First Mundaka - Chapter 1
Om. Brahma, the Maker of the universe and
the Preserver of the world, was the first among the devas. He told His
eldest son Atharva about the Knowledge of Brahman, the foundation of all
The Knowledge of Brahman about which
Brahma told Atharva, Atharva, in olden times, told Angir. Angir taught it to
Satyavaha, belonging to the clan of Bharadvaja, and the latter taught it, in
succession, to Angiras
Saunaka, the great householder, approached
Angiras in the proper manner and said: Revered sir, what is that by the
knowing of which all this becomes known?
To him he said: Two kinds of knowledge
must be known-that is what the knowers of Brahman tell us. They are the
Higher Knowledge and the lower knowledge.
Of these two, the lower knowledge is the
Rig-Veda, the Yagur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Atharva-Veda, siksha
(phonetics), kalpa (rituals), vyakaranam (grammar), nirukta (etymology),
chhandas (metre), and jyotis (astronomy); and the Higher Knowledge is that
by which the Imperishable Brahman is attained.
By means of the Higher Knowledge the wise
behold everywhere Brahman, which otherwise cannot be seen or seized, which
has no root or attributes, no eyes or ears, no hands or feet; which is
eternal and omnipresent, all-pervading and extremely subtle; which is
imperishable and the source of all beings.
As the spider sends forth and draws in its
thread, as plants grow on the earth, as hair grows on the head and the body
of a living man-so does everything in the universe arise from the
Brahman expands by means of austerity, and
from It primal matter is produced; from matter, Prana; from Prana, mind;
from mind, the elements; from the elements, the worlds; thence works, and
from the works, their immortal fruits.
For him who knows all and understands
everything, whose austerity consists of knowledge-from Him, the Imperishable
Brahman, are born Brahma, name, form, and food.
This is the Truth: The sacrificial works
which were revealed to the rishis in the hymns have been described in many
ways in the three Vedas. Practise them, being desirous to attain their true
results. This is your path leading to the fruits of your works.
When the fire is well lighted and the
flames flicker, let a man offer his oblations in the space between the two
portions of melted butter.
If a manís Agnihotra sacrifice is not
accompanied by the Darsa and the Paurnamasa sacrifice, by the Four Monthsí
sacrifice and the Autumnal sacrifice; if it is unattended by hospitality to
guests or if the oblations are not offered at the right time; or if the
sacrifice is unaccompanied by the Vaisvadeva ceremony or is improperly
performed-then it destroys his seven worlds.
Kali (the Black), Karali (the Terrific),
Manojava (the Swift as thought), Sulohita (the Very red), Sudhumravarna (of
the colour of bright smoke; purple), Splulingini (the Scintillating), and
the luminous Visvaruchi (the All-gleaming, all-formed)-these seven,
flickering about, form the seven tongues of the fire.
A man who performs the sacrifices when
these flames are shining, and offers oblations at the right time, is carried
by these oblations on the rays of the sun to where dwells the sole sovereign
of the gods.
The luminous oblations say to the
sacrificers: Come hither! Come hither! And lead him on the rays of the sun,
worshipping him all the while and greeting him with the pleasant words: This
is the holy heaven of Brahma, earned by your good deeds.
But frail indeed are those rafts of
sacrifices, conducted by eighteen persons, upon whom rests the inferior
work; therefore they are destructible. Fools who rejoice in them as the
Highest Good fall victims again and again to old age and death.
Fools, dwelling in darkness, but wise in
their own conceit and puffed up with vain scholarship, wander about, being
afflicted by many ills, like blind men led by the blind.
Children, immersed in ignorance in various
ways, flatter themselves, saying: We have accomplished life's purpose.
Because these performers of karma do not know the Truth owing to their
attachment, they fall from heaven, misery-stricken, when the fruit of their
work is exhausted.
Ignorant fools, regarding sacrifices and
humanitarian works as the highest, do not know any higher good. Having
enjoyed their reward on the heights of heaven, gained by good works, they
enter again this world or a lower one.
But those wise men of tranquil minds who
lives in the forest on alms, practising penances appropriate to their
stations of life and contemplating such deities as Hiranyagarbha, depart,
freed from impurities, by the Path of the Sun, to the place where that
immortal Person dwells whose nature is imperishable.
