Prashna Upanishad

The Prashna Upanishad is composed by 6 chapters, each containing one question (prasna) asked from Pippalada Rishi by one of his disciples Sukesha, Satyakama, Gargya, Kousalya, Bhargava and Kabandhi. The Six Questions which were ably replied to are about Creation of Universe and Methodology of Realisation; Prime Supports of Life and Praana; Origin and Destination of Mortal Life; From here to whither to!; Dream Control-mind or Soul!; Om- gateway to better life and beyond; and Shodasha Kalaas and Self like salt in water! The Prashnopanishad is an explanation of the mantras of Mundaka Upanishad covering Six Questions and Replies. The First three Questions are related to the extensive and intensive aspects of Rites and Meditation as also the fruits, even to the consequent surfeit and perhaps of repugnance. The Fourth Question elaborates the conceptualisation of ‘Brahma Tatva’ while the Fifth Question deals with the methodology of achievement and the Sixth One is the Climactic Realisation of the Enlightenment. The Prashna Upanishad contains six Prashna (questions), and each is a chapter with a discussion of answers. The first chapter contains 16 verses, the second contains 13 verses, the third contains 12 verses, the fourth contains 11 verses, the fifth contains 7 verses, and the sixth chapter contains 8 verses. This editions uses Shankara's commentary from the translation by S. Sitarama Sastri [Prashna Upanishad with Shankara’s Commentary(1928)].

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Shanti Mantra

॥ प्रश्नोपनिषद् ॥

ॐ भद्रं कर्णेभिः शृणुयाम देवाः¬। भद्रं पश्येमाक्षभिर्यजत्राः।

स्थिरैरङ्गैस्तुष्तुवा सस्तनूभिः। व्यशेम देवहितं यदायुः॥

स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः।स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः ।

स्वस्ति नस्तार्क्ष्योऽरिष्टनेमिः। स्वस्ति नो बृहस्पतिर्दधातु ॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

oṃ bhadraṃ karṇebhiḥ śṛṇuyāma devā । Bhadram paṣyemākśabhiryajatrāḥ ।

sthirairaṅgaistuṣtuvām̐sastanūbhi । Rvyaśema devahitaṃ yadāyuḥ ॥

oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ॥

Sloka : 1.1

ॐ सुकेशा च भारद्वाजः शैब्यश्च सत्यकामः सौर्यायणी

च गार्ग्यः कौसल्यश्चाश्वलायनो भार्गवो वैदर्भिः कबन्धी

कात्यायनस्ते हैते ब्रह्मपरा ब्रह्मनिष्ठाः परं

ब्रह्मान्वेषमाणा एष ह वै तत्सर्वं वक्ष्यतीति ते ह

समित्पाणयो भगवन्तं पिप्पलादमुपसन्नाः ॥ १॥

oṃ sukeśā ca bhāradvājaḥ śaibyaśca satyakāmaḥ sauryāyaṇī

ca gārgyaḥ kausalyaścāśvalāyano bhārgavo vaidarbhiḥ kabandhī

kātyāyanaste haite brahmaparā brahmaniṣṭhāḥ paraṃ

brahmānveṣamāṇā eṣa ha vai tatsarvaṃ vakśyatīti te ha

samitpāṇayo bhagavantaṃ pippalādamupasannāḥ || 1 ||

Sukêsa, son of Bhâradvâja, and Satyakâma, son of Sibi, and Gârgya, a son of the son of the sun, and Kausalya, son of Asvala, and Bhârgava of Vidarbha, and Kabandhî, son of Kâtya,—all these intent on Brahman and centred in Brahman, seeking the highest Brahman, approached the revered Pippalâda, samit (sacrificial fuel) in hand, thinking that he would explain all to them.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Om, adoration to the Paramâtman, This Brâhmana is begun for the purpose of explaining at length the drift that has been expressed by the mantras. The story of the sage questioning and the sage replying is for the purpose of eulogising knowledge. Thus it praises knowledge, by saying that it should be acquired by men who have been observing Brahmacharya and residing in the house of the preceptor for a year, and who have performed tapas, and that it should be imparted by preceptors but little short of omniscient, like Pippalâda, etc., and not by anybody whosoever; and by the indication of such means as Brahmacharya their observance is directed; Sukesa by name and son of Bhâradvâja; Saibyah, son of Sibi; Satyakâma by name; Sauryâyani ] the son of Sûrya (sun) is Saurya and his son is Sauryâyani. This form (with a long vowel ending) is Vedic license; Gârgya, one born of the family of Gârga; Kausalya by name. Âsvalâyana, the son of Asvala; Bhârgava, one born of the family of Bhrigu; strictly the gôtrâpatyam of Bhrigu (vide, Pânini); Vaidarbhi, born in Vidarbha; Kabandhî by name; Kâtyâyana, son of Kâtya; his great-grandfather being alive, the suffix denoting uva pratyayam is used (vide, Pânini). All these intent on Brahman, i.e., believing in the Apara Brahman as supreme and devoted to its practice seeking after the highest Brahman, i.e., wishing to attempt, as they could, to attain that eternal knowable, approached the worshipful preceptor Pippalâda, with loads of samit in their hands, for the purpose of knowing that, thinking that he would explain all to them.

Sloka : 1.2

तान्ह स ऋषिरुवाच भूय एव तपसा ब्रह्मचर्येण श्रद्धया

संवत्सरं संवत्स्यथ यथाकामं प्रश्नान्पृच्छत यदि विज्ञास्यामः

सर्वं ह वो वक्ष्याम इति ॥ २॥

tanha sa ṛṣiruvaca bhūya eva tapasā brahmacaryeṇa śraddhayā

saṃvatsaraṃ saṃvatsyatha yathākāmaṃ praśnānpṛcchata yadi vijñāsyāmaḥ

sarvaṃ ha vo vakśyāma iti || 2 ||

That seer said to them; as yet, live another year in tapas, Brahmacharya and faith; then ask us questions as you please and if we know, we shall, indeed, explain all to you.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.— The seer said to them, who had thus approached him, though you have already performed tapas by controlling your senses, still again, live another year here especially careful about Brahmacharya and faith and well intent on serving your preceptor; then, as you please, i.e., without restraining your desire, ask questions, every one of you, on subjects on which you may wish to know. If we know what is asked about (the word ‘if’ is intended to show that the preceptor was not conceited, not that there was any doubt as to his knowledge, as is apparent from his answering the questions), we shall explain to you all you ask about.

Sloka : 1.3

अथ कबन्धी कत्यायन उपेत्य पप्रच्छ ।

भगवन्कुतो ह वा इमाः प्रजाः प्रजायन्त इति ॥ ३॥

atha kabandhī katyāyana upetya papraccha |

bhagavan kute ha vā imāḥ prajāḥ prajāyanta iti || 3 ||

Then Kabandhî, having approached Kâtyâyana asked:- worthy master, whence are these creatures born?

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Then, i.e., after a year, Kabandhi having approached Kâtyâyana asked ‘Oh, worthy master, whence do these creatures, Brahmins and the rest, arise?’ This question is intended to elicit what results are attained and what path is gone through, by combining Aparavidya and Karma.

Sloka : 1.4

तस्मै स होवाच प्रजाकामो वै प्रजापतिः स तपोऽतप्यत

स तपस्तप्त्वा स मिथुनमुत्पादयते । रयिं च प्रणं

चेत्येतौ मे बहुधा प्रजाः करिष्यत इति ॥ ४॥

tasmai sa hovāca prajākāmo vai prajāpatiḥ sa tapo'tapyata

sa tapastaptvā sa mithunamutpādayate | rayiṃ ca praṇaṃ

cetyetau me bahudhā prajāḥ kariṣyata iti || 4 ||

To him he said:- ‘The lord of creatures, wishing for creatures, thought; and having thought out his thought created a pair—food and eater—thinking they would produce creatures for him variously.’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—To him who thus interrogated, he replied for solving the doubt. Wishing to create creatures out of himself, the lord of creatures, the âtman of all thinking to create the universe, acting according to the word filled with the thought, being Hiranyagarbha born at the beginning of this Kalpa and being the lord of all created beings and things immoveable and moveable, revolved in his mind the knowledge acquired in the previous birth, the drift of which is revealed by the srutis. Having thus brooded over the knowledge, imparted by the srutis produced a pair, a couple—necessary for creation,—the moon, i.e., food and prâna, fire (sun), i.e., the eater. Thinking that agni (sun) and the moon, i e., (the eater and the food) respectively would create diverse creatures, he created the sun and the moon, in the order beginning with anda (globe).

Sloka : 1.5

आदित्यो ह वै प्राणो रयिरेव चन्द्रमा रयिर्वा

एतत्सर्वं यन्मूर्तं चामूर्तं च तस्मान्मूर्तिरेव रयिः ॥ ५॥

ādityo ha vai prāṇo rayireva candramā rayirvā

etatsarvaṃ yanmūrtaṃ cāmūrtaṃ ca tasmānmūrtireva rayiḥ || 5 ||

The sun is life, indeed, and the moon, the food; all this having form and formless is food; so form is certainly food.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Here the sun is prâna, the eater, the fire the moon is the food, the moon is, indeed, food. This pair, the eater and the food really one, different aspects of the lord of creatures. The distinction is really one of secondary and primary. How? all this gross and subtle, is, indeed, in one aspect food, both having form and formless, the eater and the food. Therefore, when a dinner is made, i.e., what has form and what has not; (the former) is food being eaten by what is formless.

Sloka : 1.6

अथादित्य उदयन्यत्प्राचीं दिशं प्रविशति तेन प्राच्यान्प्राणान् रश्मिषु सन्निधत्ते ।

यद्दक्षिणां यत् प्रतीचीं यदुदीचीं यदधो यदूर्ध्वं यदन्तरा दिशो यत्सर्वं प्रकाशयति

तेन सर्वान्प्राणान्रश्मिषु सन्निधत्ते ॥ ६॥

athāditya udayanyatprācīṃ diśaṃ praviśati tena prācyānprāṇānraśmiṣu sannidhatte ।

yaddakśiṇāṃ yatpratīcīṃ yadudīcīṃ yadadho yadūrdhvaṃ yadantarā diśo yatsarvaṃ prakāśayati

tena sarvānprāṇānraśmiṣu sannidhatte || 6 ||

Now the sun rising enters the east. By that, he bathes, in his rays, all prâna in the east. When he lights up the south, the west, the north, the nadir, the zenith, the inter-space and all, by that, he bathes in his rays, all prâna.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Similarly, though formless the prâna, i.e., the eater, is all, and food also is prâna; how? Now the sun rising, i.e., becoming perceivable by the eyes of living beings, lights up the east with his light; by thus pervading all with his light makes all the lives in the east one with his own self, all living beings being pervaded by his all-pervading rays of light; similarly also, when he lights the south, the west, the north, the nadir, the zenith, the inter-space, the cardinal points and those between them, he bathes all lives in all those directions in his all-pervading light.

Sloka : 1.7

स एष वैश्वानरो विश्वरुपः प्राणोऽग्निरुदयते ।

तदेतदृचाऽभ्युक्तम् ॥ ७॥

sa eṣa vaiśvānaro viśvarupaḥ prāṇo'gnirudayate |

tadetadṛcābhyuktam || 7 ||

This is he, the totality of all living beings, assuming every form, life and fire, (who) rises (every day). This is told by the Rik.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This is he, the eater, life, the âtman of all, Assuming all forms, being the âtman of the universe, prana and fire. This is the eater, who rises every day making all cardinal points his own. This, now explained, has also been told by the mantra also.

Sloka : 1.8

विश्वरूपं हरिणं जातवेदसं

परायणं ज्योतिरेकं तपन्तम् ।

सहस्ररश्मिः शतधा वर्तमानः

प्राणः प्रजानामुदयत्येष सूर्यः ॥ ८॥

viśvarūpaṃ hariṇaṃ jātavedasaṃ

parāyaṇaṃ jyotirekaṃ tapantam |

sahasraraśmiḥ śatadhā vartamānaḥ

prāṇaḥ prajānāmudayatyeṣa sūryaḥ || 8 ||

Having all forms, shining, omniscient, the highest stay, sole-light, heat-giver, having a thousand rays, existing in a hundred forms, life of all creation, this sun rises.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Visvarûpam, having all forms; Harinam, shining; jâtavêdasam, omniscient; the highest stay] to whom all lives cling; sole-light] the eye, as it were of all living beings, having no second. Tapantam, giving heat. This sun, their own âtman, the knowers of Brahman, the seers have known. Who is it that they have known? Having a thousand rays, having many rays; existing in a hundred forms, i.e., existing in many forms in different living beings. This sun, the life of all creation, rises.

Sloka : 1.9

संवत्सरो वै प्रजापतिस्तस्यायने दक्षिणं चोत्तरं च ।

तद्ये ह वै तदिष्टापूर्ते कृतमित्युपासते ते चान्द्रमसमेव

लोकमभिजयन्ते । त एव पुनरावर्तन्ते तस्मादेत ऋषयः

प्रजाकामा दक्षिणं प्रतिपद्यन्ते । एष ह वै रयिर्यः

पितृयाणः ॥ ९॥

saṃvatsaro vai prajāpatistasyāyane dakśiṇaṃ cottaraṃ ca |

tadye ha vai tadiṣṭāpūrte kṛtamityupāsate te cāndramasameva

lokamabhijayante | ta eva punarāvartante tasmādeta ṛṣayaḥ

prajākāmā dakśiṇaṃ pratipadyante | eṣa ha vai rayiryaḥ

pitṛyāṇaḥ || 9 ||

The year is the lord of the creation; of it, two paths, the southern and the northern. Those who follow the path of karma alone, by the performance of sacrificial and pious acts, win only the world of the moon; they certainly return again; therefore, these sages desirous of offspring take the southern route. This is the food reached by the way of the manes.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How the pair—the moon, having form, the food and the prana, the formless, the eater, the sun, could create all creatures is explained. This pair alone is time, the year is the lord of creatures, because the year is accomplished by the pair which together are the lord of creatures; the year being a combination of tithîs, days and nights accomplished by the moon and the sun, is said to be of the nature of the pair, food and eater being no other than they. How is that? Of the year the lord of creatures, are two paths, the southern and the northern. These are the two well-known paths, each extending over six months, by which the sun goes south and north, distributing worlds among those who perform karma alone and those who combine karma with worship. The second tadu, i.e., the tadu in ‘tadupâsate’ is an adverbial adjunct. Those among the Brâhmins and the rest who follow only what is done, as Ishtam (sacrifices) and pûrtam (pious acts) and not what is not made, i.e., nothing eternal, attain the world of the moon, i.e., the world of food, a portion of the lord of creatures, who is both food and eater, the worlds of the moon being in the nature of one made, i.e., not eternal. They, after consumption there of what has been done, return, i.e., enter this world or something worse, as is said. As these devotees, i.e., the house-holders, the seers of heaven, desirous of offspring achieve as the fruit by the sacrificial and pious acts, the moon, i.e., the lord of creatures in the form of food; therefore, they attain what was performed by them, i.e., the food, i.e., the moon to which the southern route leads. This is the food, the moon, to which the route of the manes leads.

