The Svetasvatara Upanishad
Translated by Swami Tyagisananda – Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai
Om ! May Brahman protect us both together.
May He nourish us both together.
May we both work together, with great energy.
May our study be vigorous and effective.
May we not hate each other.
Om ! Peace ! Peace ! Peace !
I-1: Students of Brahman (i.e. the Vedas) discuss (among themselves): What is the cause ? (Is it) Brahman ? Whence are we born ? Why do we live ? Where is our final rest ? Under whose orders are we, who know the Brahman, subjected to the law of happiness and misery ?
I-2: Time, nature, law, chance, matter, energy, intelligence – neither these, nor combination of these, can bear examination because of their own birth, identity and the existence of the self. The self also is not a free agent, being under the sway of happiness and misery.
I-3: Practising the method of meditation, they realized that Being who is the God of religion, the Self of philosophy and the Energy of science; who exists as the self-luminous power in everyone; who is the source of the intellect, emotions and will; who is one without a second; who presides over all the causes enumerated above, beginning with time and ending with the individual soul; and who had been incomprehensible because of the limitations of their own intellect.
I-4: We think of Him as the universe resembling a wheel which has one felly with a triple tyre, sixteen extremities, fifty spokes, twenty counter-spokes and six sets of eight; which is driven along three different roads by means of a belt that is single yet manifold; and which each revolution gives rise to two.
I-5: We think of Him (in His manifestation as the universe) who is like a river that contains the waters of five streams; that has five big turnings due to five causes; that has the five Pranas for the waves, the mind – the basis of five-fold perception – for the source, and the five-fold misery for its rapids; and that has five whirlpools, five branches and innumerable aspects.
I-6: In this infinite wheel of Brahman, in which everything lives and rests, the pilgrim soul is whirled about. Knowing the individual soul, hitherto regarded as separate, to be itself the Moving Force, and blessed by Him, it attains immortality.
I-7: This is expressly declared to be the Supreme Brahman. In that is the triad. It is the firm support, and it is the imperishable. Knowing the inner essence of this, the knowers of Veda become devoted to Brahman, merge themselves in It, and are released from birth.
I-8: The Lord supports this universe, which consists of a combination of the perishable and the imperishable, the manifest and the unmanifest. As long as the self does not know the Lord, it gets attached to worldly pleasures, and is bound; but when it knows Him, all fetters fall away from it.
I-9: The conscious subject and the unconscious object, the master and the dependent, are both unborn. She, too, who is engaged in bringing about the relation of the enjoyer and the enjoyed (or between these two), is unborn. When all these three are realized as Brahman, the self becomes infinite, universal and free from the sense of agentship.
I-10: Matter is perishable, but God is imperishable and immortal. He, the only God, rules over the perishable matter and individual souls. By meditating on him, by uniting with Him, and by becoming one with Him, there is cessation of all illusion in the end.
I-11: With the knowledge of God, all fetters fall off. With the waning of ignorance, birth and death cease. Going beyond the consciousness of the body by meditating on Him, one reaches the third state, viz., the universal lordship. All his desires are satisfied, and he becomes one without a second.
I-12: This is to be known as eternally existing in one’s own self. Indeed, there is nothing to be known beyond this. As a result of meditation the enjoyer, the enjoyed and the power which brings about the enjoyment – all are declared to be the three aspects of Brahman.
I-13: Fire is not perceived in its source, the fire-stick, till it is ignited by percussion. The subtle essence of fire, nevertheless, is not absent in the stick; for fire can be obtained from the source, the fire-stick, by striking again. (The state of the Atman before and after realization). By meditating on the Pranava, the Atman is perceived manifestly in the body, (but it was there in a latent state even before realization).
I-14: Making one’s own body the lower piece of wood, and the Pranava the upper piece of wood, and practising churning in the form of meditation, one should realize God as one would find out something hidden.
I-15-16: As oil in sesame seeds, as butter in curds, as water in underground springs, as fire in wood, even so this Self is perceived in the self. He who, by means of truthfulness, self-control and concentration, looks again and again for this Self, which is all-pervading like butter contained in milk, and which is rooted in self-knowledge and meditation – he becomes that Supreme Brahman, the destroyer of ignorance.
II-1: First harnessing the mind and the senses with a view to realizing the Truth, and then having found out the light of the fire, the Evolving Soul brought itself out of the earth.
II-2: With our minds controlled so as to manifest the self-luminous Immanent Soul, we shall vigorously endeavour for the attainment of supreme bliss.