Let a brahmin, after having examined all
these worlds that are gained by works, acquire freedom from desires: nothing
that is eternal can be produced by what is not eternal. In order that he may
understand that Eternal, let him, fuel in hand, approach a guru who is well
versed in the Vedas and always devoted to Brahman.
Second Mundaka - Chapter 1
To that pupil who has duly approached him,
whose mind is completely serene, and whose senses are controlled, the wise
teacher should indeed rightly impart the Knowledge of Brahman, through which
one knows the immutable and the true Purusha.
This is the Truth: As from a blazing fire,
sparks essentially akin to it fly forth by the thousand, so also, my good
friend, do various beings come forth from the imperishable Brahman and unto
Him again return.
He is the self-luminous and formless
Purusha, uncreated and existing both within and without. He is devoid of
prana, devoid of mind, pure, and higher than the supreme
From Him are born prana, mind, all the
sense-organs, Akasa, air, fire, water, and earth, which supports
The heavens are His head; the sun and
moon, His eyes; the quarters, His ears; the revealed Vedas, His speech; the
wind is His breath; the universe, His heart. From his feet is produced the
earth. He is, indeed, the inner Self of all beings
From Him comes the Fire whose fuel is the
sun; from the moon comes rain; from rain, the herbs that grow on the earth;
from the herbs, the seminal fluid which a man pours into a woman. Thus many
living beings are born of the Purusha.
From Him have come the Rik, the Saman, the
Yajus, the Diksha, all sacrifices, the Kratus, gifts, the year, the
sacrificer, and the worlds which the moon sanctifies and the sun
By Him are begotten the various devas, the
sadhyas, men, cattle, birds, and also prana and apana, rice and corn,
penance, faith, truth, continence, and law.
From Him have sprung the seven pranas, the
seven flames, the seven kinds of fuel, the seven oblations, and also the
seven planes where move the pranas, lying in the cave, which are seven in
each living being.
From Him come all the oceans and the
mountains; from Him flow rivers of every kind; from Him have come, as well,
all plants and flavours, by which the inner self subsists surrounded by the
The Purusha alone is verily the universe,
which consists of work and austerity. O my good friend, he who knows this
Brahman-the Supreme and the Immortal, hidden in the cave of the heart-cuts
asunder even here the knot of ignorance.
The Luminous Brahman dwells in the cave of
the heart and is known to move there. It is the great support of all; for in
It is centred everything that moves, breathes, and blinks. O disciples, know
that to be your Self-that which is both gross and subtle, which is adorable,
supreme, and beyond the understanding of creatures.
That which is radiant, subtler than the
subtle, That by which all the worlds and their inhabitants are
supported-That, verily, is the indestructible Brahman; That is the prana,
speech, and the mind; That is the True and That is the Immortal. That alone
is to be struck. Strike It, my good friend.
Take the Upanishad as the bow, the great
weapon, and place upon it the arrow sharpened by meditation. Then, having
drawn it back with a mind directed to the thought of Brahman, strike that
mark, O my good friend-that which is the Imperishable
Om is the bow; the atman is the arrow;
Brahman is said to be the mark. It is to be struck by an undistracted mind.
Then the atman becomes one with Brahman, as the arrow with the
In Him are woven heaven, earth, and the
space between, and the mind with all the sense-organs. Know that non-dual
Atman alone and give up all other talk. He is the bridge to
He moves about, becoming manifold, within
the heart, where the arteries meet, like the spokes fastened in the nave of
a chariot wheel. Meditate on Atman as Om. Hail to you! May you cross beyond
the sea of darkness!
He who knows all and understands all, and
to whom belongs all the glory in the world-He, Atman, is placed in the space
in the effulgent abode of Brahman. He assumes the forms of the mind and
leads the body and the senses. He dwells in the body, inside the heart. By
the knowledge of That which shines as the blissful and immortal Atman, the
wise behold Him fully in all things.
The fetters of the heart are broken, all
doubts are resolved, and all works cease to bear fruit, when He is beheld
who is both high and low.
There the stainless and indivisible
Brahman shines in the highest, golden sheath. It is pure; It is the Light of
lights; It is That which they know who know the Self.