Sloka : 1.10

अथोत्तरेण तपसा ब्रह्मचर्येण श्रद्धया

विद्ययात्मानमन्विष्यादित्यमभिजयन्ते । एतद्वै


पुनरावर्तन्त इत्येष निरोधः। तदेष श्लोकः ॥ १०॥

athottareṇa tapasā brahmacaryeṇa śraddhayā

vidyayātmānamanviṣyādityamabhijayante । etadvai


parāyaṇametasmānna punarāvartanta ityeṣa nirodhastadeṣa ślokaḥ || 10 ||

Now, by the northern route, by tapas, Brahmacharya, faith and knowledge seeking after the âtman, they gain the sun. This is the stay of all lives, this is immortal, this is fearless, the highest goal; they do not return from thence. This is the obstacle. About that, is this (following) verse.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—By the northern route, they reach the sun, a part of the lord of creation, the prana, the eater. By what? by tapas, i.e., by control over the senses, more particularly by Brahmacharya, by faith and by knowledge regarding the self of the lord of creation, i.e., worship of Prajâpati; seeking after the self, i.e., the prana, the sun, the stay of the universe, i.e., realising the sun in the form ‘I am he,’ they gain, i.e., reach the sun. This is certainly the common abode of all lives, their support; this is immortal, i.e., indestructible and, therefore, fearless, not full of fear of increase or diminution like the moon. This is the highest goal of those who resort to mere worship and of those who combine karma and worship. They da not return from hence, as followers of mere karma do:- Hence, this is, the obstacle of the ignorant; for, the ignorant obstructed by the sun do not attain the year, i.e., the sun, i.e., the prana. He, the year, in the nature of time, is an obstacle to the ignorant About that, is the following verse.

Sloka : 1.11

पञ्चपादं पितरं द्वादशाकृतिं

दिव आहुः परे अर्धे पुरीषिणम् ।

अथेमे अन्य उ परे विचक्षणं

सप्तचक्रे षडर आहुरर्पितमिति ॥ ११॥

pañcapādaṃ pitaraṃ dvādaśākṛtiṃ

diva āhuḥ pare ardhe purīṣiṇam |

atheme anya u pare vicakśaṇaṃ

saptacakre ṣaḍara āhurarpitamiti || 11 ||

Having five feet, the father of all, having twelve forms, they say he is seated in a place higher than Dyulôka, full of water. These others say that the world is lodged in him, all knowing, ever moving with seven wheels and six spokes.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Having five feet] the five seasons are, as it were, the feet of the sun which is no other than the year. With these seasons as ‘feet,’ the year moves. This analogy makes but one of the hêmanta and the sisira seasons. Father] he is called father because he is the creator of all. Having twelve forms] the twelve months are the forms, i.e., limbs or component parts of the year. In a place higher than Dyulôka (sky), i.e., in the third heaven. Purishinam, full of water. They say] those who know Time say. The same, some others who know Time say, is omniscient; and that the world is fixed to the wheel of Time, ever on the move, in the form of seven horses and having six seasons. They say that all the universe is fixed there as spokes in a wheel. Whether having five feet and twelve limbs, or whether possessed of seven wheels and six spokes, in any view, the year, of the nature of Time, the lord of creation, in the form of the sun and the moon, is the cause of the universe.

Sloka : 1.12

मासो वै प्रजापतिस्तस्य कृष्णपक्ष एव रयिः

शुक्लः प्राणस्तस्मादेत ऋषयः शुक्ल इष्टं कुर्वन्तीतर

इतरस्मिन् ॥ १२॥

māso vai prajāpatistasya kṛṣṇapakśa eva rayiḥ

śuklaḥ praṇastasmādeta ṛṣayaḥ śukla iṣṭaṃ kurvantītara

itarasmin || 12 ||

The month is the lord of creation; its dark half is, indeed, the food; the light half, the prâna (eater). Therefore, the seers perform sacrifices in the light half; the others, in the other, i.e., the dark half.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The lord of creation, i.e., the year, in which this universe inheres, ends in its component part, the month. The month, indeed, the lord of creation above described, is also in the nature of a pair; of the lord of creation, i.e., the month, one portion, i.e., the dark half, is food, i.e., the moon. The other part, i.e., the light half, is the sun, the eater, the fire. Because, they see everything as prâna, marked by the light half; therefore, these seers who see the prâna, though performing sacrifices in the dark half, perform them, only in the light half, as they do not see the dark half, as distinct from prâna (the light half). But others see not the prâna and only see the unseeing dark half. Those others perform sacrifices, only in the dark half, though they do them in the light half.

Sloka : 1.13

अहोरात्रो वै प्रजापतिस्तस्याहरेव प्राणो रात्रिरेव रयिः

प्राणं वा एते प्रस्कन्दन्ति ये दिवा रत्या संयुज्यन्ते

ब्रह्मचर्यमेव तद्यद्रात्रौ रत्या संयुज्यन्ते ॥ १३॥

ahorātro vai prajāpatistasyāhareva prāṇo rātrireva rayiḥ

prāṇaṃ vā ete praskandanti | ye divā ratyā saṃyujyante

brahmacaryameva tadyadrātrau ratyā saṃyujyante || 13 ||

The day and night is, indeed, the lord of creation. Of that, the day is the prâna and the night, indeed, is the food. Those who combine with Rati (sexual intercourse) by day, spill prâna. That they combine with Rati by night is Brahmacharyam indeed.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—And that lord of creation, i.e., the month, culminates in his component parts, the day and night as before explained. Of him, the day is, indeed, prâna; the eater, the fire; the night, indeed, is food, as before explained. Those spill their prâna, i.e., the day, that is, waste it by separating it from the selves. Who? Those ignorant men, who by day have carnal intercourse with woman, who is the cause of sexual pleasures. This being so, the prohibition that it should not be done is a rule laid down by the way. If they have intercourse by night, in season, that is Brahmacharyam indeed. That being praiseworthy, the mandate that one should approach his wife during rita, in season, is also, by the way, enjoined. What is relevant here is this, i.e., the lord of creation in the form of day and night becomes such as corn, grain, etc.

Sloka : 1.14

अन्नं वै प्रजापतिस्ततो ह वै तद्रेतस्तस्मादिमाः प्रजाः

प्रजायन्त इति ॥ १४॥

annaṃ vai prajāpatistato ha vai tadretastasmādimāḥ prajāḥ

prajāyanta iti || 14 ||

Food indeed, is the lord of creation; from that, indeed is the semen virile; from that are all these creatures produced.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus modified in this order, food is the lord of creation. How? From that is semen virile, the seed in man, the cause of creation. From that, sprinkled in woman, these creatures, such as men, etc., are produced. What was asked for, from whence are creatures produced, has thus been determined, that these creatures are produced by couples, beginning with the sun and the moon and ending with the day and the night, through food, blood and semen virile.

Sloka : 1.15

तद्ये ह वै तत्प्रजापतिव्रतं चरन्ति ते मिथुनमुत्पादयन्ते ।

तेषामेवैष ब्रह्मलोको येषां तपो ब्रह्मचर्यं येषु सत्यं

प्रतिष्टितम् ॥ १५॥

tadye ha vai tatprajāpativrataṃ caranti te mithunamutpādayante |

teṣāmevaiṣa brahmaloko yeṣāṃ tapo brahmacaryaṃ yeṣu satyaṃ

pratiṣṭitam || 15 ||

Thus, those who follow the vow of the lord of creation produce couples. To them alone, is this Brahmalôka, in whom tapas, brahmacharyam and truth abide.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus, this being so. Of those householders (Vai and Ha are two particles, remembrances of well-known things), who obey the vow of Prajâpati (lord of creation), i.e., who approach their wives in due season, their visible fruits (in this world) is this. What? They produce a couple, i.e., son and daughter. The invisible fruits (pertaining to the future world) are also to them alone, performing sacrificial and pious acts and making gifts. This Brahmalôka, i.e., the world of the moon, to which the route of the manes leads, is to those in whom tapas, i.e., the vow of a snâtaka, etc., Brahmacharyam, i.e., abstinence from sexual intercourse except in season, and truth, i.e., abstinence from falsehood abide always without any deviation.

Sloka : 1.16

तेषामसौ विरजो ब्रह्मलोको न येषु जिह्ममनृतं न

माया चेति ॥ १६॥

इति प्रश्नोपनिषदि प्रथमः प्रश्नः ॥

teṣāmasau virajo brahmaloko na yeṣu jihmamanṛtaṃ na

māyā ceti || 16 ||

To them, is that Brahmalôka devoid of taint; in them there is no deceit, falsehood or dissimulation.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But to whom is that state of lower Brahman marked by the sun, reached by the northern route, untainted, i.e., pure, not tainted like the Brahmalôka of the moon, subject to increase and diminution, is explained. They in whom fraud does not exist, as necessarily it does in householders, resulting in many conflicting modes of conduct; those for whom-falsehood is not unavoidable, as it is in the case of householders on account of play, mirth, etc.; similarly, those in whom there is no dissimulation as in householders. Dissimulation consists in disclosing one’s self in one manner and acting otherwise. It is of the nature of duplicity in behaviour. To those men duly fitted, i.e., the Brahmachârin, the hermit and the sanyâsin in whom, from absence of cause, these faults, such as duplicity, etc., do not exist, is this untainted Brahmalôka, according to the means they employ. Thus, this is the goal of those who combine karma with knowledge (worship). The Brahmalôka previously explained and marked by the moon is for those who perform mere karma.

Sloka : 2.1

अथ हैनं भार्गवो वैदर्भिः पप्रच्छ भगवन्कत्येव

देवाः प्रजां दिधारयन्ते कतर एतत्प्रकशयन्ते कः

पुनरेषां वरिष्ठ इति ॥ १ ॥

atha hainaṃ bhārgavo vaidarbhiḥ papraccha bhagavankatyeva

devāḥ pracāṃ vidhārayante katara etatprakaśayante kaḥ

punareṣāṃ variṣṭha iti || 1 ||

Next Bhârgava of Vidarbha questioned him ‘Oh Bhagavan! How many Dêvâs support the creature? Which of them enlighten that? Who again is of all of them, the greatest.’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—It has been said that prâna is the eater, the lord of creation. This question is begun for the purpose of determining how he is such lord and eater in this body. Next Bhârgava of Vidarbha questioned him, Oh Bhagavan! how many Dêvâs (senses) mainly support the creature, i.e., the body? Which, among the senses divided into intellectual and active, manifest their glory outside. Who again of these is the greatest, i.e., the most important of these which are in the nature of cause and effect.

Sloka : 2.2

तस्मै स होवाच। आकाशो ह वा एष देवो वायुरग्निरापः

पृथिवी वाङ्मनश्चक्षुः श्रोत्रं च । ते प्रकाश्याभिवदन्ति

वयमेतद्बाणमवष्टभ्य विधारयामः ॥ २ ॥

tasmai sa hovācākāśo ha vā eṣa devo vāyuragnirāpaḥ

pṛthivī vāṅmanaścakśuḥ śrotraṃ ca | te prakāśyābhivadanti

vayametadbāṇamavaṣṭabhya vidhārayāmaḥ || 2 ||

To him he said, “This Dêva is the âkâsa, wind, fire water, earth, speech, mind, eye and ear. They revealing their glory say, ‘we hold together and support this body.’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—To him, who thus questioned, he replied:- ‘This Dêva is the âkâsa, wind, fire, water, earth, i e., these five great elements, Bhûtas, the constituent elements of the body and speech, mind, eye, ear and the rest, i.e., the senses of acting and the senses of intellect; these Devas of the nature of effects and instruments, manifesting their glory and competing for pre-eminence, say this body, this bundle of causes and effects, we hold together, as pillars do the vault, from going to pieces and chiefly support. The thought of each is that the body—the bundle—is supported by it alone.’

Sloka : 2.3

तान्वरिष्ठः प्राण उवाच मा मोहमापद्यथाहमेवैतत्पञ्चधात्मानं

प्रविभज्यैतद्बाणमवष्टभ्य विधारयामीति तेऽश्रद्दधाना बभूवुः ॥ ३ ॥

tānvariṣṭhaḥ prāṇa uvāca | mā mohamāpadyathā'hamevaitatpañcadhātmānaṃ

pravibhajyaitadbāṇamavaṣṭabhya vidhārayāmīti te'śraddadhānā babhūvuḥ || 3 ||

Prâna, the greatest, said to them, ‘Do not cherish this foolish vanity. I alone, having divided myself five-fold, hold this body together and support it.’ They did not believe.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Prâna, pre-eminent, said to them who were thus vain, ‘do not from want of discernment cherish this vanity; for, I alone hold together and support this body, having divided myself into five distinct conditions such as prâna, etc.’; and when he said he supported it, they did not believe in him and thought how it could be thus.

Sloka : 2.4

सोऽभिमानादूर्ध्वमुत्क्रामत इव तस्मिन्नुत्क्रामत्यथेतरे सर्व

एवोत्क्रामन्ते तस्मिंश्च प्रतिष्ठमाने सर्व एव प्रतिष्ठन्ते ।

तद्यथा मक्षिका मधुकरराजानमुत्क्रामन्तं सर्वा एवोत्क्रमन्ते

तस्मिंश्च प्रतिष्ठमाने सर्वा एव प्रातिष्टन्त एवं वाङ्मनश्चक्षुः

श्रोत्रं च ते प्रीताः प्राणं स्तुन्वन्ति ॥ ४ ॥

so'bhimānādūrdhvamutkrāmata iva tasminnutkrāmatyathetare sarva

evotkrāmante tasmim̐śca pratiṣṭhamāne sarva eva pratiṣṭhante |

tadyathā makśikā madhukararājānamutkrāmantaṃ sarva evotkramante

tasmim̐śca pratṣṭhamāne sarva eva pratiṣṭanta evaṃ vāṅmanaṣcakśuḥ

śrotraṃ ca te prītāḥ prāṇaṃ stunvanti || 4 ||

He from indignation seemed to ascend from the body, and when he ascended, all the others immediately ascended too; and when he was quiet they were quiet too, just as bees fly up when their king flies up and settle down when he settles down; so, mind, speech, eye, ear and the rest being pleased, praise Prâna.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—And he, Prâna, observing their want of faith, seemed to ascend from the body of himself from indignation. What followed when he seemed to ascend is made apparent by an illustration. Immediately after he ascended, all the other prânas, i.e., the eye and the rest began ascending and when he, Prâna, became inactive, i.e., did not ascend, all became quiet, i.e., settled down; just as in the world, the bees ascend after their king ascends and settle down when he settles down. As in the illustration, so here. Speech, mind, the eye, ear, etc., leaving their disbelief and knowing the glory or greatness of Prâna, grow delighted and praise Prâna.

Sloka : 2.5

एषोऽग्निस्तपत्येष सूर्य एष पर्जन्यो मघवानेष वायुः

एष पृथिवी रयिर्देवः सदसच्चामृतं च यत् ॥ ५ ॥

eṣo'gnistapatyeṣa sūrya eṣa parjanyo maghavāneṣa vāyur

eṣa pṛthivī rayirdevaḥ sadasaccāmṛtaṃ ca yat || 5 ||

As fire, this burns; this, sun; this, cloud; this, Indra; this, wind; this, earth; moon, Dêva and what has form, what is formless and what is immortal nectar.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How? This Prâna being fire, burns or flames; so this being sun, shines; so this being cloud, rains. Again this being Indra, protects the creatures and destroys, Asuras and Râkshasas. This is wind in its different forms, âvaha, pravâha, etc. Again this is Dêva, earth (supporter of all) and moon (nourisher of all). This is all that has form and all that is formless. This is also amrita which is the stay of all Dêvâs. In short,

Sloka : 2.6

अरा इव रथनाभौ प्राणे सर्वं प्रतिष्ठितम् ।

ऋचो यजूषि सामानि यज्ञः क्षत्रं ब्रह्म च ॥ ६ ॥

arā iva rathanābhau prāṇe sarvaṃ pratiṣṭhitam |

ṛco yajūm̐ṣi sāmāni yajñaḥ kśatraṃ brahma ca || 6 ||

As spokes in the nave of a wheel, so all is centred in Prâna. Riks, Yajur, Sâmams, sacrifices, Kshatriyas and Brâhmins.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As spokes in the nave of a wheel, all from sraddhâ (faith) down to name is centred in Prâna, while they endure; so also Rik, Yajur and Sâma Vêdâs, the three kinds of mantras, and what is accomplished by them, i.e., the sacrifice, the Kshatriyas, pro tectors of all and the Brahmins competent to perform sacrifices and other karma. Prâna is all this.

