Om. Once upon a time the Devas resorted to the world of Bliss (Kailasa); and the Devas addressed Rudra thus, “who are you?”
2. He replied: “I alone was in the beginning; I am now; and will be in the future. There is none but me.”
3. He spread out himself and pervaded all the quarters.
4. (He said): “I am eternal and non-eternal, I am Brahma, I am eastern and western quarters, south and north, up and down, the quarters and cross quarters, I am man and otherwise, woman, I am Gayatri, Savitri, Sarasvati, Trishtup, Jagati, and Anushtup, I am the metre, I am Garhapatya, Dakshina and Ahavaniya fires, I am truth, I am the Cow (the Cow of plenty) Gauri, the first born, superior and best, I am Water and Light, I am the Rik, Yajus, Saman, and Atharvangirasa, I am perishable and imperishable, I am to be protected and kept in secrecy, I am the forest, I am the lotus (universe), I am pure, top, center, out-side and front, and I am the light which is in ten quarters and otherwise.” I alone exist. All are equal to me.
5. He who knows me knows all the Devas.
6. I nourish the earth through the light of the Sun, (according to a commentator, I perpetuate creation through man and woman), preserve the Brahmins by Brahmanic glory, the oblations by ghee &c, the life by life-giving energy, the truth by truth, and Dharma by Dharma.
7. Next, the Devas did not see Rudra in his own glory. They thought to meditate upon Rudra, and began to praise Him with uplifted hands.
8. Om. ‡ ‡ Each hymn is called a mantra. There are 34 hymns here given, representing, according to a commentator the Trayambaka mantra. He who is Rudra is verily the Lord; He who is Brahma, Bhuh, Bhuvah, and Suvah. Salutation to Him over and over, who is the head (Svhaa or the fourth)! Om, O goal of humanity, Thou art mukti formed.
9. He who is Rudra is verily the Lord; He who is Vishnu is verily the Lord.
10. He who is Mahesvara is verily the Lord.
11. He who is Uma is verily the Lord.
12. He who is Vinayaka is verily the Lord.
13. He who is Skanda is verily the Lord.
14. He who is Indra is verily the Lord.
15. He who is Agni is verily the Lord.
16. He who is Bhuh is verily the Lord.
17. He who is Bhuvah is verily the Lord.
18. He who is Suvah, is verily the Lord.
19. He who is Mahah, is verily the Lord.
20. He who is Jana is verily the Lord.
21. He who is Tapah is verily the Lord.
22. He who is Satyam is verily the Lord.
23. He who is Earth is verily the Lord.
24. He who is Water is verily the Lord.
25. He who is Light is verily the Lord.
26. He who is Air is verily the Lord.
27. He who is Ether is verily the Lord.
28. He who is the Sun is verily the Lord.
29. He who is Moon is verily the Lord.
30. He who is Stars is verily the Lord.
31. He who is Eight Grahas is verily the Lord.
32. He who is Prana is verily the Lord.
33. He who is Kala is verily the Lord.
34. He who is Yama is verily the Lord.
35. He who is Mritya is verily the Lord.
36. He who is Immortality is verily the Lord.
37. He who is that which is past, present and future is verily the Lord.
38. He who is Visvam is verily the Lord.
39. He who is the Whole is verily the Lord.
40. He who is All is verily the Lord.
41. He who is Truth is verily the Lord.
42. Om. Thou art the first Bhuh, the second Bhuvah, third Suvah, and the last head (Svaha or Turiya). O goal of humanity, O, Om, Thou art many-formed.
43. Thou Brahman art one, two (manifested and unmanifested), and three (the three gunas). Thou art the zenith and nadir. Thou art tranquility, nourishment, and contentment. Thou art that which is given in the form of oblations, and otherwise, yes and no; gift and deed, and superiority and their respective negatives. Thou art the resting place.”‡ ‡ According to the commentator Narayana, the hymns are 32. Sankarananda counts 34. The old Telugu edition, which I follow for translation, has 36 hymns.
44. We drank the Soma Juice (we realized Soma as being Siva with Uma) and became immortal. We reached the Light and knew the Devas. What injury, indeed the enemies (evil passions, etc.), will do us, or what pain will they give to us, who have neither to receive nor reject anything?
45. Adoration over and over, to that great consumer devourer and involver, who with his own light makes the subtle syllable (om) which is the friend of all the worlds, and which has Prajapati as its presiding deity, who (receives) the unthinkable person (Jiva), who is the part of Isa, by the difficult path (Jnana-marga) the Vayu (Linga Sarira) by Vayu (Bhakti, path, and the Soma (actions) by Soma (by the path of action).
46. All the Devas are in the heart. The Pranas (Senses) are established in the heart. Thou art even dwelling in the heart. Thou art transcending the three states of consciousness.
47. In its (heart) left is the head (northern path), in its right is the leg (Southern path).
48. That which is in the left is Om. The Om is Pranava. This is All-Pervading; it is Infinite; it is called Tara; this is Sukshama (subtle); the same is Sukla (white). This is Vaidyuta (brilliant); that which is brilliant is the Supreme Brahman.
49. He is one. He is only one Rudra. He is Isana. He is Lord (Bhagavan). Maheswara and Mahadeva.
50. Next, why is it called Om? As by mere recitation, it leads to the higher regions the whole body, it is called Om.
51. Next, why is it named Pranava? As by mere recitation, it bestows on the Brahmins (the fruit of the study) of Rik, Yajus, Saman, and Atharvangirasa mantras, and the Brahminic lustre in sacrifices, it is named Pranava.
