medium in the whole system. To this corpuscle the soul remains attached through all changes of being, until finally absorbed into the Supreme Intelligence.

4. The difference between God, the intellectual principle, and the soul, the individual intellect, subsists as long as the idea of self-individuality is retained; like the distinction between finite and infinite space, which ceases as soon as the idea of particular figure is done away.

See Also

Translation of the

Moonduk Opunishud

Of The Uthurvu-Ved

According to the Gloss of the Celebrated Shunkuracharyu.

(incl. Introduction)

By Raja Ram Mohun Roy

Full Text Online (PDF)

Translated by Charles Johnston

See also: The Mukhya Upanishads, by C. Johnston

Mundaka Upanishad

Brahmâ the Evolver, first of the Bright Powers came to birth, Maker of all, Preserver of the world. He declared the Wisdom of the Eternal, the root and foundation of all wisdom, to Atharvan, his eldest son. The Wisdom of the Eternal which Brahmâ imparted to Atharvan, that of old Atharvan declared to Angir. Angir declared it to Satyavaha of the line of Bharadvaja. The descendant of Bharadvaja declared it to Angiras, both the higher and the lower wisdom.

Shaunaka, verily, lord of a great dwelling, coming according to rule to Angiras, asked him: Master through the knowledge of what does all this become known?

To him he said: Two wisdoms are to be known, as the knowers of the Eternal declare, the higher and the lower wisdom.

The lower wisdom is, the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Pronunciation, Ritual, Grammar, Definition, Metres and Knowledge of the stars.

So the higher wisdom is that whereby the Everlasting is attained.

That which is invisible, intangible, without family or colour, without sight or hearing, without hands or feet; eternal, all-pervading, omnipresent, most subtile, that imperishable which the wise behold as the source of beings.

As the spider puts forth and draws in the thread; as plants come to birth upon the earth; as hair and down grow on a living man; so from that Everlasting the whole world comes to birth.

Through fervour and penance the Eternal is gained. From the Eternal, food comes to birth. From food, the life-breath, mind, truth, the worlds, and the immortal in works.

He who is all-knowing, all-wise, whose fervour and penance consist in wisdom, through him this Eternal, and name and form, and food come to birth.

There is this truth:

The works which the Seers beheld in the chants are set forth manifold in the three Vedas.

Perform them faithfully, ye who desire the truth; this is your path to the world of reward.

When the tongued flame quivers, after the fire of oblations has been kindled, then between the two portions of consecrated oil let him throw the oblations.

He who follows not the Agnihotra sacrifice with the sacrifice of the new moon and full moon, the four months sacrifice and the harvest sacrifice; he who invites not guests to the sacrifice, or offers no sacrifice, or a sacrifice without summoning all the gods, or without due rites, such a one loses the seven worlds.

These are the seven quivering tongues of flame: the black, the terrible, the mind-swift, the ruddy, the dark red, the sparkling and the glowing brilliant.

If he perform sacrifice while these are glowing, offering the oblations at the right time, these as sun rays lead him to the dwelling of the lord of the gods.

Calling, Come! Come! the shining oblations carry the sacrificer with the sun’s rays, speaking fair words and praising; This is your holy Heaven, your world of reward!

Infirm boats are these forms of sacrifice, the eighteen, in which are set forth the lower work. Those who, deluded, think this the better way, go again to decay and death.

Others, turning about in the unwisdom of delusion, self-wise, thinking themselves learned, stray, wandering in the way, deluded, like the blind led by the blind.

Turning about in manifold unwisdom, foolishly thinking, We have done the work! the followers of ritual perceive not because of their desires. Therefore, when their world of reward fails, they fall in misery.

Thinking the merit of burnt offerings is best, they are deluded, not perceiving the other and better way. After they have received their reward in the paradise gained by their works, they return to this, or, perchance, a lower world.

But they who follow after fervour and faith, who in the forest dwell in peace, wise, serving the Eternal, purified from passion, they pass through the door of the Sun, to the Immortal, the Spirit, the imperishable Soul.