II-3: Controlling the heaven-aspiring senses with the help of the mind and the intellect, the Immanent Soul so regenerates them as to enable them to manifest the self-luminous Infinite Light.
II-4: Great is the glory of the Immanent Soul who is all-pervading, all-knowing, infinite and self-luminous. Only those rare few who know, undergo the necessary discipline and spiritual practices. The wise do, indeed, control the activities of the intellect, and practise meditation and concentration.
II-5: Following only in the footsteps of the wise, I merge you both in the ancient Brahman by continued meditation. May the Glorious One manifest Himself ! May the sons of Immortal Bliss hearken to me – even they who occupy celestial regions !
II-6: Where fire is churned out, where air is controlled, where Soma juice overflows – there the mind attains perfection.
II-7: Attaining whom thou destroyest the source and art no more troubled by the results of past actions – to that ancient Brahman be thou devoted through the Prime Cause, the Immanent Soul.
II-8: Placing the body in a straight posture, holding the chest, throat and head erect, and drawing the senses and the mind into the heart, the knowing one should cross over all the fearful currents by means of the raft of Brahman.
II-9: Controlling the senses with an effort, and regulating the activities in the body, one should breathe out through the nostrils when the vital activities become gentle. Then the knowing one, without being in the least distracted, should keep his hold on the mind as on the reins attached to restive horses.
II-10: One should perform one’s exercises in concentration, resorting to caves and such other pure places helpful to its practice – places where the ground is level without pebbles, and the scenery pleasing to the eyes; where there is no wind, dust, fire, dampness and disturbing noises.
II-11: Forms that appear like snow, smoke, sun, wind, fire, fire-fly, lightning, crystal and moon, precede the manifestation of Brahman in Yoga practice.
II-12: When the fivefold perception of Yoga, arising from (concentrating the mind on) earth, water, light, air and ether, have appeared to the Yogin, then he has become possessed of a body made of the fire of Yoga, and he will not be touched by disease, old age or death.
II-13: It is said that the first signs of entering Yoga are lightness of body, health, thirstlessness of mind, clearness of complexion, a beautiful voice, an agreeable odour and scantiness excretions.
II-14: Just as the same metal disc, which was stained by dust before, shines brilliantly when cleaned, so the embodied being, seeing the truth of Atman, realizes oneness, attains the goal and becomes sorrowless.
II-15: When the Yogin realizes the truth of Brahman, through the perception of the truth of Atman in this body as a self-luminous entity, then, knowing the Divinity as unborn, eternal and free from all the modifications of Prakriti, he is freed from all sins.
II-16: This Divinity pervades all directions in their entirety. He is the first-born (Hiranyagarbha). He has entered into the womb. He alone is born, and is to be born in future. He is inside all persons as the Indwelling Self, facing all directions.
II-17: Salutations to that Divinity who is in the fire, who is in the water, who is in the plants, who is in the trees, who has pervaded the whole universe.
III-1: It is the self-same One who exists alone at the time of creation and dissolution of the universe, that assumes manifold powers and appears as the Divine Lord by virtue of His inscrutable power of Maya. He it is that protects all the worlds and controls all the various forces working therein. Those who realize this Being becomes immortal.
III-2: He who protects and controls the worlds by His own powers, He – Rudra – is indeed one only. There is no one beside Him who can make Him the second. O men, He is present inside the hearts of all beings. After projecting and maintaining all the worlds, He finally withdraws them into Himself.
III-3: Though God, the creator of heaven and earth, is one only, yet Heaven is the real owner of all the eyes, faces, hands and feet in this universe. It is Heaven who inspires them all to do their respective duties in accordance with the knowledge, past actions and tendencies of the various beings (with whom they appear to be associated).
III-4: May Heaven, who created the gods and supports them; who is the origin also of the cosmic soul; who confers bliss and wisdom on the devotes, destroying their sins and sorrows, and punishing all breaches of law – may Heaven, the great seer and the lord of all, endow us with good thoughts.
III-5: O Lord, who blesses all creatures by revealing the Vedas, deign to make us happy by Thy calm and blissful self, which roots out terror as well as sin.
III-6: O revealer of the Vedic truths, deign to make propitious that arrow which Thou holdest in Thy hand for shooting at somebody. O protector of devotees, do not destroy that benign personal form of Thine which has manifested as the universe.
III-7: Higher than this Personal Brahman is the infinite Supreme Brahman, who is concealed in all beings according to their bodies, and who, though remaining single, envelops the whole universe. Knowing him to be the Lord, one becomes immortal.
