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 knowledge.
2. 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
3. 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?
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 Imperishable.
8. 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.
First Mundaka –
1. 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
2. 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.
3. If a man’s Agnihotra
sacrifice is not accompanied by the Darsa and the Paurnamasa sacrifice, by
the Four Months’ 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.
4. 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
5. 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.
6. The luminous oblations
say to the sacrifiers: 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
7. 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
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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
13. 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.
Second Mundaka –
1. 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.
2. 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
3. From Him are born
prana, mind, all the sense-organs, Akasa, air, fire, water, and earth,
which supports all.
4. 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
5. 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.
6. 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
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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 elements.
10. 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.
Second Mundaka –
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. 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 target.
5. 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 Immortality.
6. 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!
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 lighted.
11. 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 alone.
Third Mundaka –
1. 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.
2. 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
3. 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 unity.
4. 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.
5. 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 continence
6. 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 True.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Third Mundaka –
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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
6. 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 in Brahman.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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 becomes immortal.
10. 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.
11. 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