Sloka : 2.7

प्रजापतिश्चरसि गर्भे त्वमेव प्रतिजायसे ।

तुभ्यं प्राण प्रजास्त्विमा बलिं हरन्ति

यः प्रणैः प्रतितिष्ठसि ॥ ७ ॥

prajāpatiścarasi garbhe tvameva pratijāyase |

tubhyaṃ prāṇa prajāstvimā baliṃ haranti

yaḥ praṇaiḥ pratitiṣṭhasi || 7 ||

As lord of creatures, you move in the womb and yourself are afterwards born. These creatures bring offerings, Oh Prâna, to you who are sitting with the prânas.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again, being yourself the lord of creatures, you move in the womb and are born, being another embodiment of the father and the mother. That you are both father and mother is already established by your being the lord of creatures. The meaning is you Prâna, though one, are the âtman of all, in the guise of the forms of all bodies and souls. For you, Oh Prâna, these creatures, men and the rest, bring offerings through the apertures of the eyes, etc. As you are within all bodies along with the Prânas, i.e., the eyes and other senses, it is but proper they should bring you offerings. As you are the eater, all the rest is, indeed, food for you.

Sloka : 2.8

देवानामसि वह्नितमः पितृणां प्रथमा स्वधा ।

ऋषीणां चरितं सत्यमथर्वाङ्गिरसामसि ॥ ८ ॥

devānāmasi vahnitamaḥ pitṛṇāṃ prathamā svadhā |

ṛṣīṇāṃ caritaṃ satyamatharvāṅgirasāmasi || 8 ||

You are the best carrier to the celestials, the first oblation to the manes. You are the true active principle of the senses (prânas) which form the sap of the body.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Moreover, you are the best of the carriers of oblations to the Dêvâs such as Indra. The food given to the manes in the Nandi srâddha is prior even to that offered to the chief of the Dêvâs. You alone are the carrier of that to the manes. Besides, of the senses such as the eye, etc., (prânas) which are called atharva, and in whose absence the limbs are dried up, you are the active principle aiding in the support, etc., of the body.

Sloka : 2.9

इन्द्रस्त्वं प्राण तेजसा रुद्रोऽसि परिरक्षिता ।

त्वमन्तरिक्षे चरसि सूर्यस्त्वं ज्योतिषां पतिः ॥ ९ ॥

indrastvaṃ prāṇa tejasā rudro'si parirakśitā |

tvamantarikśe carasi sūryastvaṃ jyotiṣāṃ patiḥ || 9 ||

Oh Prâna, you are Indra, you are Rudra by valour; you are the protector; you move in the sky and you are the Sun, the lord of all luminaries.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.— Again, Oh Prâna, you are Indra, i.e., Paramêsvara (Lord of all). By valour, you are Rudra, destroyer of the world and you are the protector of the world, while it endures, by your mild aspect; you always move in the inter-space. By rising and setting, you are, indeed, the sun, the lord of all orbs of light.

Sloka : 2.10

यदा त्वमभिवर्षसि अथेमाः प्राण ते प्रजाः ।

आनन्दरूपास्तिष्ठन्ति कामायान्नं भविष्यतीति ॥ १० ॥

yadā tvamabhivarṣasyathemāḥprāṇa te prajāḥ |

ānandarūpāstiṣṭhanti kāmāyānnaṃ bhaviṣyatīti || 10 ||

When you rain, all round; then Oh Prâna, these, your creatures, sit delighted thinking there will be food at their desire.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—When you in the form of clouds, rain all round; then, having obtained food, these creatures put forth activity. Or, Oh Prâna, these, your creatures, being yourself and nourished by your food, become delighted with the mere sight of the rain you pour, thinking there will be food at their desire.

Sloka : 2.11

व्रात्यस्त्वं प्राणैकर्षिरत्ता विश्वस्य सत्पतिः ।

वयमाद्यस्य दातारः पिता त्वं मातरिश्व नः ॥ ११ ॥

vrātyastvaṃ prāṇaikarṣarattā viśvasya satpatiḥ |

vayamādyasya dātāraḥ pitā tvaṃ mātariśvanaḥ || 11 ||

Oh Prâna, you are unpurified, you are the fire called Ekarshi, eater, lord of all the existing universe; we are the givers of oblations, Oh Matarisvan! you are our father.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again, being first born and there being none other to purify you, you are unpurified. The meaning is you are, by nature itself, pure. Oh Prâna, you are the eater of all oblations being Ekarshi, i.e., fire well-known among the followers of the Atharva Vêda, by the name of Ekarshi. You alone are the lord of all the universe which exists. Or, the word ‘satpatih’ may be interpreted as ‘good lord.’ But we are the givers of oblations to be eaten by you. You are, Oh Mâtarisvan! our father; or, you are the father of Mâtarisvan, i.e., wind. Therefore, it is established that you are the father of all the universe.

Sloka : 2.12

या ते तनूर्वाचि प्रतिष्ठिता या श्रोत्रे या च चक्षुषि ।

या च मनसि सन्तता शिवां तां कुरू मोत्क्रमीः ॥ १२ ॥

yā te tanūrvāci pratiṣṭhitā yā śrotre yā ca cakśuṣi |

yā ca manasi santatā śivāṃ tāṃ kurū motkramīḥ || 12 ||

What form of yours is lodged in speech, what in the ear, what in the eye, and what in the mind continuous, make that propitious air do not ascend from the body.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—In short, what form of yours, lodged in speech moves the mouth of the speaker, what in the ear, what in the eye, and what united with the mind acts as volition, etc., make that passive, i.e., quiet. Do not make that unquiet, by ascending from the body.

Sloka : 2.13

प्राणस्येदं वशे सर्वं त्रिदिवे यत् प्रतिष्ठितम् ।

मातेव पुत्रान्रक्षस्व श्रीश्च प्रज्ञां च विधेहि न इति ॥ १३ ॥

इति प्रश्नोपनिषदि द्वितीयः प्रश्नः ॥

prāṇasyedaṃ vaśe sarvaṃ tridive yatpratiṣṭhitam |

māteva putrānrakśasva śrīśca prajñāṃ ca vidhehi na iti || 13 ||

All this is within the control of Prâna, as also what is in the third heaven. Protect us like a mother. Give us affluence and knowledge.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—In short, everything of enjoyment in this world, is under the control of Prâna; as also of all that which exists in the third heaven for the enjoyment of the Dêvâs, etc., Prâna alone is the lord or protector. Therefore, protect, as a mother does her sons. As all splendour pertaining to a Brahmin and Kshatriya are due to you, give us that affluence and knowledge originating in you. It has been thus determined that Prâna whose greatness or glory, as being all, has thus been disclosed by the eulogy of the prânas; such as speech and the rest is the lord of the creation, the eater.

Sloka : 3.1

अथ हैनं कौशल्यश्चाश्वलायनः पप्रच्छ । भगवन्कुत

एष प्राणो जायते कथमायात्यस्मिञ्शरीर आत्मानं वा

प्रविभज्य कथं प्रतिष्ठते केनोत्क्रमते कथं बाह्यमभिधते

कथमध्यात्ममिति ॥ १॥

atha hainaṃ kauśalyaṣcāśvalāyanaḥ papraccha | bhagavankuta

eṣa prāṇo jāyate kathamāyātyasmiñśarīra ātmānaṃ vā

pravibhajya kathaṃ pratiṣṭhate kenotkramate kathaṃ bahyamabhidhate

kathamadhyātmamiti || 1 ||

Then, Kausalya, son of Âsvala questioned him. ‘O Bhagavan! whence is this Prâna born? How does he come into this body? How does he stay dividing himself? By what does he ascend from the body? How does he support all external and how all within the body?

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Then, Kausalya, son of Âsvala questioned him. Though Prânas glory has been thus realized by the prânas, which had ascertained its real nature, it may still be that it is an effect, being a combination (samhata). Therefore, I ask, Oh Bhagavan! whence, i.e., from what cause, Prâna, thus determined, is produced and when produced, by what form of activity does he enter the body? The meaning is, what is the cause of his taking a body and when he has entered the body, how does he, dividing himself, stay? By what form of activity does he ascend from the body? How does he support what is external to the body, i.e., adhi bhûta and adhi daiva, i.e., the totality of elements and powers; and how, what is within the body.

Sloka : 3.2

तस्मै स होवाचातिप्रश्नान्पृच्छसि ब्रह्मिष्ठोऽसीति

तस्मात्तेऽहं ब्रवीमि ॥२॥

tasmai sa hovācātipraṣcānpṛcchasi brahmiṣṭho'sīti

tasmātte'haṃ bravīmi || 2 ||

To him he replied, ‘you ask questions about transcending things. I will answer thee, because you are a greater knower of Brahman.’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus questioned, the preceptor, said to him, Prâna himself, being difficult to know, is fit for intricate questioning. You question about the origin, etc., even of him. Therefore, you ask questions about transcending things. As you are eminently, a knower of Brahman, I am delighted and shall tell you what you ask about. Listen.

Sloka : 3.3

आत्मन एष प्राणो जायते । यथैषा पुरुषे

छायैतस्मिन्नेतदाततं मनोकृतेनायात्यस्मिञ्शरीरे ॥३॥

ātmana eṣa prāṇo jāyate | yathaiṣā puruṣe

chāyaitasminnetadātataṃ manokṛtenāyātyasmiñśarīre || 3 ||

This Prâna is born of the âtman. As this shadow in the man, so is this in the âtman. By the act of the mind, this comes into this body.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This Prâna spoken of is born of the âtman, i.e., of the highest purusha, undecaying and true. As regards the how of it, the following illustration (is offered). As in this world, when the figure of the man consisting of the head, hands, etc., is the cause, his shadow is produced as the effect; so in this Brahman the true purusha, is this principle named Prâna analogous to the shadow and falls in its nature recognized as the shadow in the body. It comes into this body by the act of the mind, i.e., through the karma, arising from volition, wish, etc., of the mind; for, it will be said later on ‘By virtue, virtuous world, etc.’ Another sruti also says, ‘Intent on that fruit he reaches it with his karma.’

Sloka : 3.4

यथा सम्राडेवाधिकृतान्विनियुङ्क्ते एतन्ग्रामानेतान्ग्रामानधितिष्टस्वेत्येवमेवैष

प्राण इतरान्प्राणान्पृथक्पृथगेव सन्निधत्ते॥४॥

yathā samrādevādhikṛtānviniyuṅkte | etangrāmānotānprāmānadhitiṣṭasvetyevamevaiṣa

prāṇa itarānprāṇānpṛthakpṛthageva sannidhatte || 4 ||

As the sovereign alone commands the officers, (under him) ‘stay in these villages and those,’ so this Prâna posts other prânas separately (at their respective posts).

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Just as in the world, the soverign alone posts officers under him to different villages; how? ‘Look to these villages and those.’ So, as pointed out in the illustration, the chief Prâna commands other prânas such as the eye, etc., and his own different manifestations to their respective posts.

Sloka : 3.5

पायूपस्थेऽपानं चक्षुःश्रोत्रे मुखनासिकाभ्यां प्राणः स्वयं

प्रातिष्ठते मध्ये तु समानः । एष ह्येतद्धुतमन्नं समं नयति

तस्मादेताः सप्तार्चिषो भवन्ति ॥ ५॥

pāyūpasthe'pānaṃ cakśuḥśrotre mukhanāsikābhyāṃ prāṇaḥ svayaṃ

prātiṣṭate madhye tu samānaḥ । eṣa hyetaddhutamannaṃ samaṃ nayati

tasmādetāḥ saptārciṣo bhavanti || 5 ||

The apâna stays in the two lower apertures. Prâna stays in the eye, ear, speech and nose. In the middle is samâna. He distributes the food supplied equally; so, these seven flames arise.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Of its division now; the apâna, an aspect of the chief Prâna, stays in the two lower apertures expelling urine and faeces, etc.; so in the eye and the ear and going out from the mouth and the nose, Prâna, occupying himself the place of the sovereign, stays. In the middle, i.e., between prâna and apâna, i.e., in the navel, samâna (so called, because he distributes food and drink saman, i.e., equally). As this distributes equally, the food and drink thrown into the fire of the body, these seven flames go out from the fire in the stomach fed by food and drink, and reaching the region of the heart through the apertures in the head. The drift is that the objects of seeing, hearing, etc., are enlightened through the prâna.

Sloka : 3.6

हृदि ह्येष आत्मा । अत्रैतदेकशतं नाडीनं तासां शतं

शतमेकैकस्या द्वासप्ततिर्द्वासप्ततिः


भवन्त्यासु व्यानश्चरति ॥ ६॥

hṛdi hyeṣa ātmā | atraitadekaśataṃ nāḍīnaṃ tāsāṃ śataṃ

śatamekaikasyā dvāsaptatirdvāsaptatiḥ


bhavantyāsu vyānaścarati || 6 ||

This âtman is in the heart. Here, there are a hundred and one nerves. Every one of these has a hundred brandies; again, every one of these has seventy-two thousand sub-branches. In these, vyâna moves.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—In the heart, i.e., in the âkâsa of the heart, enclosed within a lump of flesh of the form of a lotus, is this âtman, i.e., the subtle body connected with the âtman. Here, i.e., in the heart, are the chief nerves, a hundred and one in number. Every one of these chief nerves has a hundred branches. Every one of these branches has seventy-two thousand sub-branches. In these nerves, moves vyâna (so called, because he is all-pervading). Vyâna stays pervading the whole body through the going out from the heart everywhere within the body, as rays from the sun, especially in the joints, shoulders and vital parts. Growing active in the interim between the activities of the prâna and the apâna, it is able to perform deeds requiring great strength.

Sloka : 3.7

अथैकयोर्ध्व उदानः पुण्येन पुण्यं लोकं नयति पापेन

पापमुभाभ्यामेव मनुष्यलोकम् ॥ ७॥

athaikayordhva udānaḥ puṇyena puṇyaṃ lokaṃ nayati pāpena

pāpamubhābhyāmeva manuṣyalokam || 7 ||

Now by one nerve, udâna ascending, conducts to virtuous worlds by virtue, to sinful worlds by sin and to the world of men by virtue and sin combined.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—By one of these hundred and one nerves, i.e., by that nerve named sushumna which goes up, udâna moving in all portions, from the foot to the head, conducts one to virtuous worlds, such as the abode of the Dêvâs by virtuous deeds enjoined by the sâstrâs; by sinful deeds contrary to virtue, to sinful worlds, such as birth among horizontal creatures, i.e., beasts. By both equally combined, i.e., virtue and sin, to the world of men. ‘Conducts’ should be supplied.