III-8: I have realized this Great Being who shines effulgent like the sun beyond all darkness. One passes beyond death only on realizing Him. There is no other way of escape from the circle of births and deaths.
III-9: There is naught higher than or different from Him; naught greater or more minute than Him. Rooted in His own glory He stands like a tree, one without a second and immovable. By that Being the whole universe is filled.
III-10: That Being is far beyond this world, is formless and free from misery. They who know this become immortal. But all others have indeed to suffer misery alone.
III-11: Therefore, that Divine Lord, being all-pervading, omnipresent and benevolent, dwells in the hearts of all beings, and makes use of all faces, heads and necks in this world.
III-12: This Self is indeed the mighty Lord. He is the imperishable (internal) light that controls everything. He guides the intellect of all beings so as to enable them to gain that extremely pure state (of Mukti).
III-13: Assuming a form of the size of a thumb, by virtue of intellect, emotion, imagination and will, the Infinite Being dwells in the hearts of creatures as their inner self. Those who realize this become immortal.
III-14: That Infinite Being has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet enveloping the whole universe on all sides. He exists beyond ten fingers.
III-15: That which is, that which was, and that which is yet to be – all this is nothing but this Infinite Being. Though He grows beyond His own nature into the form of the objective universe, He still remains the lord of immortality.
III-16: With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads and mouths everywhere, with ears everywhere, That exists, pervading everything in the universe.
III-17: They realize Him as shining by the functions of all the senses yet without the senses as the lord of all, the ruler of all, the refuge of all and the friend of all.
III-18: It is He who resides in the body, the city of nine gates. He is the soul that sports in the outside world. He is the master of the whole world, animate and inanimate.
III-19: Without hands and feet He goes fast and grasps; without eyes He sees; without ears He hears. He knows whatever is to be known, yet there is none who knows Him. They say He is the foremost, the great Infinite Being.
III-20: Subtler than even the subtlest and greater than the greatest, the Atman is concealed in the heart of the creature. By the grace of the Creator, one becomes free from sorrows and desires, and then realizes Him as the great Lord.
III-21: I know this undecaying primeval Immanent Self of all, who is omnipresent because of His all-pervasiveness, and whom the expounders of Brahman declare to be eternally free from birth.
IV-1: May that Divine Being, who, though Himself colourless, gives rise to various colours in different ways with the help of His own power, for His own inscrutable purpose, and who dissolves the whole world in Himself in the end – may He endow us with good thoughts !
IV-2: That Itself is the fire, That is the sun, That is the air, That is the moon, That is also the starry firmament, That is the Brahman, That is the waters, That is Prajapati.
IV-3: Thou art the woman, Thou art the man, Thou art the youth and the maiden too. Thou art the old man who totters along, leaning on the staff. Thou art born with faces turned in all directions.
IV-4: Thou art the dark blue butterfly, and the green parrot with red eyes. Thou art the thunder-cloud, the seasons and the oceans. Thou art without beginning, and beyond all time and space. Thou art He from whom all the worlds are born.
IV-5: There is a single Female of red, white and black colours, who is unoriginated, and who produces numerous offsprings resembling herself. By her side lies one unborn Male out of attachment for her, while another Male, also unoriginated, forsakes her after having enjoyed her.
IV-6: Two birds of beautiful plumage, who are inseparable friends, reside on the self-same tree. Of these, one eats the fruits of the tree with relish while the other looks on without eating.
IV-7: Sitting on the same tree the individual soul gets entangled and feels miserable, being deluded on account of his forgetting his divine nature. When he sees the other, the Lord of all, whom all devotees worship, and realizes that all greatness is His, then he is relieved of his misery.
IV-8: Of what avail are the Vedas to him who does not know that indestructible, highest Ethereal Being, in whom the gods and the Vedas reside ? Only those who know That are satisfied.
IV-9: The Lord of Maya projects the Vedas, sacrifices, spiritual practices, past and future, religious observances, all that the Vedas declare, and the whole world including ourselves. The other, again, is bound by Maya in this.
IV-10: Know then that Nature is Maya, and that the great God is the Lord of Maya. The whole world is filled with beings who form His parts.
IV-11: One attains infinite peace on realizing that self-effulgent Adorable Lord, the bestower of blessings, who, though one, presides over all the various aspects of Prajapati, and in whom this universe dissolves, and in whom it appears in manifold forms.
IV-12: May He, who created the gods and supports them; who witnessed the birth of the cosmic soul; who confers bliss and wisdom on the devoted, destroying their sins and sorrows, and punishing all breaches of law – may He, the great seer and the lord of all, endow us with good thoughts !