Discerning the worlds that are won by these works, let him renounce them. The uncreated is not won by works like these. In order that he may gain knowledge of these things, let him approach the Master, with kindling wood in his hands; a Master full of spiritual wisdom, firmly established in the Eternal. To the disciple who has thus drawn near to him, whose turbulent thoughts have been stilled, who has entered into peace, the wise Master teaches that truth whereby he knows the imperishable Spirit, the wisdom of the Eternal in its reality.

There is this truth:

As from a blazing fire sparks come forth a thousandfold, of like nature to it; so, beloved, from the Everlasting are born manifold beings, and thither also they return.

For divine, without form, is Spirit; He is without and within, unborn; without breath or mind, pure, above the highest imperishable Nature.

From Him are born life-breath and mind and all the powers that perceive and act, the aether, air, fire, the waters, and earth, the bearer of all.

The Fire-god is His head, His eyes are sun and moon; the spaces are His ears; revealed wisdom is His voice; the air is His life-breath, the world is His heart, from His feet comes the earth; for He is the Inmost Soul of all beings.

From Him comes the fire whose fuel is the sun; from the moon-power comes rain, and plants spring up on the earth. Spirit sends forth energy into Nature; through Spirit, many beings come to birth.

From Him come the chants of the Rig Veda, the Sama and Yajur Vedas initiatory rites, all sacrifices, ceremonies, gifts; the circling year also, the sacrificer, the world where the moon shines and the world illumined by the sun.

From Him also the divinities in their many forms received being, and the seraphs and men and beasts and birds; from Him the forward life and the downward life; from Him rice and barley; from Him, fervour and faith and truth, service of the Eternal and the disciple’s rule.

From Him come forth the seven lives; from Him the seven flames and their several fuel; from Him come the seven offerings. Seven are these worlds wherein the seven lives gain their experience, hidden in the secret place, according to seven and seven.

From Him come the oceans and all hills; from Him the rivers flow in their many forms; from Him come all plants, and the fine essence through which the Inner Soul stands in beings.

For that Spirit is all that is: work, fervour, the Eternal, the supreme immortal. He who knows this Spirit hidden in the inner being, he, beloved, unties the knot of the heart.

The Eternal is manifest, yet concealed; Moving-in-secret is its name; it is the great abode in which all things are set firm.

It moves and breathes, with opening and closing eyes; know ye that this, which is Being and non-being, is to be sought after; it is beyond the understanding of creatures, it is most excellent. It is fiery, more subtile than the atom; in it these worlds are set, and the dwellers in the worlds.

This is the enduring Eternal, this is Life, the Word, Mind. This is the Truth, this, the Immortal. This is to be aimed at as the mark; pierce that mark, beloved!

Grasping the potent weapon, the Secret Wisdom, as thy bow, fit to it the arrow of thought sharpened by meditation, drawing the bow with the heart filled with the Being of That, aim at the Everlasting as thy mark, beloved!

The holy syllable is the bow; the arrow is thyself; the Eternal is the mark. The arrow should be sped by him who has conquered delusion; let him find lodgment in That, as the arrow in the mark.

That whereon Heaven and Earth and the space between are woven, with Mind and all lives; know ye That as the One, without other names, for That is the bridge of immortality.

As spokes are set in the nave of the wheel, in Him are the life-courses set; through them He moves in manifold forms of life. Meditate ye on the Soul through the holy syllable; may it be well with you, in crossing to the shore beyond the darkness.

He who is all-knowing, all-wise, whose is this greatness in the world, He is the Soul, established in the city of the Eternal, in the heavenly ether.

Formed of mind, leader of life and of the body, established in food, dwelling in the heart, Him the wise discern through wisdom, formed of joy, immortal, radiant.

The knot of the heart is untied, all doubts are cut; his bondage through works wears out, when That is known, which is above and below.

In the highest golden vesture is the stainless, partless Eternal: that radiant One, the light of lights, whom the knowers of the Soul know.

The sun shines not there, nor the moon and stars, nor these lightnings, nor fire like this; after the shining of this, all things shine; by the light of this, all else is illumined.

The Eternal, verily, is this, immortal; the Eternal is before, the Eternal is behind, the Eternal is on the right hand, the Eternal is on the left; extended below and above is the Eternal, the Eternal is all this, to the uttermost.