Sloka : 3.8

आदित्यो ह वै बाह्यः प्राण उदयत्येष ह्येनं चाक्षुषं

प्राणमनुगृह्णानः । पृथिव्यां या देवता सैषा पुरुषस्यापानमवष्टभ्यान्तरा

यदाकाशः स समानो वायुर्व्यानः ॥ ८॥

ādityo ha vai bāhyaḥ prāṇa udayatyeṣa hyenaṃ cākśuṣaṃ

prāṇamanugṛhṇānaḥ | pṛthivyāṃ yā devatā saiṣā puruṣasyaapānamavaṣṭabhyāntarā

yadākāśaḥ sa samāno vāyurvyānaḥ || 8 ||

The sun, indeed, is the external prâna. He rises favouring the prâna in the eye. So the goddess of the earth attracts the apâna downwards. The âkâsa between is samâna. The wind is vyâna.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The sun is the well-known outward Prâna among the Dêvâs. He rises and by his light favours this prâna, lodged in the eye of the body, i.e., helps it with luminosity in the perception of forms. Similarly the well-known goddess presiding over earth, attracts or controls the activity of the apâna in the purusha and favours its action by pulling downwards; for, otherwise, this body, owing to its weight, may fall down, or being unimpeded, may fly up. The air in the âkâsa, in the middle, i.e., between the earth and heaven (by the word âkâsa, the wind in it is denoted, as those in a cot are denoted by the word cot) is samâna, i.e., favours samâna, samâna resembling it, in the fact of being enclosed within the âkâsa in the middle. The external wind, vâyu, generally because it resembles vyâna in pervading, favours vyâna. This is the drift.

Sloka : 3.9

तेजो ह वाव उदानस्तस्मादुपशान्ततेजाः । पुनर्भवमिन्द्रियैर्मनसि सम्पध्यमानैः ॥ ९॥

tejo ha vā udānastasmādupaśāntatejāḥ | punarbhavamindriyairmanasi sampadhyamānaiḥ || 9 ||

The external fire têjas verily is udâna. Therefore the fire being extinguished, one again enters another body with the senses clinging to the mind.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The general fire têjas, well-known and external, is the udâna in the body. The meaning is, that by its light, it favours the wind known as udâna as ‘udâna,’ fire in its nature, favoured by the external fire, causes the ascent from the body. Therefore, when a man’s natural fire is extinguished, then one should know that his life is spent, i.e., that he is dying; he enters another body. How? along with the senses such as speech, etc., clinging to the mind.

Sloka : 3.10

यच्चित्तस्तेनैष प्राणमायाति । प्राणस्तेजसा युक्तः सहात्मना

तथासङ्कल्पितं लोकं नयति ॥ १०॥

yaccittastenaiṣa prāṇamāyāti prāṇastejasā yuktaḥ sahātmanā

yathāsaṃkalpitaṃ lokaṃ nayati || 10 ||

Of what thought, by that he attains prâna, the prâna combined with udâna along with the âtman, conducts to the world thought of.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Of what thought he is at the time of death, by that thought, i.e., volition, he attains along with the senses, the prâna, i.e., he puts forth the activity of the chief Prâna. The meaning is that at the time of death, the activity of the senses having declined, he lives putting forth the activity of the chief Prâna alone. Then his relations around say ‘he breathes and lives’; and that prâna manifesting the activity of udâna (têjas); with the âtman ] with the owner, i.e., the enjoyer. The prâna manifesting the activity of the udâna alone, leads the enjoyer to worlds (bodies) thought of, according to the influence of virtuous and sinful karma.

Sloka : 3.11

य एवं विद्वान्प्राणं वेद न हास्य प्रजा हीयतेऽमृतो

भवति तदेषः श्लोकः ॥ ११॥

ya evaṃ vidvānprāṇaṃ veda na hāsya prajā hīyate'mṛto

bhavati tadeṣa ślokaḥ || 11 ||

The learned man who knows Prâna thus—of his offspring there is break and he becomes immortal; there is the following verse.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Of the learned man who knows Prâna thus i.e., with these attributes already described, about his birth, etc., the following fruits, both here and hereafter, are pointed out. The offspring, i.e., the son, the grandson, etc., of this knower, do not suffer break in continuity, and when the body falls having become one with Prâna, he becomes immortal (in a relative sense). The following verse (slôka) briefly explains this purport.

Sloka : 3.12

उत्पत्तिमायतिं स्थानं विभुत्वं चैव पञ्चधा ।

अध्यात्मं चैव प्राणस्य विज्ञायामृतमश्नुते विज्ञायामृतमश्नुत इति ॥ १२॥

इति प्रश्नोपनिषदि तृतीयः प्रश्नः ॥

utpattimāyatiṃ sthānaṃ vibhutvaṃ caiva pañcadhā |

adhyātmaṃ caiva prāṇasya vijñāyāmṛtamaśnute vijñāyāmṛtamaśnuta iti || 12 ||

Knowing the birth, the coming, the staying, and the five-fold sovereignty of Prâna and its stay in the body, one attains immortality; one attains immortality.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Birth] from the Paramâtman. Coming] coming into this body, by the activity of the mind. Staying] in the lower apertures and other places. Five-fold sovereignty] the posting, as by a sovereign, of the different aspects of Prana, in five forms. Its external manifestation] as the sun, &c. Within the-body] as eye, &c. Knowing Prâna thus one attains immortality (relative).

Sloka : 4.1

अथ हैनं सौर्यायणि गार्ग्यः पप्रच्छ भगवन्नेतस्मिन्पुरुषे

कानि स्वपन्ति कान्यस्मिञ्जाग्रति कतर एष देवः

स्वप्नान्पश्यति कस्यैतत्सुखं भवति कस्मिन्नु सर्वे

सम्प्रतिष्टिता भवन्तीति ॥ १॥

atha hainaṃ sauryāyaṇi gārgyaḥ papraccha bhagavannetasminpuruṣe

kāni svapanti kānyasmiñjāgrati katara eṣa devaḥ

svapnānpaśyati kasyaitatsukhaṃ bhavati kasminnu sarve

saṃpratiṣṭitā bhavantīti || 1 ||

Next Sauryâyani Gârgya questioned him ‘Oh Bhagavan! What in the man sleep? What wake in him? Which is the Dêvâ who sees dreams? Whose is this bliss? In which of them again are all of them fixed?’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Next Sauryâyani Gârgya questioned him:- Having thus exhausted by these three questions, all about Samsâra, the subject of Apara (lower) Vidyâ subject to modification, partaking of the nature of causes and effects and of ephemeral existence, the next three questions are asked in order that the Brahman, not partaking of the nature of causes and effects devoid of prâna, not perceivable by the mind, beyond the shot of the senses, bliss in its nature, free from misery, not subject to modification, undecaying, true, knowable by Para Vidyâ (higher knowledge), known as purusha, without and within all and unborn, may be known. Now, it was stated in the second Mundaka, that everything known to exist, proceeded from the undecaying Brahman, as sparks from the flaming fire, and that everything is absorbed into Brahman. What are all those existences which diverge from the Brahman? How again, thus existing in divergence are absorbed into it (Brahman) alone? What again are the characteristics of that Brahman? Now, in order to explain, these questions are imagined to be raised:- ‘Oh Bhagavan, in this man, having head, hands, etc., what senses sleep, i.e., cease to perform their functions? What again in this man wake, i.e., do not sleep, i.e., perform their functions? Of these distinguishable as effects and instruments, which Dêvâ sees dreams? Dream is seeing within the body, as if he were awake, by one who has turned away from waking consciousness. The drift is whether, that is accomplished by any Dêvâ, in the nature of an effect, or any in the nature of an instrument. And who enjoys the bliss (arising when the activity of the waking and the dreaming state ceases) clear, i.e., free from the stain of contact with the objects of the senses, consisting in the absence of all trouble (distraction) and unobstructed? Then, where are all these, their waking and dreaming activities having ceased, centred? i.e., where do these blend indistinguishably, like juice in honey and like rivers entering the ocean. It is but reasonable that these turned away from their own activities, like the scythe and other instruments, which have ceased to do their work, should separately rest, each in its own place. Whence does the supposition then arise, that the senses of man in sleep become all blended in one. The supposition of the questioner is certainly reasonable. As all the senses together, during waking, act on behalf of some lord and are dependent (on him), therefore their coalition in one is reasonable even in sleep, because of their dependence and acting together. Therefore, this question is certainly consistent with the supposition. Here the question ‘in which are all these centred?’ is asked by the questioner who wishes to know him, in whom all this bundle of effects and instruments is absorbed during sleep and Pralaya.

Sloka : 4.2

तस्मै स होवाच यथा गार्ग्य मरीचयोऽर्कस्यास्तं

गच्छतः सर्वा एतस्मिंस्तेजोमण्डल एकीभवन्ति ताः पुनः

पुनरुदयतः प्रचरन्त्येवं ह वै तत्सर्वं परे देवे मनस्येकीभवति

तेन तर्ह्येष पुरुषो न शृणोति न पश्यति न

जिघ्रति न रसयते न स्पृशते नाभिवदते नादत्ते नानन्दयते

न विसृजते नेयायते स्वपितीत्याचक्षते ॥ २॥

tasmai sa ho vaca yatha gārgya marīcayo'rkasyāstaṃ

gacchataḥ sarvā etasmiṃstejomaṇḍala ekībhavanti tāḥ punaḥ

punarudayataḥ pracarantyevaṃ ha vai tat sarvaṃ pare deve manasyekībhavati

tena tarhyeṣa puruṣo na śṛṇoti na paśyati na

jighrati na rasayate na spṛśate nābhivadate nādatte nānandayate

na visṛjate neyāyate svapitītyācakśate || 2 ||

To him, he said:- ‘Just as, O Gârgya, the rays of the setting sun all become one in this orb of light and go out again when he rises again, so all of these become one in the highest Dêvâ, i.e., the mind; then, therefore, the man hears not, sees not, smells not, tastes not, feels not, speaks not, takes not, delights not, abandons not, moves not; they say ‘he sleeps.’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—To him, the preceptor said:- ‘O Gârgya, hear what you ask for; just as the rays of the suit disappearing become all one in the orb of light, i.e., become one and indistinguishable, and when the same sun rises again and again become dispersed; as in this illustration, so all that crowd of objects and senses become one in the highest Dêvâ (having light) i.e., mind (as the eye and other senses are under the control of the mind, mind is said to be the highest sense), during sleep and become indistinguishable, like the rays in the orb of light, and when he wakes go out of the mind to perform their own functions, as the rays from the orb of light. As during sleep, the ear and other senses capable of knowing sound, etc., become, as it were, one in the mind, their activity as senses having ceased, therefore, during sleep this man called Dêvadatta, etc., hears not, sees not, smells not, tastes not, feels not, speaks not, takes not, delights not, abandons not, moves not; men of worldly understanding say ‘he sleeps.’

Sloka : 4.3

प्राणाग्नय एवैतस्मिन्पुरे जाग्रति । गार्हपत्यो

वा एषोऽपानो व्यानोऽन्वाहार्यपचनो यद्गार्हपत्यात्प्रणीयते

प्रणयनादाहवनीयः प्राणः ॥ ३॥

prāṇāgraya evaitasminpure jāgrati | gārhapatyo ha

vā eṣo'pāno vyāno'nvāhāryapacano yadgārhapatyātpraṇīyate

praṇayanādāhavanīyaḥ prāṇaḥ || 3 ||

The fires of prâna alone wake in this city. This apâna is the gârhapatya fire. Vyâna is the anvâhâryopachana fire. The prâna is the âhavaniya- fire, as it is taken from the gârhapatya fire.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—When the senses, the ear and the rest, are gone to sleep in this city, i.e., in this body of nine apertures, the five winds, prâna and the rest, called fires, being like fire, keep watch. This is their similitude with fires. This apâna is the gârhapatya fire. How is explained; just as, at the time of performing the agnihôtra, another fire named âhavanîya is obtained from the gârhapatya, so from the apâna during sleep, prâna, as it were, the âhavanîya fire is obtained. But Vyâna, emerging from the southern cavity of the heart is called the anvâhâryapachana, or the southern fire, from its connection with the south.

Sloka : 4.4

यदुच्छ्वासनिःश्वासावेतावाहुती समं नयतीति स समानः ।

मनो ह वाव यजमान इष्टफलमेवोदानः स

एनं यजमानमहरहर्ब्रह्म गमयति ॥ ४॥

yaducchvāsaniḥśvāsāvetāvāhutī samaṃ nayatīti sa samānaḥ |

mano ha vāva yajamāna iṣṭaphalamevodānaḥ sa

enaṃ yajamānamaharaharbrahma gamayati || 4 ||

(The priest) is he, samâna, since he distributes equally the oblations which are inspiration and expiration. The mind is the sacrificer; the udâna is the fruit of sacrifice; he leads the sacrificer every day to Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Here also, there is the priest officiating at the agnihôtra. Because, he distributes inspiration and expiration (which are, as it were, the agnihôtra oblations which are always double) for the support of the body; he is the officiating priest, as the carrier of the oblations, though already said to occupy the position of the fire (also). Who is this? He is samâna; therefore, even the sleep of the knower is the giving of oblation in agnihôtra. The drift, therefore, is that the knower should not be regarded as one performing no karma; for, it is said in the Vâjasanêyakôpanishad ‘even of him sleeping, all the Bhûtas always perform sacrifices.’ Here, having thrown the external senses and objects as oblations into the wakeful Prânâ-fires and wishing to reach the Brahman, as one who would wish to reach heaven, the fruit of the performance of agnihôtra, the mind, as sacrificer, wakes. Being known like the sacrifices as the most important of the effects and instruments, and having set out towards Brahman, as sacrificer to heaven, the mind is made the sacrificer. The fruit of the sacrifice is udâna; because, the realization of the fruits of sacrifice is due to udâna. How? The udâna causing the mind, the sacrificer, to cease his own activity, conducts him every day during sleep to the undecaying Brahman, as to heaven. Therefore, udâna occupies the place of the fruits of sacrifices.

