Mundaka Upanishad: Book I


1. OM. First of the gods, Brahma came into being,
Maker of all, protector of the earth.
He taught the knowledge of brahman, basis of all knowledge,
To Atharva, his eldest son.

2. The knowledge of brahman, such as Brahma taught to Atharvan,
Atharvan of old taught to Ahgir.
He taught it to Bharadvaja Satyavaha:
Bharadvaja to Angiras, the higher and lower knowli

3. 6aunaka, a great householder, approached Angiras in
the proper way and asked him, 'Blessed one, what must
one know for all this to become known?'

4. He said to him, 'Two knowledges must be known— so
say the knowers of brahman—the higher and the lower.

5. In it, the lower is the Rgveda, the Yajurveda, the
Samaveda, the Atharvaveda,
'Phonetics, ritual, grammar,
Etymology, metre, and astronomy;

but the higher is that by which the imperishable (aksara) is understood.

6. That which is invisible, unseizable, without lineage,
Without colour, without eye or ear, without hands or feet,
Eternal, pervading, omnipresent, very subtle—
That is the unfailing, that the wise see as the source
(yoni) of beings.

7. 'As a spider emits its thread and seizes on to it,
As plants grow on the earth,
As head- and body-hair from a living person,
All here arises from the imperishable.

8. 'Brahman increases by heat (tapas);
From it, food is produced:
From food come breath, mind, truth,
The worlds: in works grows immortality.

9. 'From the one who is all-knowing, all-wise,
Whose asceticism (tapas) is formed of knowledge,
Are born brahman,
Name and form, and food.


1. 'This is truth:

'The works which the poets have seen in the mantras
Are laid out in the triple knowledge in many forms.
Practise them constantly, lovers of truth.
This is your path to the world of the good deed.

2. ‘As'the flame flickers
When the oblation-fire is kindled,
Then one should cast the offerings
Between the two portions of melted butter—
An offering made with faith.

3. 'The one whose Agnihotra is followed by no new moon sacrifice or full moon sacrifice, no four-month sacrifice or harvest sacrifice; is barred to guests, not offered, offered without the Visvedevas' rite, or improperly offered, destroys his worlds even to the seventh.

4. Kali, Karali, Manojava,
Sulohita, Sudhumravama,
Sphulirigim and divine Visvarupi
Are the seven flickering tongues, as they are called.

5. 'Whoever acts while they are blazing
And at the right time,
The offerings, as rays of the sun, take and lead him
To the lord of the gods, the one dweller above.

6. 'Saying, "Come! Come!", the radiant offerings
Carry the patron of the sacrifice by the rays of the sun,
Greeting and praising him with kind words:
"This is your pure world of brahman, well-won'

7. 'But the eighteen forms of sacrifice are unsteady boats,
In which is what is called "lower action".
The foolish who delight in that as best
Go on to old age and death again.

8. 'Living in the midst of ignorance,
Wise in their own view, thinking themselves learned,
The foolish roam about,
Like blind men led by one who is blind.

9. 'Living in many kinds of ignorance,
Childish, they think they have achieved their end,
Since, through passion, the doers of works do not know,
In distress they fall down when their worlds are exhausted.

10. 'The foolish, believing stored-up merit the highest thing,
Proclaim there is nothing better.
After winning to heaven's back, well-won,
They enter this world or a lower one again.

11. 'But those who in the forest practise asceticism and faith,
At peace, ones who know, following the way of alms,
Free of passion, go through the door of the sun
To where is the person of unfailing self.

12. "Seeing the worlds built up through action, the Brahmana
Has achieved detachment. (Not through the made is the unmade.
To know it he should with fuel in hand
Approach a guru, learned and established in brahman.

13. 'He, knowing it, teaches to the one who has approached him rightly,
Whose mind is peaceful, who has attained peace,
The truth by which one knows the imperishable person,
The knowledge of brahman in its reality.

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