Two birds, close comrades, rest on the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit; the other watches, eating not.

In that tree is man, sunk down, grieving for his lost power, deluded; when he sees the other, the Lord in his greatness, as one with him, he is freed from sorrow.

When the seer beholds the Maker, the spiritual man, bearing within him the Eternal, then, illumined by wisdom, passing beyond both works enjoined and works forbidden, stainless, he attains to supreme oneness.

This is the Life that shines through all beings; knowing Him, he attains to wisdom, for there is no other who imparts wisdom. Rejoicing in the Soul, delighting in the Soul, accomplishing all things, he becomes the most excellent knower of the Eternal.

For this Soul is to be gained by truth, by fervour, by thorough knowledge, by service of the Eternal perpetually rendered.

In the body within, formed of light and radiant is he, whom they who strive toward him behold, they whose sins are worn away.

Truth conquers, and not untruth; by truth is the path, the divine way, ascended, the path by which the seers go, who have gained their desire, to the supreme treasure house of truth.

Great is that, divine, in form beyond thought, more subtile than the subtile, shining forth. Farther than far, yet it is close at hand; here, hidden in the heart, for those who have vision.

Not by the eye is that apprehended, not by speech, nor by the other powers, nor by penance and the works of the law; through the grace of wisdom, when the heart is pure, through meditation he beholds Him who is undivided.

This subtile Soul is to be known through the heart, into which life has entered fivefold; through these life-forces the whole consciousness of beings is woven; when this consciousness is purified, the Soul shines forth.

Whatever world he who is purified conceives in his heart, whatever desires he desires, that world he wins, and those desires; therefore let him who seeks well-being honour him who knows the Soul.

He knows the supreme dwelling of the Eternal, resting in which the world shines, luminous. They who have conquered their desires, draw near to the spiritual man; full of wisdom, they conquer the seed of rebirth in the world.

He who desires desires, dwelling on them in his mind, through these desires he is reborn in this place or in that. But he who has attained his desire, who has gained the Soul, from him even in this world all desires melt away.

Not by speaking is the Soul gained, nor by much reasoning, nor by hearing much; whom the Soul chooses, by him it is gained; the Soul reveals its own form to him.

Nor is the Soul to be attained by him who lacks valour, nor by the heedless, nor by penance without renunciation. But when he wisely strives through the right means, this Soul enters his heart, where dwells the Eternal.

Attaining Him, rejoicing in wisdom, purified from passion, gaining peace, winning that all-penetrating Soul, wise, united with the Soul, the seers enter into the All.

They who have understood that wisdom which is the essence of the Vedas, who strive through renunciation and union, purified in heart, all these at the time of the end gain liberation, immortal in the realm of the Eternal.

Gone are the thrice five parts in their places, and all the shining powers in their several shining, and all works, and the self of mental action; all have become one in the unchanging Supreme.

As rivers, flowing to the ocean, go to their setting, putting off name and form, so the possessor of wisdom, freed from name and form, gains that Spirit which is higher than the highest, the Divine.

He who knows the supreme Eternal, becomes the Eternal, nor is any born in his line who knows not the Eternal. He crosses beyond sorrow, he crosses beyond sin, freed from the knots of the heart he becomes immortal.

This is declared by the Vedic verse:

They who fulfil the rites, who hear the Vedas, who are established in the Eternal, who offer themselves with faith in the one Seer; to them let him declare wisdom, who have duly fulfilled the head vow.

This is the truth which the seer Angiras declared of old. He receives it not, who has not fulfilled the vow.

Obeisance to the supreme Seers!

Obeisance to the supreme Seers!

See Also

The Two Wisdoms

Mundaka Upanishad

Translated from the Sanskrit with an Interpretation

By Charles Johnston

Full Text Online (PDF)

Translated by Swāmi Nikhilānanda

Mundaka Upanishad

First Mundaka

Chapter I


OM. Brahmā, the Maker of the universe and the Preserver of the world, was the first among the devas. He told His eldest son Atharva about the Knowledge of Brahman, the foundation of all knowledge.