IV-13: Let us offer our worship with oblations to that blissful Divine Being who is the lord of the Devas, who governs the bipeds and the quadrupeds and in whom the worlds rest.
IV-14: One attains infinite peace when one realizes that Blissful One who is subtler than the subtlest, who creates the world in the midst of chaos, who assumes various forms, and who is the only one that encompasses the universe.
IV-15: He alone is the protector of the world at the proper time. He is the lord of the universe hidden in all creatures. In Him the divine sages and the gods merge themselves. Realizing Him thus, one cuts asunder the fetters of death.
IV-16: One is released from all fetters on realizing the Blissful One who encompasses the world, and who hides Himself in all beings in an extremely subtle form as the essence finer than ghee.
IV-17: This Divinity, who created the universe and who pervades everything, always dwells in the hearts of creatures, being finitized by emotions, intellect, will and imagination. Those who realize this become immortal.
IV-18: When ignorance is dispelled, there is neither day nor night, neither being nor non-being. There is only that Auspicious One who is imperishable, and who is worthy of being adored by the creator. From Him has proceeded the ancient wisdom.
IV-19: No one can grasp Him above, or across, or in the middle. There is none equal to Him whose name is great glory.
IV-20: His form does not stand within the range of the senses. No one perceives Him with the eye. Those who know Him through the faculty of intuition as thus seated in their heart, become immortal.
IV-21: Some, being afraid, approach Thee, thinking that Thou art the unborn. O Rudra, deign to protect me with that benevolent face of Thine.
IV-22: Injure us not in respect of children, grand-children and life, nor in respect of cows and horses. Do not destroy our heroes in Thy anger, O Rudra. We invoke Thee always with offerings.
V-1: Ignorance leads to the perishable. Wisdom leads to immortality. Entirely different from these is he, the imperishable, infinite, secret, Supreme Brahman, in whom exists wisdom as well as ignorance, and who governs them both.
V-2: He alone presides over Nature in all aspect, and controls every form and every cause of production. He witnesses the birth of the first born seer of golden colour and nourishes him with wisdom.
V-3: Differentiating each genus into its species, and each species into its members, the Supreme Being withdraws them once more into their own ground. Again, bringing forth the agents of creation, the Great Self holds sway over them all.
V-4: Just as the sun shines lighting up all space above, below and across, even so does that one adorable God, the repository of all goodness and greatness, preside over everything that has the nature of a cause.
V-5: He who is the one source of the world brings out everything out of His own Nature, and leads creatures to perfection according to their deserts, and endows each being with its distinguishing characteristic. Thus he presides over the whole universe.
V-6: He lies hidden in the Upanishads, which form the essence of the Vedas. Him the Hiranyagarbha knows as the source of Himself and the Vedas. Those gods and seers who realized Him in former days became identified with Him, and verily became immortal.
V-7: Only he who gets attached to the pleasurable qualities of things does work for the sake of its fruits, and enjoys the fruits of his own deeds. Though really the master of the senses, he becomes bound by the three Gunas, and assuming various forms, wanders about through the three paths as a result of his own deeds.
V-8: Subtle as the point of a goad, and pure, effulgent and infinite like the sun, He alone is seen assuming as another the size of a thumb on account of the finiteness of the heart (in which He appears), and associating Himself with egoism and Sankalpa on account of the limitations of the intellect.
V-9:That individual soul is as subtle as a hairpoint divided and sub-divided hundreds of times. Yet he is potentially infinite. He has to be known.
V-10: He is neither female, nor male, nor neuter. Whatever body he assumes, he becomes identified with that.
V-11: By desire, contact, sight and delusion, the embodied soul assumes successively various forms in various places according to his deeds, just as the body grows nourished by showers of food and drink.
V-12: The embodied self chooses many forms, gross and subtle, based on the qualities belonging to himself, to the actions, and to the mind. The cause of their combination is found to be still another.
V-13: Realizing Him who is without beginning or end, who creates the cosmos in the midst of chaos, who assumes many forms, and who alone envelops everything, one becomes free from all fetters.
V-14: That Supreme Divinity who created both Life and Matter, who is the source of all arts and sciences, who can be intuited by a pure and devoted mind – realizing Him, the blissful the incorporeal and the nameless, one is freed from further embodiment.
VI-1: Some deluded thinkers speak of Nature, and others of time, as the force that revolves this wheel of Brahman. But really all this is only the glory of God manifested in the world.
