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Indira Peterson

Mount Holyoke College 2015


SELECTIONS FROM THE UPANISHADS

Invocation for harmonious understanding and study, prefaced to the Upanishads (upaniad)
saha nv avatu. saha nau bhunaktu. saha vriyam karavvahai.
May we (two: teacher and student) be protected together! May we enjoy (learning)
together! May we act purposefully together!
tejasvi nv adhtam astu. ma vidvisavahai. aum. nti nti nti.
May our learning be radiant! May we not disagree acrimoniously. Aum (Om), peace,
peace, peace.

The central teaching of the early Upanishads, the most important among the 13 principal texts of
this kind, are the Chndogya Upanishad and the Brihadrayaka Upanishad (BAU) is that the
individual self (Atman, tman) is identical with the real, eternal, undivided universal essence,
Self (Brahman).
Atman is described as a transcendent state or entity, consisting of
Sat ((Unitary, unchanging, eternal Being) Chit (cit, Consciousness)
(nanda: Bliss)

Ananda

Well-known Quotations from the Upanishads. Sanskrit, texts with translation


A
On the identity of Atman and Brahman, the individual /personal consciousness and the
eternal, universal Self.

1. B.A.U (Brihadrayaka Upaniad) I.3.28


asato m sad gamaya
tamaso m jyotir gamaya.
mrtyor m amtam gamaya.

Peterson

Upanishads

Lead me from non-Being (the Unreal) to Being (the Real),


From darkness, lead me to light!
From death, lead me to immortality!
2. Invocation to B.A.U. 5
au pram ada pram ida
prt pram udacyate
prasya pram dya
pram evvaiyate
au nti nti nti
Aum- That is whole, this is whole
The whole is taken from the whole.
When we have taken the whole from the whole,
the whole alone remains. Aum-Peace, peace, peace.
3. From the dialogue of vetaketu and his father Uddlaka rui in the Chndogya Upania,
6.1-3. (R.E.Hume):
Just as, my dear, through the comprehension of one lump of clay all that is made of clay would
become comprehended for the modification is occasioned only on account of a convention of
speech, it is only a name; while clay alone is the reality So, my dear, is that instruction.
(VI.14.3)
tat tvam asi:

"You are that.

4. B.A. U. 4.5.6 (P.Olivelle) From the dialogue between the sage Yajnavalkay and his wife
Maitreyi
tm v are mantavya rotavya nididhysitavya..
You see, Maitrey it is ones self (tman) which one should see and hear, and on which one
should reflect and concentrate. For when one has seen and heard ones self, when one has
reflected and concentrated on ones self, one knows this whole world.

B.A.U. 4.5.15
By what means can one perceive him by means of whom one perceives this whole world?

Peterson

Upanishads

About this self (tman), one can only say not-- , not (neti neti). He is ungraspable, for he
cannot be grasped. He is undecaying, for he is not subject to decay. Look, by what means can
one perceive the perceiver? There, I have given you the instruction, Maitrey. Thats all there is
to immortality (amtatva).

5. Kaha U. 6. 1.
rdhvamlodhakha eovattha santana
tad eva ukram tad brahma tad evmtam ucyate
tasmin lok rit sarve tad u ntyeti kacana
This is the eternal fig tree, with roots above and branches below. That is the pure, that is called
the immortal, Brahman itself. On it are founded all the worlds, and no-one goes beyond it.

On the path of Self-knowledge (brahma-vidy)

1. Kaha Upanisad. 3. 14
uttihata jgrata
prpya varn nibodhata
kurasya dhr niit duratyay
durga pathas tat kavayo vadanti.
Arise, awake, know, achieve your goals, understand them!
The seers (sages) call it the path difficult to achieve, to traverse, sharp as a razor's edge.
(cf. Somerset Maughams novel The Razors Edge).
2. a U. 17
au krato smara kta smara
smara krato smara ktam smara
O will, remember the deed!
Remember the deed, O will, remember the deed!
3. What the Thunder Said (T.S.Eliot quoted from these lines, in his poem The Waste Land)
B.A.U. 5.2.3.

Peterson

Upanishads

This same thing does the divine voice here, thunder, repeat: Da! Da! Da! (damyata, datta,
dayadhvam), that is, restrain yourselves, give, be compassionate.

After the Upanishads


From the Bhagavad Gt
On the Self
II.20

na jyate mriyate v kadcin / nya bhtv bhavit v na bhya


ajo nitya vato'ya puro /na hanyate hanyamne arre
"It is not born, it does not die; having been,
it will never not be;
unborn, enduring, constant, and primordial,
it is not killed when the body is killed.

II.23.

naina chindanti sastri nainam dahati pvakah


nainam kledyanty po na ocayati mruta
Weapons do not cut it, fire does not burn it...."

12. XI.12.

divi sryasya sahasrasya bhaved yugapad utthit..


"If the light of a thousand suns
were to rise in the sky at once,
it would be like the light
of that great spirit."

(cf. Robert Oppenheimer)