The Knowledge of Brahman about which Brahmā told Atharva, Atharva, in olden times, told Angir. Angir taught it to Satyavaha, belonging to the clan of Bharadvāja, and the latter taught it, in succession, to Angiras.


Saunaka, the great householder, approached Angiras in the proper manner and said: Revered sir, what is that by the knowing of which all this becomes known?


To him he said: Two kinds of knowledge must be known—that is what the knowers of Brahman tell us. They are the Higher Knowledge and the lower knowledge.


Of these two, the lower knowledge is the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Atharva-Veda, śikshā (phonetics), kalpa (rituals), vyākaranam (grammar), nirukta (etymology), chhandas (metre), and jyotis (astronomy); and the Higher Knowledge is that by which the Imperishable Brahman is attained.


By means of the Higher Knowledge the wise behold everywhere Brahman, which otherwise cannot be seen or seized, which has no root or attributes, no eyes or ears, no hands or feet; which is eternal and omnipresent, all-pervading and extremely subtle; which is imperishable and the source of all beings.


As the spider sends forth and draws in its thread, as plants grow on the earth, as hair grows on the head and the body of a living man—so does everything in the universe arise from the Imperishable.


Brahman expands by means of austerity, and from It primal matter is produced; from matter, Prāna; from Prāna, mind; from mind, the elements; from the elements, the worlds; thence works, and from the works, their immortal fruits.


For him who knows all and understands everything, whose austerity consists of knowledge—from Him, the Imperishable Brahman, are born Brahmā, name, form, and food.

Chapter II


This is the truth: The sacrificial works which were revealed to the rishis in the hymns have been described in many ways in the three Vedas. Practise them, being desirous to attain their true results. This is your path leading to the fruits of your works.


When the fire is well lighted and the flames flicker, let a man offer his oblations in the space between the two portions of melted butter.


If a man’s Agnihotra sacrifice is not accompanied by the Darśa and the Paurnamāsa sacrifice, by the Four Months’ sacrifice and the Autumnal sacrifice; if it is unattended by hospitality to guests or if the oblations are not offered at the right time; or if the sacrifice is unaccompanied by the Vaiśvadeva ceremony or is improperly performed—then it destroys his seven worlds.


Kāli, Karāli, Manojavā, Sulohitā, Sudhumravamā, Sphulingini, and the luminous Viävaruchi—these seven, flickering about, form the seven tongues of the fire.


A man who performs the sacrifices when these flames are shining, and offers oblations at the right time, is carried by these oblations on the rays of the sun to where dwells the sole sovereign of the gods.


The luminous oblations say to the sacrificer: Come hither! Come hither! and lead him on the rays of the sun, worshipping him all the while and greeting him with the pleasant words: This is the holy heaven of Brahma, earned by your good deeds.


But frail indeed are those rafts of sacrifices, conducted by eighteen persons, upon whom rests the inferior work; therefore they are destructible. Fools who rejoice in them as the Highest Good fall victims again and again to old age and death.


Fools, dwelling in darkness, but wise in their own conceit and puffed up with vain scholarship, wander about, being afflicted by many ills, like blind men led by the blind.


Children, immersed in ignorance in various ways, flatter themselves, saying: We have accomplished life’s purpose. Because these performers of karma do not know the Truth owing to their attachment, they fall from heaven, misery-stricken, when the fruit of their work is exhausted.


Ignorant fools, regarding sacrifices and humanitarian works as the highest, do not know any higher good. Having enjoyed their reward on the heights of heaven, gained by good works, they enter again this world or a lower one.


But those wise men of tranquil minds who live in the forest on alms, practising penances appropriate to their stations of life and contemplating such deities as Hiranyagarbha, depart, freed from impurities, by the Path of the Sun, to the place where that immortal Person dwells whose nature is imperishable.


Let a brāhmin, after having examined all these worlds that are gained by works, acquire freedom from desires: nothing that is eternal can be produced by what is not eternal. In order that he may understand that Eternal, let him, fuel in hand, approach a guru who is well versed in the Vedas and always devoted to Brahman.


To that pupil who has duly approached him, whose mind is completely serene, and whose senses are controlled, the wise teacher should indeed rightly impart the Knowledge of Brahman, through which one knows the immutable and the true Purusha.