Sloka : 4.5

अत्रैष देवः स्वप्ने महिमानमनुभवति । यद्दृष्टं दृष्टमनुपश्यति

श्रुतं श्रुतमेवार्थमनुशृणोति देशदिगन्तरैश्च प्रत्यनुभूतं

पुनः पुनः प्रत्यनुभवति दृष्टं चादृष्टं च श्रुतं चाश्रुतं

चानुभूतं चाननुभूतं च सच्चासच्च सर्वं पश्यति सर्वः पश्यति ॥ ५॥

atraiṣa devaḥ svapne mahimānamanubhavati | yaddṛṣṭaṃ dṛṣṭamanupaśyati

śrutaṃ śrutamevārthamanuśṛṇoti deśadigantaraiśca pratyanubhūtaṃ

punaḥ punaḥ pratyanubhavati dṛṣṭaṃ cādṛṣṭaṃca śrutaṃ cāśrutaṃ

cānubhūtaṃ cānanubhūtaṃ ca sccāsacca sarvaṃ paśyati sarvaḥ pasyati || 5 ||

In this state, this Dêvâ (mind) undergoes a variety of changes, sees again what it has seen, hears again whatever was heard, experiences again what it had experienced in different lands, and directions. What was seen and not seen, heard and not heard, experienced and not experienced, existent and non-existent, it sees; being all, it sees.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus, of the knower, from the time of the cessation of the activity of the ear to the time of his waking from sleep, till then he enjoys all the fruits of a sacrifice and not misery, as in the case of the ignorant. Thus, being a knower, is eulogised. For, it is not, alone, in the case of the knower, that the ear, etc., cease from activity, or the Prâna-fires keep watch, or the mind being free in the waking and dreaming conditions merges in the condition of sleep every day. It is well known that all living creatures pass through the waking, dreaming and sleeping conditions by turns. Therefore, this context must be regarded as praising the state of a knower (and not as laying down any rules). As regards the question, which of the dêvâs sees, dreams, he replies:- ‘When the ear, etc., cease activity’ and prâna and other airs keep watch for the support of the body before reaching the condition of sleep, during this interim, this dêvâ (mind) with the ear and other senses absorbed in it, like rays of the sun sees in dreams his own greatness, i.e., assumes diverse forms in the nature of subject and object. It may be urged that the mind is only the instrument of the enjoyer, i.e., the Âtman is enjoying the various forms and that it cannot be said to enjoy independently; for, it is the Âtman that is independent. This is no fault; for, the independence of the Âtman is due to its conditioning mind; for, the Âtman does not really in its own nature dream or wake. It has been said in the Vâjasanêyakôpanishad that its waking and dreaming are caused by its condition, mind. Combined with mind and becoming a dream, it seems to think and to move, etc. Therefore, the statement that the mind is independent in enjoying diverse forms is only logical. Some say that the selfluminosity of the Âtman will be marred during dreams owing to its combination with the condition, mind. That is not so. This false notion of theirs is caused by their ignorance of the drift of the srutis; because even all the talk that the Âtman is self-luminous, which endures only till emancipation, is produced by conditions such as mind and is within the pale of ignorance. Where there is something like another, then one sees something distinct from himself; of him there is no connexion with what is visible according to the sruti ‘ but where all becomes the Âtman alone, there who could be seen by whom, etc.?’ Therefore, this doubt arises only in those who know only the lower Brahman and not in those who know the one Âtman. It may be urged that, if this be so, then the distinction in ‘here, i.e., in dreams, this Purusha is self-luminous’ will become meaningless. It is here replied that what is stated is very little. The self-luminosity of the Âtman, enclosed in the cavity of the heart, according to the text ‘he who sleeps in the âkâsa, within the cavity of the heart, will be marred in a greater degree. If it be urged that though this is really a fault, still that half the burden, i.e., half the obstacle will be removed in the matter of the selfluminosity of the Âtman by assuming the absence of mind during dreams. This is not sound; for, even on that supposition, from the sruti, ‘ he sleeps in the nerve called, Purîtati,’ the notion of removing half the hindrance, in the matter of self-luminosity of the Âtman, is certainly false; because, even in sleep, the Âtman rests in the nerve called ‘Purîtati.’ How then is it said, ‘here, this Purusha is self-luminous.’ If it be said that as that sruti is found in another branch of the Vêdâs, it is not in point here, that is unsound; for, it is admitted that the purport of the srutis must be identical; and one Âtman being the subject of all Vêdântâs is desired to be taught and to be known. Therefore, it is right that the appropriateness of the assertion that the Âtman is self-luminous in dreams should be explained. Because, srutis serve to reveal the real truth. If this be so, hear the purport of the sruti, abandoning all conceit. Not by all who think themselves learned, could the drift of the srutis be known, even in a hundred years, by mere conceit. Just as the self-luminosity of the Âtman is not affected in sleep, because it is possible to represent him as distinguished from the âkâs of the heart, and the purîtati nerve where he sleeps, because he is not connected with them; so, the self-luminosity of the Atman, as distinct from the visible reminiscences of the observer, who is different from all effects and instruments and who sees, on account of ignorance, as separate objects, the reminiscences, which, as the result of karma, are left in the mind full of tendencies due to ignorance, desire and karma, cannot be marred even by the proudest logician. Therefore, it is properly said that when all the senses are absorbed in the mind and when the mind is not absorbed, the Âtman, as manômaya, sees dreams. How it realizes a diversity of experiences is explained. Whatever has been seen, such as friend, son, etc., the mind influenced by unconscious impressions thinks from ignorance that it sees the son, the friend, etc., produced from such impressions. Similarly, it seems to hear what has been heard, owing to such impressions; and from ignorance, it seems to experience what it has experienced in different lands and directions. Similaily, what was seen in this birth and what was not seen, i.e., what was seen in previous births; for, there can be no unconscious impressions of what was never seen; similarly, what was heard and not heard, and what was experienced in this birth by the mind alone, and what was not experienced, i.e., what was not experienced by mind alone in previous births what is existent such as real water and what is non-existent such as waters of the mirage; in short, sees all said and not said; being all, i.e., being conditioned by all the unconscious impressions of the mind, sees all. Thus, the mind, being in itself all the senses, sees dreams.

Sloka : 4.6

स यदा तेजसाऽभिभूतो भवति । अत्रैष देवः स्वप्नान्न

पश्यत्यथैतदस्मिञ्शरीरे एतत्सुखं भवति ॥ ६॥

sa yadā tejasā'bhibhūto bhavati | atraiṣa devaḥ svapnānna

paśyatyatha tadaitasmiñśarīra etatsukhaṃ bhavati || 6 ||

When it is overpowered with light, then this mind sees no dreams; thus then, the bliss arises in this body.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—When the Dêvâ, i.e., the mind, becomes overpowered, i.e., has all the outlets of these impressions closed by the light (lodged in the nerve) known as Pitta and pertaining to the sun, then the rays, i.e., the tendencies of the mind, become absorbed into the heart along with the senses. When the mind, like fire in a log of wood, pervades the whole body in its form, as general knowledge (as opposed to a special modification) then he sleeps. All that time, this Dêvâ named mind, does not see dreams, the door of vision being closed by light. Then, in this body, this bliss arises, which is knowledge unimpeded, pervading all body without distinction and clear.

Sloka : 4.7

स यथा सोम्य वयांसि वसोवृक्षं सम्प्रतिष्ठन्ते ।

एवं ह वै तत्सर्वं पर आत्मनि सम्प्रतिष्ठते ॥ ७॥

sa yathā sobhya vayāṃsi vasovṛkśaṃ saṃpratiṣṭhante |

evaṃ ha vai tat sarvaṃ para ātmani saṃpratiṣṭhate || 7 ||

Just as, good youth I birds go towards the tree intended for their abode, so, all this goes to the supreme Âtman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Then at this time, all the effects and instruments depending on ignorance, desire and karma become quiet. When they are quieted, the entity of the Âtman, misunderstood on account of its conditions, becomes one without a second, free from trouble and calm. To indicate this condition by the entering into the Âtman of the earth and other objects, produced by ignorance, the Sruti offers an illustration. This is the illustration. In the same manner, good-looking youth! that birds go to the tree intended for their abode; so, as in the illustration, all that will be said hereafter becomes absorbed into the supreme and undecaying Âtman.

Sloka : 4.8

पृथिवी च पृथिवीमात्रा चापश्चापोमात्रा च तेजश्च

तेजोमात्रा च वायुश्च वायुमात्रा चाकाशश्चाकाशमात्रा

च चक्षुश्च द्रष्टव्यं च श्रोत्रं च श्रोतव्यं च घाणं च

घ्रातव्यं च रसश्च रसयितव्यं च त्वक्च स्पर्शयितव्यं च

वाक्च वक्तव्यं च हस्तौ चादातव्यं चोपस्थश्चानन्दयितव्यं

च पायुश्च विसर्जयितव्यं च यादौ च गन्तव्यं च मनश्च

मन्तव्यं च बुद्धिश्च बोद्धव्यं चाहङ्कारश्चाहङ्कर्तव्यं च

चित्तं च चेतयितव्यं च तेजश्च विद्योतयितव्यं च प्राणश्च

विधारयितव्यं च ॥ ८॥

pṛthivī ca pṛthivīmātrā cāpaścāpomātrā ca tejaśca

tejomātrā ca vāyuśca vāyumātrā cākāśaścākāśamātrā

ca cakśuśca draṣṭavyaṃ ca śrotraṃ ca śrotavyaṃ ca ghrāṇaṃ ca

ghrātavyaṃ ca rasaśca rasayitavyaṃ ca tvakca sparśayitavyaṃ ca

vākca vaktavyaṃ ca hastau cādātavyaṃ copasthaścānandayitavyaṃ

ca pāyuśca visarjayitavyaṃ ca yādau ca gantavyaṃ ca manaśca

mantavyaṃ ca buddhiśca boddhivyaṃ cāhaṅkāraścāhaṅkartavyaṃ ca

cittaṃ ca cetayitavyaṃ ca tejaśca vidyotayitavyaṃ ca prāṇaśca

vidyārayitavyaṃ ca || 8 ||

Earth and its subtle form, water and its subtle form, fire and its subtle form, air and its subtle form, âkâsa and its subtle form, sight and its objects, taste and its objects, touch and its objects, speech and object, hands and what is to be handled, the organ of generation and what is to be enjoyed, the organ of excretion and what must be excreted, the feet and what is to be trodden on by them, mind and what must be thought, the intellect and what must be determined, egotism and its object, Chitta and its object, light and its object, and Prâna and what must be supported by it.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—What is that all? The earth gross, having five attributes and its cause, the rudiment of earth, i.e., the subtle form of smell, so water and the subtle form of water, fire and its subtle form, air and its subtle form, âkâsa and its subtle form, i.e., all gross and subtle Bhûtâs; similarly, the sense of sight and its objects, ear and its objects, nose and its objects, the palate and its objects, touch and its objects, speech and what must be said, hands and what must be handled, the organ of generation and what must be enjoyed, the organ of excretion and what must be excreted, feet and what must be reached; thus, all the intellectual and active senses have been mentioned. The mind already stated and its objects, the intellect consisting in determination and its objects, ahânkâra, i.e., the mind characterised by egotism and its objects, Chittam, i.e., the intelligent mind and its objects. Tejas ] The skin apart from the sense of touch, having light. Vidyôtayitavyam ] the objects enlightened by it. Prâna, what is called the sûtra, and what is strung on it, i.e., all the bundle of effects and instruments combined for the benefit of some other entity, having name, form, etc.

Sloka : 4.9

एष हि द्रष्टा स्प्रष्टा श्रोता घ्राता रसयिता मन्ता

बोद्धा कर्ता विज्ञानात्मा पुरुषः । स परेऽक्षर आत्मनि

सम्प्रतिष्ठते ॥ ९॥

eṣa hi draṣṭa spraṣṭā śrotā ghrātā rasayitā mantā

boddhā kartā vijñānātmā puruṣaḥ । sa pare'kśara ātmani

saṃpratiṣṭhate || 9 ||

This is the seer, toucher, hearer, smeller, taster, the thinker, the knower, the doer, the intelligent entity, Purusha. He becomes merged in the Supreme, undecaying Âtman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Then, the self which has entered here, like the sun in the water, etc., with the attributes of enjoyer and doer; this is the seer, toucher, hearer, smeller, taster, thinker, knower, doer, the intelligent self (Vignâna means the intellect being the instrument by which things are known). Here, it means, he who knows, i.e., the knower. Vignânâtma, of the nature of knower. The meaning is that he is a knower by his nature. Purusha, because full of, i.e., subject to the conditions above described, i.e., the nature of effects and instruments. And he enters into the supreme undecaying Âtman, the supporter of the universe, as the reflected image of the sun, etc., in water enters into the sun, etc.

Sloka : 4.10

परमेवाक्षरं प्रतिपद्यते स यो ह वै


शुभ्रमक्षरं वेदयते यस्तु सोम्य । स सर्वज्ञः सर्वो भवति

तदेष श्लोकः ॥ १०॥

paramevākśaraṃ pratipadyate sa yo ha vai


śubhramakśaraṃ vedayate yastu somya | sa sarvajñaḥ sarvo bhavati

tadeṣa ślokaḥ || 10 ||

The supreme, undecaying one, he surely attains. Who knows that, shadowless, bodiless, devoid of attributes, pure and undecaying. Who knows that good-looking youth! becomes omniscient and becomes all. There is this verse.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The fruits of one who realises the oneness of the âtman are stated. He surely attains the supreme, undecaying âtman, hereafter described. He who being freed from all desires, knows that, shadowless, i.e., free from Tamas or ignorance, bodiless, i.e., devoid of body subject to conditions of name, form, etc., alôhitam, i.e., devoid of all gunas (attributes) such as Rajas; because thus, therefore, pure; undecaying, because devoid of all attributes the eternal known as purusha having no Prâna, not perceivable by the mind, bliss in its nature and free from all misery, existing without and within all, unborn. Who renounces everything, good-looking youth! there can be nothing which is not known by him. Owing to ignorance he was not omniscient before; subsequently, by the removal of ignorance, by knowledge, he becomes all. The following verse briefly conveys the drift stated.

Sloka : 4.11

विज्ञानात्मा सह देवैश्च सर्वैः

प्राणा भुतानि सम्प्रतिष्ठन्ति यत्र।

तदक्षरं वेदयते यस्तु सोम्य

स सर्वज्ञः सर्वमेवाविवेशेति ॥ ११॥

इति प्रश्नोपनिषदि चतुर्थः प्रश्नः ॥

vijñānātmā saha devaiśca sarvaiḥ

prāṇābhutāni saṃpratiṣṭhanti yatra |

tadakśaraṃ vedayate yastu somya

sa sarvajñaḥ sarvamevāviveśeti || 11 ||

Who knows, good-looking youth ! the undecaying Âtman in whom the knowing self with all the dêvâs, the Prânas, and the five elements are centred. He, the omniscient, enters, indeed, into all.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Who knows good-looking youth! the undecaying Âtman, into which the knowing self with alt the Dêvâs, such as fire and the rest, the Prânas, i.e., the eye and the rest and the Bhûtâs, such as the earth, etc., enter; he being omniscient enters, indeed, into all.

Sloka : 5.1

अथ हैनं शैब्यः सत्यकामः पप्रच्छ । स यो ह

वै तद्भगवन्मनुष्येषु प्रायणान्तमोङ्कारमभिध्यायीत

कतमं वाव स तेन लोकं जयतीति॥ १॥

तस्मै स होवाच ।

atha hainaṃ saibyaḥ satyakāmaḥ papraccha | sa yo ha

vai tabhdagavanmanuṣyeṣu prāyaṇāntamoṅkāramabhidhyāyīta

katamaṃ vāva sa tena lokaṃ jayatīti

tasmai sa hovāca || 1 ||

Then, Satyakâma, son of Sibi, questioned him:- “Oh Bhagavan! what world does he, who among mortals meditates on ‘Om’ till death, win by that?” To him he replied.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com,—Satyakâma, son of Sibi, questioned him. Now the Prasna is begun for the purpose of enjoining the worship of the syllable ‘Om,’ as a means to the attainment of the Para (higher) and Apara (lower) Brahman, Oh Bhagavan. Who among mortals, like a wonder, until death meditates upon the syllable ‘Om,’ (the word meditation is the continuous contemplation as Âtman of the letter ‘Om’ regarded as Brahman by courtesy, by one whose senses are turned away from external objects and whose mind is composed, the course of such meditation not being vitiated by other or dissimilar states of consciousness and being ready like the flame of a lamp in an airless place). Who thus maintains a vow for life and combines in him truth, abstinence from sexual pleasures, abstinence from cruelty, absence of acceptance, renunciation, sanyâsam, cleanliness, cheerfulness, absence of fraud and many other kinds of forbearance and religious observance. What world, for there are many worlds to be won by worship and karma, does he attain by thus meditating on ‘Om.’ To him who had thus questioned, he, Pippalâda replied.

