[Brahmopanishad]1

[This Upanishad is intended to give a complete and clear idea of the nature of Ātmā, that has four avasthās (states of consciousness) and four seats, for the better consummation of the nirguna dhyāna.]

Om. Śaunaka Mahāśala questioned the holy Sage Pippalāda of the Aṅgiras gotra thus: “In this beautiful Brahmapura of body, the fit residence of divine beings, how are (the deities of) vāk, etc., located? How do they function? To whom belongs this power? He to whom this power belongs, what is He?”

Pippalāda then having deeply considered, imparted to him the Brahmavidyā (divine wisdom), that most excellent of all things. “It is prāna (i.e.,) Ātmā. It is Ātmā that exercises this power. It is the life of all Devas. It is their death and (their) life. Brahman that shines pure, nishkala, resplendent, and all-pervading, in this divine Brahmapura (of body), rules (all). The Jīva (identifying himself with) the indriyas, rules them like a spider. The spider throws out from a single thread out of his body a whole web, and draws it into himself by that same thread; so prāna, whenever it goes, draws after it the objects of its creation (vāk, etc.). During sushupti, (the prāna) goes to its seat (Brahman) through the nādis of which is the devatā, like an eagle, that making air as the means of communication, reaches his abode. They say, as devadatta, though beaten (during sushupti) by a stick, etc., does not move, so also the actor does not suffer or enjoy for the merits or demerits of religious actions. Just as a child obtains happiness without desiring for it (in play), so also devadatta obtains happiness in sushupti. He certainly knows, (being) Param-Jyotis, and the person desiring jyotis, enjoys bliss in the contemplation of jyotis. Then he comes back to the dream-plane by the same way, like a caterpillar. It remaining on a blade of grass, first puts forward its foot on another blade in front, conveys its body to it, and having got a firm hold of it, then only leaves the former and not before. So this is the jāgrata state. As this (devadatta) bears at the same time eight skulls, so this jāgrata, the source of Devas and Vedas, clings to a man like the breasts in a woman. During the jāgrata avasthā, merit and demerit are postulated of this Deva (power); he is capable of great expansion and is the inner mover. He is khaga (bird), karkata (crab), pushkara (ākāś), prāna, pain, parāpara, Ātmā and Brahman. This deity causes to know. He who knows thus obtains Brahman, the supreme, the support of all things, and the Kshetrajña. He obtains Brahman, the supreme, support of all things, and the Kshetrajña.

2“The Pursuha has four seats—navel, heart, neck, and head. There Brahman with the four feet specially shines. Those feet are jāgrata, svapna, sushupti, and turya. In jāgrata he is Brahmā, in svapna Vishnu, in sushupti Rudra, and in turya the supreme Akshara. He is Aditya, Vishnu, Īśvara, Purusha, prāna, jīva, agni, the resplendent. The Para-Brahman shines in the midst of these. He is without manas, ear, hands, feet, and light. There the worlds are no worlds, Devas no Devas, Vedas no Vedas, sacrifices no sacrifices, mother no mother, father no father, daughter-in-law no daughter-in-law, chaṅdāla no chaṅdāla, paulkasa no paulkasa, śramana no śramana, hermits no hermits; so one only Brahman shines as different. In the Hṛdayākāś (ākāś in the heart) is the Chidākāś. That is Brahman. It is extremely subtle. The Hṛdayākāś can be known. This moves in it. In Brahman, everything is strung. Those who thus know the Lord know everything. In him the Devas, the worlds, the Pitṛs and the Ṛshis do not rule. He who has awakened knows everything. All the Devas are in the heart; in the heart are all the prānas: in the heart are prāna, jyotis and that three-plied holy thread. In the heart in Chaitanya, it (prāna) is.3 Put on the yajñopavīta (holy thread), the supreme, the holy, which came into existence along with the Prajāpati, which gives long life and which is very excellent; let this give you strength and tejas. The wise man having shaved his head completely, should throw away the external thread. He should wear, as the holy thread, the supreme and indestructible Brahman. It is called sūtra, because sūchanāt (indicating) (that the Ātmā is in the heart). Sūtra means the supreme abode. He who knows that sūtra is a vipra (brāhmana), he has crossed the ocean of the Vedas. On that sūtra (thread), everything is strung, like the beads on the thread. The yogin, well versed in yoga and having a clear perception of Truth, should wear the thread. Practising the noble yoga, the wise man should abandon the external thread. He who wears the sūtra as Brahman, he is an intelligent being. By wearing the sūtra, he is not polluted. They whose sūtra is within, whose yajñopavīta is jñāna—they only know the sūtra, and, they only wear the yajñopavīta in this world. Those whose tuft of hair is jñāna, who are firmly grounded in jñāna and whose yajñopavīta is jñāna, consider jñāna only as supreme. Jñāna is holy and excellent. He whose śikhā (tuft of hair) is jñāna like the śikhi (flame of agni)—he, the wise one, only wears a true śikhā; others wear a mere tuft of hair. Those brāhmanas and others who perform the ceremonies prescribed in the Vedas—they wear this thread only as a symbol of their ceremonies. Those who know the Vedas say that he only is a true brāhmana who wears the śikhā of jñāna and whose yajñopavīta is the same (jñāna). This yajñopavīta (Yajña means Vishnu or sacrifice and Upavīta is that which surrounds; hence that which surrounds Vishnu) is supreme and is the supreme refuge. He who wears that really knows—he only wears the sūtra, he is Yajña (Vishnu) and he only knows Yajña (Vishnu). One God hidden in all things, pervades all things and is the Inner Life of all things. He awards the fruits of karma, he lives in all things, he sees all things without any extraneous help, he is the soul of all, there is nothing like him, and he is without any gunas (being secondless). He is the great wise one. He is the one doer among the many action-less objects. He is always making one thing appear as several (by māyā). Those wise men who see him in buddhi, they only obtain eternal peace. Having made Ātmā as the (upper) arani (attritional piece of wood) and Pranava the lower arani, by constant practice of dhyāna one should see the concealed deity. As the oil in the sesamum seed, as the ghee in the curds, as the water in the rivers, and as the fire in the arani, so they who practise truth and austerities see Him in the buddhi. As the spider throws out and draws into itself the threads, so the jīva goes and returns during the jāgrata and the svapna states. The heart is in the form of a closed lotus-flower, with its head hanging down; it has a hole in the top. Know it to be the great abode of All. Know that during jāgrata it (jīva) dwells in the eye, and during svapna in the throat; during sushupti, it is in the heart and during turya in the head.4 (Because buddhi unites) the Pratyagātma with the Paramātma, the worship of sandhyā (union) arose. So we should perform sandhyāvandana (rites). The sandhyāvandana performed by dhyāna requires no water. It gives no trouble to the body or the speech. That which unites all things is the sandhyā of the one-staffed (sannyāsins). Knowing That from which speech and mind turn back without being able to obtain it and That which is the bliss of jīva, the wise one is freed. The secret of Brahmavidyā is to reveal the real nature of the Ātmā, that is all-pervading, that is like ghee in the milk, that is the source of ātmavidyā and tapas and to show that everything is in essence one.

“So ends the Brahmopanishad.”


1. In this Upanishad, the Southern Indian edition begins later on but the other portions also are given as being fuller.

2. The South Indian Edition begins here.

3. This mantra is repeated whenever the holy thread is newly worn.

4. The five sentences from here relating to Sandhyā are not to be found in the South Indian Edition.