Second Mundaka

Chapter I


This is the truth: As, from a blazing fire, sparks essentially akin to it By forth by the thousand, so also, my good friend, do various beings come forth from the imperishable Brahman and unto Him again return.


He is the self-luminous and formless Purusha, uncreated and existing both within and without. He is devoid of prāna, devoid of mind, pure, and higher than the supreme Imperishable.


From Him are born prāna, mind, all the sense-organs, ākāśa, air, fire, water, and earth, which supports all.


The heavens are His head; the sun and moon, His eyes; the quarters, His ears; the revealed Vedas, His speech; the wind is His breath; the universe, His heart. From His feet is produced the earth. He is, indeed, the inner Self of all beings.


From Him comes the Fire whose fuel is the sun; from the moon comes rain; from rain, the herbs that grow on the earth; from the herbs, the seminal fluid which a man pours into a woman. Thus many living beings are born of the Purusha.


From Him have come the Rik, the Saman, the Yajus, the Dikshā, all sacrifices, the Kratus, gifts, the year, the sacrificer, and the worlds which the moon sanctifies and the sun illumines.


By Him are begotten the various devas, the sādhyas, men, cattle, birds, and also prāna and apāna, rice and corn, penance, faith, truth, continence, and law.


From Him have sprung the seven prānas, the seven flames, the seven kinds of fuel, the seven oblations, and also the seven planes where move the prānas, lying in the cave, which are seven in each living being.


From Him come all the oceans and the mountains; from Him flow rivers of every kind; from Him have come, as well, all plants and flavours, by which the inner self subsists surrounded by the elements.


The Purusha alone is verily the universe, which consists of work and austerity. O my good friend, he who knows this Brahman—the Supreme and the Immortal, hidden in the cave of the heart—cuts asunder even here the knot of ignorance.

Chapter II


The luminous Brahman dwells in the cave of the heart and is known to move there. It is the great support of all; for in It is centred everything that moves, breathes, and blinks. O disciples, know that to be your Self—that which is both gross and subtle, which is adorable, supreme, and beyond the understanding of creatures.


That which is radiant, subtler than the subtle, That by which all the worlds and their inhabitants are supported—That, verily, is the indestructible Brahman; That is the prāna, speech, and the mind; That is the True and That is the Immortal. That alone is to be struck. Strike It, my good friend.


Take the Upanishad as the bow, the great weapon, and place upon it the arrow sharpened by meditation. Then, having drawn it back with a mind directed to the thought of Brahman, strike that mark, O my good friend—that which is the Imperishable.


Om is the bow; the ātman is the arrow; Brahman is said to be the mark. It is to be struck by an undistracted mind. Then the ātman becomes one with Brahman, as the arrow with the target.


In Him are woven heaven, earth, and the space between, and the mind with all the sense-organs. Know that non-dual Atman alone and give up all other talk. He is the bridge to Immortality.


He moves about, becoming manifold, within the heart, where the arteries meet, like the spokes fastened in the nave of a chariot wheel. Meditate on Ātman as Om. Hail to you! May you cross beyond the sea of darkness!


He who knows all and understands all, and to whom belongs all the glory in the world—He, Atman, is placed in the space in the effulgent abode of Brahman. He assumes the forms of the mind and leads the body and the senses. He dwells in the body, inside the heart. By the knowledge of That which shines as the blissful and immortal Ātman, the wise behold Him fully in all things.


The fetters of the heart are broken, all doubts are resolved, and all works cease to bear fruit, when He is beheld who is both high and low.


There the stainless and indivisible Brahman shines in the highest, golden sheath. It is pure; It is the Light of lights; It is That which they know who know the Self.


The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these lightnings, not to speak of this fire. When He shines, everything shines after Him; by His light everything is lighted.


That immortal Brahman alone is before, that Brahman is behind, that Brahman is to the right and left. Brahman alone pervades everything above and below; this universe is that Supreme Brahman alone.

Third Mundaka

Chapter I


Two birds, united always and known by the same name, closely cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit; the other looks on without eating.