VI-2: It should be known that energy assumes various forms such as earth, water, light, air and ether at the command of Him who is the master of Gunas and the maker of time, who is omniscient, who is Pure consciousness itself, and by whom all this is ever enveloped.
VI-3: After setting the creation in motion and withdrawing Himself from it, He unites the principle of Spirit with the principle of Matter – with one, with two, with three and with eight – through the mere instrumentality of time and their own inherent properties.
VI-4: He gives the start to the creation associated with the three Gunas of Nature, and others all things. Again, in the absence of the Gunas, He destroys all created objects, and after destruction, remains aloof in His essence.
VI-5: By previously meditating as seated in one’s own heart, on that Adorable Being who appears as the universe, and who is the true source of all creatures, He can be perceived even though He is the primeval cause of the union (of Spirit with Matter), as well as the partless entity transcending the three divisions of time.
VI-6: Knowing Him who is the origin and dissolution of the universe – the source of all virtue, the destroyer of all sins, the master of all good qualities, the immortal, and the abode of the universe – as seated in one’s own self, He is perceived as different from, and transcending, the tree of Samsara as well as time and form.
VI-7: May we realize Him – the transcendent and adorable master of the universe – who is the supreme lord over all the lords, the supreme God above all the gods, and the supreme ruler over all the rulers.
VI-8: His has nothing to achieve for Himself, nor has He any organ of action. No one is seen equal or superior to Him. His great power alone is described in the Vedas to be of various kinds, and His knowledge, strength and action are described as inherent in Him.
VI-9: No one in the world is His master, nor has anybody any control over Him. There is no sign by which He can be inferred. He is the cause of all, and the ruler of individual souls. He has no parent, nor is there any one who is His lord.
VI-10: May the Supreme Being, who spontaneously covers Himself with the products of Nature, just as a spider does with the threads drawn from its own navel, grant us absorption in Brahman !
VI-11: God, who is one only, is hidden in all beings. He is all-pervading, and is the inner self of all creatures. He presides over all actions, and all beings reside in Him. He is the witness, and He is the Pure Consciousness free from the three Gunas of Nature.
VI-12: Those wise men, who ever feel in their own hearts the presence of Him who is the one ruler of the inactive many, and who makes the one seed manifold – to them belongs eternal happiness, and to none else.
VI-13: He is the eternal among the eternal and the intelligent among all that are intelligent. Though one, He grants the desires of the many. One is released from all fetters on realizing Him, the cause of all, who is comprehensible through philosophy and religious discipline.
VI-14: The sun does not shine there; neither the moon, nor the stars. There these lightnings shine not – how then this fire ? Because He shines, everything shines after Him. By His light all this shines.
VI-15: The one destroyer of ignorance in the midst of this universe, He alone is the fire which is stationed in water. Realizing Him alone one overcomes death. There is no other path for emancipation.
VI-16: He is the creator of everything as well as the knower of everything. He is His own source, He is all-knowing, and He is the destroyer of time. He is the repository of all good qualities, and the master of all sciences. He is the controller of Matter and Spirit, and the lord of the Gunas. He is the cause of liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and of bondage which results in its continuance.
VI-17: He is the soul of the universe, He is immortal, and His is the rulership. He is the all knowing, the all-pervading, the protector of the universe, the eternal ruler. None else is there efficient to govern the world eternally.
VI-18-19: He who at the beginning of creation projected Brahma (Universal Consciousness), who delivered the Vedas unto him, who constitutes the supreme bridge of immortality, who is the partless, free from actions, tranquil, faultless, taintless and resembles the fire that has consumed its fuel – seeking liberation I go for refuge to that Effulgent One, whose light turns the understanding towards the Atman.
VI-20: Only when men shall roll up the sky like a skin, will there be an end of misery for them without realizing God.
VI-21: Himself realizing Brahman by the power of self-control and concentration of mind, as well as by the grace of God, the sage Svetasvatara expounded well to the highest order of Sannyasins, the truth of that supremely holy Brahman resorted to by all the seers.
VI-22: This highest mysticism, expounded in the Vedanta in a former age, should not be taught to one whose passions have not been subdued, nor to one who is not a worthy son, nor to an unworthy disciple.
VI-23: These truths, when taught, shine forth only in that high-souled one who has supreme devotion to God, and an equal degree of devotion to the spiritual teacher. They shine forth in that high-souled one only.
Om ! May Brahman protect us both together.
May He nourish us both together.
May we both work together, with great energy.
May our study be vigorous and effective.
May we not hate each other.
Om ! Peace ! Peace ! Peace !