52. Next, why is it called All Pervading (Sarvavyapi)? Because by mere recitation, it makes the aspirant Omnipresent. Like the oil in the oil-seed, pervading through all this, it, the peaceful Om, remains mingled and inter-mingled together.
53. Next, why is it infinite? Because the mere recitation of it, makes the reciter feel neither beginning, nor end, or up and down, nor across.
54. Next, why is it named Tara? The mere recitation of it enables one to transcend the great four of the trans migratory life consisting of conception, birth, old age and death.
55. Next, why is it called Sukushma? Because, be mere recitation, the aspirant becomes very minute, dwelling in all the bodies.
56. Next, why is it named Sukla? Because, by its recitation, one depresses and exhausts (his passions).
57. Next, why is it Vaidyuta? Because a mere recitation of it, illuminates his whole body which is in great darkness.
58. Next, why is it called the Supreme Brahman? The mere recitation of it makes him great.
59. Next, why is He one? Because He alone uplifts all the worlds, always creates, preserves and destroys them.
60. Next, why is He called one Rudra? (In reply to this a mantra is quoted). “Rudra alone exists and there is no second. He rules over all these worlds, possessed of creative and preservative powers. Having created the whole universe, He protects it. At the end, He destroys the same. O men, He remains inwards.” Therefore He is called only one Rudra.
61. Next, why is He called Isana? Because He rules over all the worlds, possessed of all supreme energies of power and rulership. (To support this a hymn is quoted here). “We approach thee, O Mighty One, with salutations, like the calves before mulching. O Light, Thou art the ruler of the movable as well as of immovable ones, Thou art the light of the heaven.” Hence Isana.
62. Next, why is He called Bhagavan (Lord)? Because He sees all things (directly) and also causes one to see the knowledge of Atman and leads one to Yoga.
63. Next, why is He called Mahesvara? Because he devours all the worlds. He always creates, preserves and destroys them.
64. Next, why is He called Mahadeva? Having given up all activities, He shines in His great glory of Atma-jnana-yoga. Hence Mahadeva. Thus is the mystery of Rudra.
65. (There are two more hymns). “This Deity is verily in all sides. He was born at first. He is in the womb of all. He is the born. He is going to be in everthing that will appear. The All-Formed One, O men, remains inward.”
66. “He has eyes on all sides, faces, hands and feet everywhere. The one Deity, having created the earth and heaven, keeps them in balance by two hands (virtue and vice) and by wings (five elements)”
67. This (Om) is to be worshipped. It has the spoken states (Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari). One should grasp the spirit of them.
68. This path is wide-open. By this northern path, Devas, Rishis and the Pitris reach the supreme seat, the goal.
69. To the wise men, who realize the Deity in Atman, who are as minute as the end of the hair, in the center of the heart, who are omniscient the best and all, is the eternal tranquility, and not to others.
70. One should meditate upon Him, who alone presides over each and every womb and by whom all the fivefold world is pervaded through, who is the Lord, the Divine Person, and who is the revered Om; and he attains perfect peace.
71. The characteristics of the mind is to be found inside of the senses. In the mind are anger, desire, and forbearance. By rooting out the desire, which is the cause of all diversities, one should stop the Buddhi in Rudra diligently.
72. All declare, everyone should become one with Rudra.
73. One should reach Rudra, by Tapas (meditation), who is Eternal, Ancient, and the Giver of foods and strength.
74. The following is called Pasupataa vow. “Agni is Bhasma (fire is the holy ashes). Vayu is Bhasma. The water is Bhasma. The Earth is Bhasma. The Ether is Bhasma. All this is Bhasma. And mind and all the senses are Bhasma.” By this hymn taking the holy ashes, mixing them with water, one should besmear himself all over. One should observe this vow called Pasupata for the sake of getting rid of the noose (Pasa) of the Pasus (ignorant souls).
75. The Brahmin who studies this Atharvasiras daily is purified from (the sin of not observing the worship of the ) Fire, from Vayu, from the Sun and the Moon, from Truth, and he is purified from all (the sins). He gets the virtue of having bathed in all the holy waters. He attains the fruit of studying all the Vedas. He gets the effect of observing all the Vedic vows. He becomes known to all the Devas. He gets the result of performing all Yajnas and Kratus; and of repeating Itihasa, Purana and Rudras (Rudradhyaya, five Indra and five jabala upanishats) one hundred thousand times; of repeating Gayatri one hundred thousand times; and of repeating Pranava ten thousand times. He purifies his ten past and ten future generations. He purifies all whom he sees. Thus says the Lord Atharvasiras, Atharvasiras.
76. Once recited, one becomes pure holy and skillful. Twice repeated, he gets the seat of Ganapati, Thrice repeated, he enters the Deity himself. Om! Truth.
77. “Let the adoration be to that Rudra who is in the fire, water, who has entered into herbs and creepers and who has created all this universe.” (It is a mantra).
78. (The definition of the Atharvasiras is given here). Atharva, leaving out his heart and head and going beyond the top of the head, proclaimed this (indicating he found out this while he is at the end of Nada). “The breath of Atharvasiras which is the sheath of the Deity is the protector (of the Devotees). Let the breath of him protect (our) wealth, food and mind, wealth, food and mind, (repetition indicates the end of the book); knowledge, food and mind, knowledge, food and mind; Salvation, food and mind, Salvation, food and mind.”
79. Om! Truth. Thus ends the Upanishat.