Seated on the same tree, the jiva moans, bewildered by his impotence. But when he beholds the other, the Lord worshipped by all, and His glory, he then becomes free from grief.


When the seer beholds the self-luminous Creator, the Lord, the Purusha, the progenitor of Brahma, then he, the wise seer, shakes off good and evil, becomes stainless, and reaches the supreme unity.


He indeed is Prāna; He shines forth variously in all beings. The wise man who knows Him does not babble. Revelling in the Self, delighting in the Self, performing actions, he is the foremost among the knowers of Brahman.


This Ātman, resplendent and pure, whom the sinless sannyāsins behold residing within the body, is attained by unceasing practice of truthfulness, austerity, right knowledge, and continence.


Truth alone prevails, not falsehood. By truth the path is laid out, the Way of the Gods, on which the seers, whose every desire is satisfied, proceed to the Highest Abode of the True.


That Brahman shines forth, vast, self-luminous, inconceivable, subtler than the subtle. He is far beyond what is far, and yet here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in the cave of the heart of conscious beings.


Brahman is not grasped by the eye, nor by speech, nor by the other senses, nor by penance or good works. A man becomes pure through serenity of intellect; thereupon, in meditation, he beholds Him who is without parts.


That subtle Ātman is to be known by the intellect here in the body where the prāna has entered fivefold. By Ātman the intellects of men are pervaded, together with the senses. When the intellect is purified, Ātman shines forth.


Whatever world a man of pure understanding envisages in his mind and whatever desires he cherishes, that world he conquers and those desires he obtains. Therefore let everyone who wants prosperity worship the man who knows the Self.

Chapter II


He, the knower of the self, knows that Supreme Abode of Brahman, which shines brightly and in which the universe rests. Those wise men who, free from desires, worship such a person transcend the seed of birth.


He who, cherishing objects, desires them, is born again here or there through his desires. But for him whose desires are satisfied and who is established in the Self, all desires vanish even here on earth.


This Ātman cannot be attained through study of the Vedas, nor through intelligence, nor through much learning. He who chooses Ātman—by him alone is Ātman attained. It is Ātman that reveals to the seeker Its true nature.


This Ātman cannot be attained by one who is without strength or earnestness or who is without knowledge accompanied by renunciation. But if a wise man strives by means of these aids, his soul enters the Abode of Brahman.


Having realized Ātman, the seers become satisfled with that Knowledge. Their souls are established in the Supreme Self, they are free from passions, and they are tranquil in mind. Such calm souls, ever devoted to the Self, behold everywhere the omnipresent Brahman and in the end enter into It, which is all this.


Having well ascertained the Self, the goal of the Vedantic knowledge, and having purified their minds through the practice of sannyāsa, the seers, never relaxing their efforts, enjoy here supreme Immortality and at the time of the great end attain complete freedom in Brahman.


The fifteen parts go back to their causes, and all the senses to their deities; the actions, and the ātman reflected in the buddhi, become one with the highest imperishable Brahman, which is the Self of all.


As flowing rivers disappear in the sea, losing their names and forms, so a wise man, freed from name and form, attains the Purusha, who is greater than the Great.


He who knows the Supreme Brahman verily becomes Brahman. In his family no one is born ignorant of Brahman. He overcomes grief; he overcomes evil; free from the fetters of the heart, he becomes immortal.


A Rik-verse declares: This Knowledge of Brahman should be told to those only who have performed the necessary duties, who are versed in the Vedas and devoted to Brahman, and who, full of faith, have offered oblations in the Ekarshi Fire and performed, according to rule, the rite of carrying fire on the head.


Thus the seer Angiras declared this truth in olden times. A man who has not performed the vow should not read it. Salutation to the great seers! Salutation to the great seers!

See Also

The Upanishads

Katha, Isa, Kena, and Mundaka

Translated from the Sanskrit with Introductions embodying a General Survey and the Metaphysics and Psychology of the Upanishads, and with Notes and Explanations based on the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya, the great Ninth-century Philosopher and Saint of India.

By Swami Nikhilananda

Full Text Online (PDF)

Translated by Swami Gambhirananda

© 2020 Universal Theosophy