The sun does not shine there, nor the moon
and the stars, nor these lightnings, not to speak of this fire. When He
shines, everything shines after Him; by His light everything is
Third Mundaka - Chapter 1
That immortal Brahman alone is before,
that Brahman is behind, that Brahman is to the right and left. Brahman alone
pervades everything above and below; this universe is that Supreme Brahman
Two birds, united always and known by the
same name, closely cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit;
the other looks on without eating.
Seated on the same tree, the jiva moans,
bewildered by his impotence. But when he beholds the other, the Lord
worshipped by all, and His glory, he then becomes free from
When the seer beholds the self-luminous
Creator, the Lord, the Purusha, the progenitor of Brahma, then he, the wise
seer, shakes off good and evil, becomes stainless, and reaches the supreme
He indeed is Prana; He shines forth
variously in all beings. The wise man who knows Him does not babble.
Revelling in the Self, delighting in the Self, performing actions, he is the
foremost among the knowers of Brahman.
This Atman, resplendent and pure, whom the
sinless sannyasins behold residing within the body, is attained by unceasing
practice of truthfulness, austerity, right knowledge, and
Truth alone prevails, not falsehood. By
truth the path is laid out, the Way of the Gods, on which the seers, whose
every desire is satisfied, proceed to the Highest Abode of the
That Brahman shines forth, vast,
self-luminous, inconceivable, subtler than the subtle. He is far beyond what
is far, and yet here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in
the cave of the heart of conscious beings.
Brahman is not grasped by the eye, nor by
speech, nor by the other senses, nor by penance or good works. A man becomes
pure through serenity of intellect; thereupon, in meditation, he beholds Him
who is without parts.
That subtle Atman is to be known by the
intellect here in the body where the prana has entered fivefold. By Atman
the intellects of men are pervaded, together with the senses. When the
intellect is purified, Atman shines forth.
Whatever world a man of pure understanding
envisages in his mind and whatever desires he cherishes, that world he
conquers and those desires he obtains, Therefore let everyone who wants
prosperity worship the man who knows the Self.
He, the Knower of the Self, knows that
Supreme Abode of Brahman, which shines brightly and in which the universe
rests. Those wise men who, free from desires, worship such a person
transcend the seed of birth.
He who, cherishing objects, desires them,
is born again here or there through his desires, But for him whose desires
are satisfied and who is established in the Self, all desires vanish even
here on earth.
This Atman cannot be attained through
study of the Vedas, nor through intelligence, nor through much learning. He
who chooses Atman-by him alone is Atman attained. It is Atman that reveals
to the seeker Its true nature.
This Atman cannot be attained by one who
is without strength or earnestness or who is without knowledge accompanied
by renunciation. But if a wise man strives by means of these aids, his soul
enters the Abode of Brahman.
Having realized Atman, the seers become
satisfied with that Knowledge. Their souls are established in the Supreme
Self, they are free from passions, and they are tranquil in mind. Such calm
souls ever devoted to the Self, behold everywhere the omnipresent Brahman
and in the end enter into It, which is all this.
Having well ascertained the Self, the goal
of the Vedantic knowledge, and having purified their minds through the
practice of sannyasa, the seers, never relaxing their efforts, enjoy here
supreme Immortality and at the time of the great end attain complete freedom
The fifteen parts go back to their causes,
and all the senses to their deities; the actions, and the Atman reflected in
the buddhi, become one with the highest imperishable Brahman, which is the
Self of all.
As flowing rivers disappear in the sea,
losing their names and forms, so a wise man, freed from name and form,
attains the Purusha, who is greater than the Great.
He who knows the Supreme Brahman verily
becomes Brahman. In his family no one is born ignorant of Brahman. He
overcomes grief; he overcomes evil; free from the fetters of the heart, he
A Rik-verse declares: This Knowledge of
Brahman should he told to those only who have performed the necessary
duties, who are versed in the Vedas and devoted to Brahman, and who, full of
faith, have offered oblations in the Ekarshi Fire and performed, according
to rule, the rite of carrying fire on the head.
Thus the seer Angiras declared this truth
in olden times. A man who has not performed the vow should not read it.
Salutation to the great seers! Salutation to the great seers!
Back to Top