Sloka : 5.2

एतद्वै सत्यकाम परं चापरं च ब्रह्म यदोङ्कारः ।

तस्माद्विद्वानेतेनैवायतनेनैकतरमन्वेति ॥ २॥

etadvai satyakāma paraṃ cāparaṃ ca brahma yadoṅkāraḥ |

tasmādvidvānetenaivāyatanenaikataramanveti || 2 ||

The syllable ‘Om’ is verily the higher and lower Brahman. Therefore, the knower, by this means, surely reaches either of them.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This Brahman—the higher Brahman, true, undecaying, known as Purusha, and the lower Brahman known as Prâna, the first-born—is, indeed, the syllable ‘Om’; for, the syllable ‘Om’ is its Pratika, substitute. The higher Brahman, not capable of being indicated by words, etc., and devoid of all distinguishing attributes, is, therefore, being beyond the reach of the senses, incapable of being comprehended by the mere mind. But to those worshippers who contemplate on the syllable ‘Om’ as upon the image of Vishnu, etc., and regard it as a substitute for Brahman, the Para Brahman is understood to reveal itself, from the authority of the sâstrâs; so too the lower Brahman. Therefore, it is by courtesy, that Brahman, the higher and the lower, is said to be the syllable ‘Om.’ Therefore, he who knows thus, attains either the higher or the lower Brahman, by this very means to the attainment of the âtman, i.e., by the meditation on ‘Om.’ For the syllable ‘Om’ is the nearest stay of Brahman.

Sloka : 5.3

स यध्येकमात्रमभिध्यायीत स तेनैव संवेदितस्तूर्णमेव

जगत्याभिसम्पध्यते । तमृचो मनुष्यलोकमुपनयन्ते स तत्र

तपसा ब्रह्मचर्येण श्रद्धया सम्पन्नो महिमानमनुभवति ॥ ३॥

sa yadhyekamātramabhidhyāyīta sa tenaiva saṃveditastūrṇameva

jagatyābhisaṃpadhyate । tamṛco manuṣyalokamupanayante sa tatra

tapasā brahmacaryeṇa śraddhayā saṃpanno mahimānamanubhavati ॥ 3 ॥

If he meditate on one mâtra (measure) of it, he, by that enlightened, soon comes to earth. The riks conduct him to the world of men. He, there combined with tapas, Brahmacharya and faith, experiences greatness.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Though he may not know the division of all the mâtras (measures) of the syllable ‘Om’, still he surely reaches the excellent goal by virtue of the meditation on the syllable ‘Om’. One who depends entirely on the syllable ‘Om’ does not, by the defect of a partial knowledge of it, attain evil, as one, who has fallen from both karma and knowledge. Even if he constantly meditates on ‘Om’ knowing it only as one mâtra, he enlightened by that meditation of ‘Om,’ with only one mâtra, soon reaches the earth. What? The world of men; for, many are the births possible in this earth. Of these, the riks take the worshipper only to the world of men. The first only mâtra of the letter ‘Om’ meditated on is the Rig Veda. By that, in his birth as man, he becomes pre-eminent among the twice-born and combining tapas, Brahmacharya and faith experiences greatness, i.e., does not become an unbeliever, acting according to pleasure. One who has fallen from yôga never attains a bad goal. Note.—By the meditation of ‘Om,’ as one mâtra, some mean the meditation on the letter ‘A’ alone of the syllable. Others again, take it to mean the contemplation on the whole syllable ‘Om,’ but pre-eminence being given only to one mâtra.

Sloka : 5.4

अथ यदि द्विमात्रेण मनसि सम्पध्यते सोऽन्तरिक्षं यजुर्भिरुन्नीयते सोमलोकम् ।

स सोमलोके विभूतिमनुभूय पुनरावर्तते ॥ ४॥

atha yadi dvimātreṇa manasi saṃpadhyate so'ntarikśaṃ yajurbhirunnīyate somalokam |

sa somaloke vibhutimanubhūya punarāvartate || 4 ||

But if he meditates on its second mâtra only, he becomes one with mind. He is conducted into intermediate space—the world of the moon—by yajus. Having enjoyed greatness there, he returns again.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Now again, if he meditates on the syllable ‘Om,’ by its second mâtra, he becomes one with the moon, of the nature of dreams, in the form of Yajur Vêda, worthy of meditation. Thus become immortal] is taken by the yajus representing the second mâtra to the lunar world, the support of antariksha,. intermediate space, and representing the second mâtra. The meaning is that he is taken by the yajus to be born in the lunar world. Haying there, in the lunar world, enjoyed greatness returns again to the world of men.

Sloka : 5.5

यः पुनरेतं त्रिमात्रेणोमित्येतेनैवाक्षरेण परं पुरुषमभि-

ध्यायीत स तेजसि सूर्ये सम्पन्नः । यथा पादोदरस्त्वचा

विनिर्मुच्यत एवं ह वै स पाप्मना विनिर्भुक्तः स

सामभिरुन्नीयते ब्रह्मलोकं स एतस्माज्जीवघनात्परात्परं

पुरुशयं पुरुषमीक्षते । तदेतौ श्लोकौ भवतः ॥ ५॥

yaḥ punaretaṃ trimātreṇomityetenaivākśareṇa paraṃ puruṣamabhi

dhyāyīta sa tejasi sūrye saṃpannaḥ | yathā pādodarastvacā

vinirbhucyata evaṃ ha vai sa pāpmanā vinirbhuktaḥ sa

sāmabhirunnīyate brahmalokaṃ sa etasmājjīvaghanātparātparaṃ

puruśayaṃ puruṣamīkśate | tadetau ślokau bhavataḥ || 5 ||

But if he meditates on the supreme Purusha by this very letter ‘Om,’ of three mâtras, he becomes united with the bright sun. Just as the snake puts off its skin, even so he is freed from sin. He is conducted by sâma to the world of Brahma. He sees the supreme Purusha beyond this, dense with life and lodged in the heart of all. There are the two following verses.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But he who meditates upon the supreme Purusha within the sun, by this pratîka, i.e., substitute, i.e., by the syllable ‘Om’ with the knowledge that it is of three mâtras, by such meditation becomes united with the sun. According to the context, the syllable ‘Om’ must be taken to be a help, being a Pratîka or substitute, from the declaration of its identity with the Brahman, higher and lower, according to the sruti. Otherwise, the accusative case of ‘Om’ used in many places, will be objectionable. Though by the use of the third case, the syllable ‘Om’ may be understood as a kârana, i.e., instrument, still agreeably to the context, it must be read as if in the accusative case, the meaning then being, ‘let one meditate upon the syllable of three mâtras as the supreme Purusha.’ According to the maxim ‘you may abandon one for the benefit of a whole family’ the instrumental case should be here given up for the accusative case used in previous passages. By such meditation, he becomes united with the bright sun. Then, even if he dies while meditating, he does not return from the solar world as from the lunar, but is for ever united with the sun. Just as the snake puts off its skin and becomes new again, its skin having been peeled off, so—as in this illustration—this man being freed from the impurity of sin, analogous to the skin, is conducted up, by the sâmans representing the third mâtra, to the world of Brahma, i.e., Hiranyagarbha called Satya. He, Hiranyagarbha is the âtman of all the jîvas travelling in samsâra; for, he is the internal âtman of all living beings in the subtle form; and in him the subtle âtman are all the jîvas strung together. So he is jîvaghana (dense with lives). The knower of the syllable ‘Om’ of the three mâtras sees the Purusha called Paramâtman beyond this Hiranyagarbha and sees him by meditation as lodged in all bodies. The following two verses make the drift stated clear.

Sloka : 5.6

तिस्रो मात्रा मृत्युमत्यः प्रयुक्ता

अन्योन्यसक्ताः अनविप्रयुक्ताः ।

क्रियासु बाह्याभ्यन्तरमध्यमासु

सम्यक्प्रयुक्तासु न कम्पते ज्ञः ॥ ६॥

tisro mātrā mṛatyumatyaḥ prayuktā

anyonyasaktāḥ anaviprayuktāḥ |

kriyāsu bāhyābhyantaramadhyamāsu

samyakprayuktāsu na kampate jñaḥ || 6 ||

When the three mâtras, each of which leads to death by itself, are joined one to another in close union and used in well-performed actions, external, internal and intermediate, the knower does not shake.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The mâtras of the syllable ‘Om’ three in number, i.e., a, u, and m are subject to death; that is, are not beyond the pale of death; but when used in meditating on the âtman in combination, the syllable ‘Om,’ with the three mâtras, being used at the time of contemplation by the worshipper, in respect of every one of the three aspects of Brahman. Contemplated, i.e., the Vaisvânara or Visva representing the waking condition, the Hiranyagarbha or Taijasa representing the dreaming condition and the Isvara or Prâgna representing the sleeping condition, the person meditating who knows this division of the mâtras of ‘Om’ does not shake. One who knows this, cannot possibly be shaken; because, the Purushas representing the waking, dreaming and sleeping states, with their respective places, are seen as one, with the letter ‘Om’ of three mâtras; such a knower having become the Âtman of all and one with ‘Om’ from whence could he move and where?

Sloka : 5.7

ऋग्भिरेतं यजुर्भिरन्तरिक्षं

सामभिर्यत्तत्कवयो वेदयन्ते ।

तमोङ्कारेणैवायतनेनान्वेति विद्वां-

न्यत्तच्छान्तमजरममृतमभयं परं चेति ॥ ७॥

इति प्रश्नोपनिषदि पञ्चमः प्रश्नः ॥

ṛgbhiretaṃ yajurbhirantarikśaṃ

sāmabhiryattatkavayo vedayante |

tamoṅkāreṇaivāyatanenānveti vidvā

nyattacchāntamajaramamṛtamabhayaṃ paraṃ ceti || 7 ||

By riks this world, by yajus the antariksha and by sâman that which the seers know (the Brahmalôka); by the very aid of the letter ‘Om,’ the knower reaches these and also that which is quiet, undecaying, deathless, fearless and supreme.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The second verse is intended to state the whole drift briefly. By riks this world where men live, by yajus, the antariksha, i.e., the world presided over by the moon. By sâma that which the knowers alone and not the ignorant know as the third world, the world of Brahma. This threefold world, pertaining to the lower Brahman the knower reaches by the help of the syllable ‘0m.’ That, i.e., the highest Brahman, undecaying, true, called Purusha, quiet, i.e., devoid of all the characteristics of the universe, such as waking, dreaming, sleeping, etc., therefore undecaying, i.e., free from old age or decay, deathless, fearless, because devoid of decay and modification and supreme, i.e., unsurpassable because fearless, even that, by the syllable ‘Om,’ a help to that attainment, the knower reaches. The word iti is used to show that the sentence ends.

Sloka : 6.1

अथ हैनं सुकेशा भारद्वाजः पप्रच्छ । भगवन्हिरण्यनाभः

कौसल्यो राजपुत्रो मामुपेत्यैतं प्रश्नमपृच्छत षोडशकलं

भारद्वाज पुरुषं वेत्थ । तमहं कुमारम्ब्रवं नाहमिमं वेद

यद्यहमिममवेदिषं कथं ते नावक्ष्यमिति, समूलो वा

एष परिशुष्यति योऽनृतमभिवदति तस्मान्नार्हाम्यनृतं वक्तुम् ।

स तूष्णीमेव रथमारुह्य प्रवव्राज । तं त्वा पृच्छामि क्वासौ

पुरुष इति ॥ १॥

atha hainaṃ sukeśā bhāradvājaḥ papraccha | bhagavanhiraṇyanābhaḥ

kausalyo rājaputro māmupetyaitaṃ praśnamapṛcchata ṣoḍaśakalaṃ

bhāradvāja puruṣaṃ vettha tamahaṃ kumārambruvaṃ nāhamimaṃ veda

yadhyahamimamavediṣaṃ kathaṃ te nāvakśyamiti samūlo vā

eṣa pariśuṣyati yo'nṛtamabhivadati tasmānnārhamyanṛtaṃ vaktum

sa tūṣṇīṃ rathamāruhya pravavrāja | taṃ tvā pṛcchāmi kvāsau

puruṣa iti || 1 ||

Then Sukêsa, son of Bhâradvâja questioned him “Oh Bhagavan, Hiranyagarbha of Kôsala, son of a king, approached me and asked me this question ‘Oh Bhâradvâja, knowest thou the Purusha of sixteen kalâs (parts)?’ I replied to the lad ‘I know this not, if I knew him, how should I not tell thee? He who utters a falsehood is certainly dried up, root and all; therefore, I dare not utter falsehood.’ He got into the chariot and went away in silence. That I ask you. Where is that Purusha?”

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Then Sukêsa, son of Bhâradvâja questioned him:- “It has been stated that all the universe in the nature of effects and causes, together with the knowing self, enters into the supreme, undecaying self, during sleep. It will be clear by necessary implication that the whole universe enters into that undecaying âtman alone, even in pralaya and that it is produced from thence. For, the absorption an effect into what is not its cause is inappropriate. It has also been said that this Prâna is born of the âtman. The settled meaning of all the Upanishads is that the highest consummation results from the knowledge of that which is the cause of the universe. It has also been subsequently said ‘he, all-knowing, becomes all.’ It should be stated where then that undecaying, true âtman, known as Purusha, is to be known; for that purpose, this question is asked.” The recital of the anecdote is for the purpose of stimulating those, who wish for emancipation, to special activity, in attaining knowledge by proclaiming the difficulty of attaining it. “Oh Bhagavan! the son of a king, warrior by caste, born in Kôsala, and named Hiranyagarbha approached me and asked me the following questions:- ‘Oh Bhâradvâja, do you know the Purusha of sixteen kalâs, that is the Purusha in whom, the kalâs, i.e., parts as it were, sixteen in number, are superposed by ignorance.” I told the prince who questioned me ‘I know not him of whom you ask.’ I told him the reason of my ignorance as he did not believe that I was ignorant, though I had thus replied. ‘If at all I knew the Purusha, whom you ask about, how should I not tell it to you, a supplicant, eminently possessing the qualities of a true disciple?’ Seeing again that he did not appear to believe, I said to make him believe, ‘he who making his âtman what it is not, speaks what is not true, is dried up, root and all, i.e., is destroyed both in this world and in the next. As I know this, I dare not, like an ignorant man, speak an untruth.’ The prince thus made to believe, silently touched with shame, got into the chariot and went back the way he came. Therefore, it is established that knowledge should be imparted by the knower to one who has approached him duly and is worthy of it (knowledge); and that falsehood should not be uttered under any circumstances. I ask you about that Purusha who is in my heart, as a knowable, i.e., (being unknown) like a shaft. Where is this Purusha who should be known?

