Svetasvatara Upanishad: Book I


1. OM. Scholars of brahman say:
What is the cause—brahman? From what were we born?
By what do we live? And on what are we based?
Ruled by what do we follow our course
In joys and their opposite, you knowers of brahman?

2. Should we conceive of it as time, own nature, fate, or chance,
Elements, a womb, a person?
A conjunction of these? No, because of the existence of the self:
And the self is powerless over the cause of joy and sorrow.

3. Those who have followed the method of meditation
Have seen the god's own power/ hidden by his own strands—
Who, one, rules over all those causes
From 'time’ to 'self.

4. As a wheel with one rim/ three tyres, and sixteen ends,
Half a hundred spokes, twenty counter-spokes,
Six eights, one rope that takes every shape,
Three different roads, and one illusion with two causes:

5. As a river with five streams we know it, wild and winding, with five sources,
Five breaths (prana) as waves, five perceptions as its wellspring,
Five whirlpools whirling with the power of the five sufferings,
Fifty divisions, with five sections each.

6. In this mighty wheel of brahman, life-giver to all, rest to all
Roves a goose.
Once it knows itself (atman) and the impeller to be different,
Then, finding favour with him, it attains immortality.

7. In song it has been called the supreme brahman.
In it are the triad, the good support and the imperishable.
Knowing it and merging into brahman,
Knowers of brahman, intent upon it, are freed from the womb.

8. The powerful one bears the whole, united,
Perishable and imperishable, manifest and unmanifest.
The self, powerless/ is bound through its being an enjoyer.
Once it knows the god, it is freed from all bonds.

9. There are two billy goats, knower and unknowing, powerful and powerless;
One nanny goat, yoked to the enjoyer and the objects of enjoyment;
And the infinite self, possessing all forms, not an actor.
When one finds the triad, this is brahman.

10. Primal matter is perishable; the taker is the immortal imperishable:
One god has power over both perishable and self.
Through meditation on him, through practice,
Through his being entity (tattva) and more, in the end the whole artifice (maya) ceases.

11. When one knows the god, all bonds are cast off;
When the afflictions have faded away, birth and death are ended;
Through meditation on him, there arises a third state;
On the break-up of the body, lordship over all; absolute, one attains one's desires.

12. One must know the eternal which rests in the self:
There is nothing beyond this to be known.
When the enjoyer knows the object of enjoyment and the impeller,
Everything has been said. This is the threefold brahman.

13. As when fire is in its source, its form is not seen,
Nor yet is the mark of it destroyed,
And it may be got again from its source, the kindling stick,
So both can be got in the body by the OM (pranava).

14. Making one's own body the lower fire-stick
And the OM the upper fire-stick,
By practising the friction of meditation
One may see the god in hiding.

15. Like oil in sesame seeds, butter in curds,
Water in river beds, and fire in fire-sticks,
Self is found in self
For the one who seeks it by truth and asceticism.

16. The self that pervades everything,
As butter is contained in milk—
The root of self-knowledge and asceticism—
Is the supreme inner teaching of brahman:
Is the supreme inner teaching of brahman.




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