Sloka : 6.2

तस्मै स होवाच इहैवान्तःशरीरे सोम्य स पुरुषो

यस्मिन्नेताः षोडशकलाः प्रभवन्तीति ॥ २॥

tasmai sa hovāca | ihaiivāntaḥśarīre sobhya sa puruṣo

yasminnatāḥ ṣoḍaśakalāḥ prabhavantīti || 2 ||

To him he replied:- ‘even here, within the body, good-looking youth! is that Purusha of whom these sixteen kalâs are born.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—To him he replied:- ‘even here, within the body, i.e., in the âkâsa of the lotus of the heart, O good-looking youth! is that Purusha to be sought for not in other places; of whom these sixteen kalâs, to be hereafter named, Prâna and the rest are born. By ignorance, the Purusha though devoid of parts, is seen as one having parts, by virtue of the sixteen kalâs which are its conditions. In order that the Purusha may be seen as unconditioned, by means of knowledge and by the elimination of the kalâs, which are conditions super-imposed upon him, it is said that the kalâs, prâna, etc., have their origin in him. As it is not possible, except by superposition to speak of the unconditioned, the one and the pure entity as attainable, etc., the origin, the support, and the destruction of kalâs, subject of ignorance, are superimposed upon it. It is always seen that the kalâs, which are observed to arise, exist and disappear, are not different from intelligence. It is why some ignorant persons maintain that intelligence is every moment born and destroyed in the form of pot, etc., as the ghee by its contact with fire. Some others hold that when it is controlled, everything is void as it were. Some others think that the knowledge of pots, etc., is an ephemeral property which rises and disappears in the eternal knower who is the Âtman. The materialists hold that intelligence is an attribute of matter; the true theory is that the âtman is intelligence itself, knowing no diminution or decay, and shines in assumed conditions of name and form; for, the srutis say “Brahman is existence, knowledge and infinity”; “Brahman is knowledge; Brahman is knowledge and bliss.” He is dense with knowledge, &c. While the objects change their form, the intelligence which cognises them in their various changes, does not change, as it cognises every change in the objects. It cannot be said that there exists an object but it cannot be known. It is like saying that there is no eye, although the form is apprehended. Knowledge may exist, where there is no object to be known; but the object never exists without knowledge; for, knowledge if it does not exist, with reference to any particular knowable, exists in regard to other knowables; but where there is no knowledge, there can be no knowable. As there is neither knowledge nor knowable in sleep, it may be contended that even knowledge disappears where there are no knowable objects. This cannot be. As the function of knowledge, like that of light, is to illumine the knowable, it cannot be inferred that there is no knowledge in sleep, as there is no knowable to be illumined by it, as the absence of light cannot be argued from the absence of objects which it could illumine; for, the non-existence of sight cannot be argued by the Vainâsikas from the fact that no form is seen in the midst of darkness. It may be urged that the Vainâsika postulates the absence of knowledge in the absence of the knowable. But the Vainâsika must reply by what process he could argue out the absence of that knowledge, by which he was able to posit the absence of all knowables. The absence of the knowable, being itself a fact to be known, it cannot be known in the absence of knowledge. It may be argued that as knowledge is not distinct from the knowable, there can be no knowledge where there is no knowable. This cannot hold, as it is admitted, that abhâva (non-existence) is as much a knowable. The Vainâsikas concede that abhâva (non-existence) is permanent and knowable. If, therefore, knowledge is not distinct from the knowable, knowledge will be made permanent. As the non-existence (abhâva) of knowables is ex hypothesi of the nature of knowledge, the term ‘non-existence’ is only a misnomer, not a reality; as also the transient nature of knowledge. There is no harm done to knowledge which is permanent by its being verbally described as non-existence, i.e., abhâva. If it be said that though non-existence, i.e., abhâva is knowable, it is distinct from knowledge; then, it comes to this, that absence of knowledge does not follow from absence of all knowables. It may be urged that the knowable is distinct from knowledge, but that knowledge is not distinct from knowable. But this statement is merely one of words. If the identity of the knowable and knowledge is conceded, it is mere word to say that the knowable is distinct from knowledge, and that knowledge is not distinct from knowable, as is the statement that vahni (fire) is distinct from agni (fire), though agni is not distinct from vahni. If knowledge is distinct from the knowable, the statement is inappropriate, that where there is no knowable, there is no knowledge. Nor can it be said that where there is no knowable there is no knowledge, as it is not perceived; for, they concede that in sleep knowledge exists. It is well-known that Vainâsikas admit the existence of knowledge even in sleep. But the existence of a knowable is also admitted. If it be said that in that case, knowledge is knowable by itself, we say ‘no’; for, the distinction between knowledge and knowable exists then. As the knowledge which perceives the non-existence of all things is distinct from the non-existence of the things themselves, the distinction between knowledge and knowable is inevitable even then; and a hundred Vainâsikas cannot get over this objection and make knowledge itself a knowable, as surely as they cannot revive a dead man. It may be objected that, according to our theory, one knowledge has to be known by another and so on without limit. We answer ‘no’:- for, all things can be classified as ‘knowledge’ and ‘knowable,’ and those that are not Vainâsikas concede only a two-fold classification of ‘knowledge’ and ‘knowable,’ and do not admit a third knowledge, which perceives the other knowledge. It may be contended, if knowledge could not know itself, there can be no omniscience. We answer, ‘let that blame attach to the Vainâsikas themselves.’ We gain nothing by refuting that objection. Not only this, their theory is vitiated by the absence of finality; for, according to them knowledge is know-able by another knowledge. If knowledge, therefore, cannot know itself, then the objection of the absence of finality to their theory is irrefutable. If it be urged that this fault is observable alike in our theory also, we say ‘no’; for, according to us knowledge is one. Knowledge which is one in all places, times and men, is reflected and seen diverse, in diverse conditions of name and form, as the sun, etc., is seen when reflected in water, etc. Therefore, the above-named objection has no force; and so, the following is here stated. Nor could it be contended that from the sruti here, that the Purusha is limited within our body, like an apple in a pit; because the Purusha is the cause of Prâna and other kalâs. For, the Purusha limited by the body alone cannot be understood to be the cause of kalâs, such as Prâna, Sraddhâ, etc.; for, the body itself is produced by kalâs. This body produced by kalâs which have their origin in Purusha cannot contain within it, as an apple within the pit, the Purusha who is the cause of its cause. It may be urged that on the analogy of the seed and tree, this is quite possible. As the tree of which the seed is the cause, yields fruits containing within them, the seed, the cause of their cause, (for instance, the mango fruit), it may be urged that similarly the body may contain within it the Purusha which is the cause of its cause. This cannot be for a two-fold reason, i.e., difference and divisibility. In the illustration, the seeds contained in the fruits are different from those which produced the tree. In the case to which the analogy is sought to be applied, the same Purusha who is the cause of the cause of the body is said, by the srutis, to be contained within the body. Again, as the seed and the tree are composed of parts, the relation of the container and the contained may there obtain. But here, the Purusha is one and indivisible; and the kaìâs and the body are both composed of parts. From this, it follows that the body cannot contain even the âkâsa. How can it then contain the Purusha, the cause of the âkâsa? Therefore, the analogy is false. It may be urged:- ‘Let go the analogy, we have the text.’ We answer that texts cannot make and unmake things. The office of the texts is not to metamorphose existing things, but only to make existing things clear. So, the passage, which says that the Purusha i s within the body, must be construed, just in the same way as the passage which says that the âkâsa is within the globe. Besides, the statement that the Purusha is within the body, is intended to serve as a help to his realization; for, in our experience the Purusha is realized as if within the body, by the process of seeing, hearing, thinking, knowing, etc. Therefore, it is said, that Purusha is within the body. Even a fool will not allow himself to say, even in his mind, that the Purusha who is the cause of the âkâsa is really within the body, as the apple is within the pit. Much less would the authoritative sruti say so.

Sloka : 6.3

स ईक्षाञ्चक्रे कस्मिन्नहमुत्क्रान्त उत्क्रान्तो भविष्यामि

कस्मिन्वा प्रतिष्ठिते प्रतिष्ठस्यामीति ॥ ३॥

sa īkśācakre | kasminnahamutkrānta utkrānto bhaviṣyāmi

kasmit vā pratiṣṭite pratiṣṭasyāmīti || 3 ||

He thought, ‘what going out, shall I go out; or, what staying shall I stay?’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The kalâs were stated to have their origin in Purusha in order that the Purusha may be distinctly described. In what order these kalâs come out of their origin was stated for another purpose. That the creation was preceded by intelligence is shown by this statement, i.e., the Purusha of sixteen kalâs, asked for by Bhâradvâja ‘saw,’ i.e., ‘thought.’ The fruit and order of creation are thus explained. On what agent going out of my body I myself will be going out. On what staying in the body, I myself shall stay. Herein, it is objected, that the Âtman is not the creator, and that Pradhâna or Prakriti is the creator. Prakriti, therefore, converts itself into mahat and other forms, for the benefit of the Purusha. It does not stand to reason to say that the Purusha created the universe by his thought of himself; while there is the Prakriti, the state of equilibrium of the three Gunas, satva, etc., competent according to recognised authorities, to create the world; or, while there are the atoms, acting agreeably to the divine will; because, the Âtman being one, has not the necessary materials to create the universe, and further, to attribute creation to the Âtman, is to make the Âtman the author of evils to himself. For, no intelligent being, it is well-known, will do anything to his own trouble. Therefore, the assertion he saw, (thought), etc., is meant to dignify the unintelligent creator Prakriti into an intelligent entity, seeing how the Prakriti in view to bene lit the Purusha acts in an established order, as if possessed of intelligence. The Purusha is said to create, just as a king is said to do things, when the king’s factotum does all. This contention has no force. It is equally appropriate to view the Âtman as the creator of the universe, as to look upon him as the enjoyer. As, according to the Sânkhya, the Âtman which is mere intelligence and not liable to any change can, be the enjoyer, so according to the follower of the Vêdâs, he can be also the author of creation preceded by thought; for, there is the authority of the sruti on the point. It is urged that, if the Âtman is transformed into a diligent entity, it must be subject to the faults of transiency, impurity and diversity; but where there is a mere change in the intelligence of the Âtman, as during enjoyment, without a change of entity, there can be no fault. It is also urged that in the case of the followers of the Vêdâs who attribute to the Âtman the function of the creation of the universe, they make the Âtman transient and subject to such other faults, by attributing to him a change of entities. This objection is not sound; for, it is admitted that the Âtman has two aspects, one unconditioned and the other assuming distinguishing conditions of name and form imposed upon it by ignorance (avidyâ). The aspect of the Âtman well-known to be the result of the conditions of name and form, due to ignorance, is admitted, only because it is talked about in the sâstras which deal with the so-called bondage and the emancipation of the âtman. But the entity, in its real nature, is unconditioned, one without a second, incomprehensible to the intellect of all logicians, fearless and pure. It cannot, therefore, be the creator or enjoyer, nor could there be actions, agent or fruit, with reference to it. For, everything is identical with the Âtman. But the Sânkhyas who found that creation, act, agent and fruits were all super-imposed upon the Purusha, by ignorance (avidyâ) recoiled from their position, because of their non-allegiance to the sâstras, and postulated that the Purusha is really the enjoyer. They postulated also the existence of Prakriti, as an entity really distinct from the Purusha and have been overcome by the reasonings of other logicians; similarly, have other logicians been overcome by the Sânkhyas. Thus engaged in supporting conflicting theories and fighting each other like creatures, striving to get at the same piece of flesh, they have all of them been continually drawn away from the truth finding the authorities against each other. In order that those desirous of emancipation may disregard all their theories and strive with zeal to realize the true drift of the Vêdânta, i.e., universal identity, we point out the flaws in the theory of the logicians but we do not do it in the spirit of a logician. It has been accordingly observed ‘having left the causes of all disputes to other disputants, the knower of the Vêdâs, with his intelligence well protected by them, reposes in happiness.’ Again, there is no difference in the nature of the changes required to make the Purusha the creator and the enjoyer respectively. What is that kind or change which would support the theory that the Purusha could be said to be only the enjoyer but not the creator and the Pradhâna to be only the creator and not the enjoyer. It was said that the intelligent Âtman changes in itself and enjoys but is not converted to anything distinct from itself; whereas Prakriti is converted into different entities and thus acquires the characters of diversity, impurity and dullness, but not so Purusha. To this we answer that this is really no distinction, being purely verbal. If it be urged that the Âtman, which is purely intelligent, undergoes a change when the time of enjoyment comes and that when the enjoyment is over, it gives up the change becoming purely intelligent again, it may be said similarly that Prakriti is changed into forms, like mahat, withdraws itself from them, and becomes Prakriti again, and the distinction in respect of the changes undergone by Purusha, and Pradhâna is, therefore, verbal. If it be urged that even during the time of enjoyment, the Purusha is purely intelligent as before it, then it is plain that the enjoyment attributed to the Purusha is not real. If it be urged that the intelligent Purusha undergoes real change during enjoyment and enjoys by means of that change, this enjoyment may be attributed to Pradhâna as well, seeing that it also undergoes change during enjoyment. If it be urged that the change in the intelligence of Purusha alone is enjoyment, we see no reason why fire, etc., which possess special attributes such as heat, etc., are not said to enjoy. Nor could it be said that Pradhâna and Purusha enjoy simultaneously; for, it would be then inappropriate to hold that Pradhâna is working for another. It is well-known that of two enjoyers, one cannot be dependent upon the other as chief, in the same way that two lights cannot be, in enlightening each other. If it be said that the reflection of the intelligence of the Purusha in the mind, which is essentially sâtvic in its nature and has the attribute of enjoyment, is what is meant by the capacity to enjoy, of the Purusha which is really not subject to any modification, we say ‘no’; for, if such capacity does not affect the Purusha, the making him the enjoyer is meaningless. If the misery of enjoyment does not attach to the Purusha, he being always devoid of changes, to remove what, is the sâstra leading to emancipation made? If it be said that the sâstra is made to remove the evil, merely superposed by ignorance, on the Purusha, then the theory that Purusha is really the enjoyer alone, not creator, that Pradhâna is the creator alone, not enjoyer; that there is a real and distinct entity other than the Purusha should not be respected by those wishing for emancipation, as it is unsupported by âgamas, superfluous and unreasonable. If it be urged that even if there were but one entity, i.e., the Âtman, the compiling of the sâstra is superfluous, we say ‘no.’ There is no such defect. The alternative doubt, whether the compilation of the sâstras is superfluous or otherwise, can arise only if there be those who compose the sâstras and those who seek its fruits. If the Âtman were one, there can be no composer of the sâstras, etc., different from that. In their absence, this alternative question is itself inappropriate. When the oneness of the Âtman is admitted, the use of the sâstras is also admitted by you. When that is admitted, the sruti points out the inappropriateness of the alternative supposition. ‘But, where to him all becomes surely Âtman, there who could see what and by whom, etc.’ The appropriateness of compiling the sâstra is also pointed out, when Sealing from the standpoint of ignorance, without the knowledge of the real existing entity. Thus at length, in the Vâjasanêyaka ‘where he sees as if quality exists, etc.’ In this Atharvamantrôpanishad also, a division of the sâstra is made at the very beginning, as that relating to Parâ (higher) Vidyâ and to Apara (lower) Vidyâ. Therefore, there is no scope for the army of the arguments of logicians entering into this domain of oneness of the Âtman well-guarded by the hand of the royal authority of Vêdânta. By this, it must be understood that the fault of ‘want of materials’ in creating, pointed out in the Brahman by others, has been refuted, as the Brahman appears possessed of a diversity of many powers and means, due to conditions of name and form produced by ignorance; as also the objection that the âtman brings misery on itself, etc. As for the illustration that the king is by courtesy called the doer, when the king’s factotum is the real doer, that is not here in point. For, then, the primary import of the authoritative sruti ‘he saw, etc.,’ will be affected. Where the primary meaning of a word cannot be possibly accepted, there alone is a secondary meaning allowed. But here to say that a non-intelligent thing puts forth well-regulated activity in the cause of Purusha taking note of persons emancipated and bound, of doer, deed, place, time and causes and for the purposes of securing such results as bondage, emancipation, etc., does not stand to reason. But on the view already stated that the omniscient lord is the creator, this stands to reason.

Sloka : 6.4

स प्राणमसृजत प्राणाच्छ्रद्धां खं वायुर्ज्योतिरापः

पृथिवीन्द्रियं मनः । अन्नमन्नाद्वीर्यं तपो मन्त्राः कर्मलोका

लोकेषु च नाम च ॥ ४॥

sa prāṇamasṛjata prāṇācchraddhāṃ khaṃ vāyurjyotirāpaḥ

pṛthivīndriyaṃ manaḥ annamannādvīryaṃ tapo mantrāḥ karmalokā

lokeṣu ca nāma ca || 4 ||

He created Prâna; from Prâna faith, âkâsa, air, fire, water, earth, senses, mind and food; and from food, strength, contemplation, mantrâs, karma and worlds; and in worlds name also.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—By the Purusha, i.e., Isvara alone, is Prâna the chief functionary created. How? He, the Purusha by seeing, i.e., contemplating as explained, created Prâna called Hiranyagarbha, the support of the active instruments of all living beings and the internal Âtman of all. From Prâna, he created faith, which is the stimulus for all living beings, to perform good karma. Then he created the great Bhûtâs which help to the enjoyment of the fruits of karma in here and which are causes in themselves; the âkâsa having the attribute of sound; air having two attributes, its own—touch—and that of its cause; so, fire having three attributes, its own—form—and the two previous—sound and touch; so, water having four attributes, its own peculiar one—taste—and the three previously named; so, earth having five attributes, its own—smell—combined with the previous four; so the senses formed by these, ‘Bhûtâs (rudiments) ten in number, of two classes—intelligent and active; the mind, lord of these, situate within and characterised by doubt and volition. Having thus created for living beings the effects and causes, he created for their support food consisting of grain, corn, etc.; from the food eaten, efficiency—strength—a help towards the performance of all karma; and for the living beings having such strength, and being led astray from virtue, tapas contemplation—a help to the purification of the mind. Mantras, for those whose internal and external senses have been purified by tapas, the Riks, Yajus, Sâma, Atharva and Angirasa mantrâs, helps to karma from them karma consisting in agnihôtra, etc.; from them, worlds, fruits of karma; and of living beings therein created, names, such as Dêvadatta, Yagnadatta, etc.; thus all these kalâs created with the aid of the seed, the faults of ignorance, etc., in living beings, as the vision of the double moon, gnats, fly, etc., created by the pressure of the finger on the eyes, and as the vision of all objects created in dreams, are again absorbed into Him alone, having dropped all distinctions of name and form.

Sloka : 6.5

स यथेमा नध्यः स्यन्दमानाः समुद्रायणाः समुद्रं प्राप्यास्तं

गच्छन्ति भिध्येते तासां नामरुपे समुद्र इत्येवं प्रोच्यते ।

एवमेवास्य परिद्रष्टुरिमाः षोडशकलाः पुरुषायणाः पुरुषं

प्राप्यास्तं गच्छन्ति भिध्येते चासां नामरुपे पुरुष इत्येवं

प्रोच्यते स एषोऽकलोऽमृतो भवति तदेष श्लोकः ॥ ५॥

sa yathemā nadhyaḥ syandamānāḥ samudrāyaṇāḥ samudraṃ prāpyāstaṃ

gacchanti bhidhyete tāsāṃ nāmarupe samudra ityevaṃ procyate |

evamevāsya paridraṣṭurimāḥ ṣoḍaśakalāḥ puruṣāyaṇāḥ puruṣaṃ

prāpyāstaṃ gacchanti bhidhyete cāsāṃ nāmarupe puruṣa ityevaṃ

procyate sa eṣo'kalo'mṛto bhavati tadeṣa ślokaḥ || 5 ||

Just as these rivers flowing towards the sea, their goal, having reached the sea, disappear, their name and form are destroyed and all is called sea; so of him that sees the Purusha around, the sixteen kalâs whose goal is the Purusha, having reached Purusha, disappear; their name and form are destroyed and all is called, Purusha alone. He becomes devoid of parts and immortal. There is this verse.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How is that illustrated? Just as in this world, these rivers flowing, whose goal is the sea, having reached the sea, suffer a disappearance of their name and form, and when they so disappear their name and form as the Ganges, the Jumna, etc., disappear, and in the absence of all distinction is called ‘the sea,’ and expanse of water; as in this illustration, so of the seer who sees around the Purusha already described treated of here and who has become the self (the active agent ‘seer’ is here used, as the sun is said to be the giver of light everywhere, although his form is light itself) the sixteen kalâs, Prâna and the rest already described, whose goal is Purusha, as the sea is of the rivers, having reached Purusha, i.e., being absorbed into Purusha, disappear; accordingly, their name and form, i.e., their name as Prâna, etc., and their distinct nature are destroyed. The entity that survives understroyed when name and form are destroyed is called Purusha by the knowers of Brahman. He who knows thus, being instructed by the preceptor, how the kalâs are absorbed, becomes devoid of kalâs, when the kalâs produced by ignorance, desire, and karma have been absorbed by knowledge, and becomes immortal, the kalâs produced by ignorance, the cause of death, having been destroyed. To convey that drift is the following verse.

Sloka : 6.6

अरा इव रथनाभौ कला यस्मिन्प्रतिष्ठिताः ।

तं वेध्यं पुरुषं वेद यथा मा वो मृत्युः परिव्यथा इति ॥ ६॥

arā iva rathanābhau kalā yasmin pratiṣṭitāḥ |

taṃ vedhyaṃ puruṣaṃ veda yatha mā vo mṛtyuḥ parivyathā iti || 6 ||

Know that knowable Purusha in whom the kalâs are centred like spokes in the nave of a wheel. So, death, may not harm you.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As the spokes of a wheel are centred in the nave of the wheel, and depend on it, so the kalâs, Prâna, etc., are centred in the Purusha during their creation, support and destruction. Know that Purusha the Âtman of all kalâs, worthy to be known (Purusha, because he is all-pervading, or because he stays in the heart); so, O disciples! death may not harm you. If the Purusha be not known, you will certainly become miserable, subject to the grief caused by death. The drift is that it may not so befall them.

Sloka : 6.7

तान्होवाचैतावदेवाहमेतत्परं ब्रह्म वेद नातः परमस्तीति ॥ ७॥

tān hovācaitāvadevāhametatparaṃ brahma veda | nātaḥ paramastīti || 7 ||

He said to them, ‘Thus much alone I know, this supreme Brahman; there is nothing beyond this.’

Sloka : 6.8

ते तमर्चयन्तस्त्वं हि नः पिता योऽस्माकमविद्यायाः परं पारं तारयसीति ।

नमः परमऋषिभ्यो नमः परमऋषिभ्यः ॥ ८॥

इति प्रश्नोपनिषदि षष्ठः प्रश्नः ॥

te tamarcayantastvaṃ hi naḥ pitā yo'smākamavidhyāyāḥ paraṃ paraṃ tārayasīti |

namaḥ paramaṛṣibhyo namaḥ paramaṛṣibhyaḥ || 8 ||

They worshipping him, said:- ‘you are our father who helps us to cross to the other shore of ignorance; adoration to the great sages; adoration to the great sages.’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Having thus instructed them, Pippalâda said to them:- “Thus far, I know the supreme Brahman worthy to be known. There is nothing beyond this, more excellent or worthy to be known. This he said to remove any doubt in the minds of disciples, that there was yet something not known and to produce a belief in their minds that their object had been accomplished. Then, what did the disciples instructed by the preceptor, their purpose accomplished and finding no return for knowledge received, do for their preceptor is explained. They worshipped him by throwing handfuls of flowers at his feet and by prostrating before him. What they said is stated:- ‘You are our father; because, you are the creator, by giving us knowledge of the Brahman—body, eternal, undecaying, deathless and fearless as it were—because you alone have helped us to cross by means of the boat of knowledge to the other shore (supreme emancipation characterised by the absence of return to samsâra) of the ocean of ignorance consisting in perverse knowledge and infested by such evils as birth, old age, death, sickness, misery, etc.; your being our father is more appropriate than others.’ Even that other father who creates the mere physical body is still to be worshipped most of all, in the world. What need be said of him who confers thorough immunity from fear?” This is the drift. Adoration to the great sages who transmitted the knowledge of Brahman. Adoration to the great sages. The repetition indicates regard.

Shanti Mantra (END)

ॐ भद्रं कर्णेभिः शृणुयाम देवाः। भद्रं पश्येमाक्षभिर्यजत्राः।

स्थिरैरङ्गैस्तुष्तुवासस्तनूभिः। व्यशेम देवहितं यदायुः ॥

स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः। स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः ।

स्वस्ति नस्तार्क्ष्यो अरिष्टनेमिः। स्वस्ति नो बृहस्पतिर्दधातु ॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

oṃ bhadraṃ karṇebhiḥ śṛṇuyāma devā । Bhadram paṣyemākśabhiryajatrāḥ ।

oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ॥


The Prashnopanishad (Sanskrit: प्रश्नोपनिषद्, Praśnopaniṣad) is an ancient Sanskrit text, embedded inside Atharva Veda.

The first three questions are profound metaphysical questions but, states Eduard Roer, do not contain any defined, philosophical answers, are mostly embellished mythology and symbolism. The fourth section, in contrast, contains substantial philosophy. The last two sections discuss the symbol Om and Moksha concept.

1. How did life begin?

Prashna Upanishad states that Prajapati did Tapas (heat, meditative penance, austerity) and created two principles: Riya (matter, feminine) and Prana (spirit, masculine), thinking that “these together will couple to produce for me creatures in many ways”. The sun is the spirit, matter is the moon, asserts Prashna Upanishad. Sun ascends the highest, alone in splendor, warms us, is the spirit of all creatures. He is Aditya, illuminates everything, states the first Prashna, and has two paths - the northern and the southern. Those who desire offspring follow the guidance of sun’s southern path, while those who seek the Self (Soul) take the northern path, one of knowledge, brahmacharya, tapas and sraddha.

2. What is a living being?

Sage Pippalada opens the answers to the questions by listing five gross elements, five senses and five organs of action as expression of deities. The Prana (breath, spirit) is the most essential and powerful of all, because without it all other deities cannot survive in a creature, they exist only when Prana is present. The deities manifest their power because of and in honor of Prana. The spirit manifests itself in nature as well as life, as Agni (fire), as sun, as air, as space, as wind, as that which has form and as that which does not have form.

3. What is the nature of man, and how is it so?

Life enters the body by the act of mind. It governs the body by delegating work to other organs, each specialized to do its own work independent of the other powers, just like a king commands his ministers to govern functions in the villages in his kingdom. It asserts, for example, that human body has a heart as the principal organ of soul, from where arise 101 major arteries, each major artery divides into a hundred times, which in turn subdivide into 72,000 smaller arteries, giving a total of 727,210,201 small and large arteries, and that these arteries diffuse air throughout the body. It is this life-breath which interfaces Self to all organs and life in human body.

4. What establishes man?

Like rays of the sun that withdraw into the disc as it sets and that disperse ever more as it rises, all gods (sensory organs) inside man withdraw and become one in the highest Deva named Manas (mind) when he sleeps. There is a deep sleep state, where impressions end and the mind too sleeps without impressions, and this is the complete state of mind relaxation, of body happiness. It is then when everything in a person retires into Atman-Brahman, including the matter and elements of matter, water and elements of water, light and elements of light, eye and what is visible, ear and what is audible, smell and the objects of smell, taste and objects of taste, touch and objects of touch, speech and objects of speech, sexuality and objects of its enjoyment, feet and what is moveable, hands and what is seizable, mind and the objects of mind, thought and objects of thought, reason and objects of reason, self-consciousness and objects of self-consciousness, insight and objects of illumination, life-force and object of life-force.

The Prashna Upanishad answers that happiness and bliss in man is this established calm state of knowing and dwelling in the Atman, the spiritual state of truth, beauty and goodness.

5. What is meditation, and why meditate?

The Upanishad asserts that there are three levels of Soul knowledge, the lowest level being partial from meditating on the first letter of Aum, that is A. This leads to a quick rebirth, but with ethical strengths and consequently greatness. The intermediate level of self-knowledge is akin to meditating on two letters of Aum, that is A and U. The intermediate level of self-knowledge leads the man to gain ethical behavior and the world of Manas (moon, mind), he first enjoys the heavenly life and thereafter is reborn to the world of man. The person who meditates on all aspects of self, that is all three syllables A, U and M, reaches full self-knowledge, is liberated from all suffering, sin and fears, reaches the world of Brahman. Such a man “beholds the soul as universal, pervading in all creatures, and eternal”.

6. What is immortal in man?

The last section states, soul is immortal. Self-knowledge, the knowledge of Brahman, is the highest knowledge, state the closing verses of the Prashna Upanishad.

Introduction by Shankaracharya


ओं भद्रं कर्णेभिः शृणुयाम देवा । भद्रम् पष्येमाक्शभिर्यजत्राः । स्थिरैरङ्गैस्तुष्तुवाँसस्तनूभि । र्व्यशेम देवहितं यदायुः ॥

oṃ bhadraṃ karṇebhiḥ śṛṇuyāma devā . Bhadram paṣyemākśabhiryajatrāḥ . sthirairaṅgaistuṣtuvām̐sastanūbhi . Rvyaśema devahitaṃ yadāyuḥ ॥

Om, Oh Gods, may we, with our ears, hear what is auspicious; Oh ye! fit to be worshipped, may we, with our eyes, see what is auspicious; may we enjoy the life allotted to us by the gods, offering our praise with our bodies strong of limb.

ओं शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ॥ Om peace! peace! peace

ओं नमः परमात्मने । हरिः ओं ॥ oṃ namaḥ paramātmane | hariḥ oṃ || OM ADORATION TO THE PARAMATMAN.

Introduction by Max Müller

The Upanishads, Part 2 [1879]

THIS Upanishad is called the Prasña or Shat-prasña-upanishad, and at the end of a chapter we find occasionally iti prasñaprativakanam, i.e. thus ends the answer to the question. It is ascribed to the Atharva-veda, and occasionally to the Pippalâda-sâkhâ, one of the most important sâkhâs of that Veda. Pippalâda is mentioned in the Upanishad as the name of the principal teacher.

Saṅkara, in the beginning of his commentary, says:

Mantroktasyârthasya vistarânuvâdidam Brâhmanam ârabhyate, which would mean ‘this Brâhmana is commenced as more fully repeating what has been declared in the Mantra.’ This, however, does not, I believe, refer to a Mantra or hymn in the Atharva-veda-samhitâ, but to the Mundaka-upanishad, which, as written in verse, is sometimes spoken of as a Mantra, or Mantropanishad. This is also the opinion of Ânandagiri, who says, I one might think that it was mere repetition (punarukti), if the essence of the Self, which has been explained by the Mantras, were to be taught here again by the Brâhmana.’ For he adds, ‘by the Mantras “Brahma devânâm,” &c.,’ and this is evidently meant for the beginning of the Mundaka-upanishad, ‘Brahmâ devânâm.’ Ânandagiri refers again to the Mundaka in order to show that the Prasña is not a mere repetition, and if Saṅkara calls the beginning of it a Brâhmana, this must be taken in the more general sense of ‘what is not Mantra[1].’ Mantropanishad is a name used of several Upanishads which are written in verse, and some of which, like the Îsâ, have kept their place in the Samhitâs.

Footnotes by Max Müller

  1. xliii:1 Mantravyatiriktabhâge tu brâhmanasabdah, Rig-veda, Sâyana’s Introduction, vol. i, p. 23.

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