[Mandalabrāhmana-Upanishad]1

Brāhmana I

Om. The great muni Yājñavalkya went to Adityaloka (the sun’s world) and saluting him (the Purusha of the sun) said: “O reverend sir, describe to me the Ātmā-tattva (the tattva or truth of Ātmā).”

(To which,) Nārāyana (viz., the Purusha of the sun) replied: “I shall describe the eightfold yoga together with Jñāna. The conquering of cold and heat as well as hunger and sleep, the preserving of (sweet) patience and unruffledness ever and the restraining of the organs (from sensual objects)—all these come under (or are) yama. Devotion to one’s guru, love of the true path, enjoyment of objects producing happiness, internal satisfaction, freedom from association, living in a retired place, the controlling of the manas and the not longing after the fruits of actions and a state of vairāgya—all these constitute niyama. The sitting in any posture pleasant to one and clothed in tatters (or bark) is prescribed for āsana (posture). Inspiration, restraint of breath and expiration, which have respectively 16, 64 and 32 (mātrās) constitute prānāyāma (restraint of breath). The restraining of the mind from the objects of senses is pratyāhāra (subjugation of the senses). The contemplation of the oneness of consciousness in all objects is dhyāna. The mind having been drawn away from the objects of the senses, the fixing of the chaitanya (consciousness) (on one alone) is dhāranā. The forgetting of oneself in dhyāna is samādhi. He who thus knows the eight subtle parts of yoga attains salvation.

“The body has five stains (viz.,) passion, anger, out-breathing, fear, and sleep. The removal of these can be effected respectively by absence of saṅkalpa, forgiveness, moderate food, carefulness, and a spiritual sight of tattvas. In order to cross the ocean of samsāra where sleep and fear are the serpents, injury, etc., are the waves, tṛshnā (thirst) is the whirlpool, and wife is the mire, one should adhere to the subtle path and overstepping tattva2 and other gunas should look out for Tāraka.3 Tāraka is Brahman which being in the middle of the two eyebrows, is of the nature of the spiritual effulgence of Sachchidānanda. The (spiritual) seeing through the three lakshyas (or the three kinds of introvision) is the means to It (Brahman). Sushumnā which is from the mūlādhāra to brahmarandhra has the radiance of the sun. In the centre of it, is kundalinī shining like crores of lightning and subtle as the thread in the lotus-stalk. Tamas is destroyed there. Through seeing it, all sins are destroyed. When the two ears are closed by the tips of the forefingers, a phūtkāra (or booming) sound is heard. When the mind is fixed on it, it sees a blue light between the eyes as also in the heart. (This is antarlakshya or internal introvision). In the bahirlakshya (or external introvision) one sees in order before his nose at distance of 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 digits, the space of blue colour, then a colour resembling śyāma (indigo-black) and then shining as rakta (red) wave and then with the two pīta (yellow and orange red) colours. Then he is a yogin. When one looks at the external space, moving the eyes and sees streaks of light at the corners of his eyes, then his vision can be made steady. When one sees jyotis (spiritual light) above his head 12 digits in length, then he attains the state of nectar. In the madhyalakshya (or the middle one), one sees the variegated colours of the morning as if the sun, the moon and the fire had joined together in the ākāś that is without them. Then he comes to have their nature (of light). Through practice, he becomes one with ākāś, devoid of all gunas and peculiarities. At first ākāś with its shining stars becomes to him Para-ākāś as dark as tamas itself, and he becomes one with Para-ākāś shining with stars and deep as tamas. (Then) he becomes one with Mahā-ākāś resplendent (as) with the fire of the deluge. Then he becomes one with Tattva-ākāś, lighted with the brightness which is the highest and the best of all. Then he becomes one with Sūrya-ākāś (sun-ākāś) brightened by a crore of suns. By practising thus, he becomes one with them. He who knows them becomes thus.

“Know that yoga is twofold through its division into the pūrva (earlier) and the uttara (later). The earlier is tāraka and the later is amanaska (the mindless). Tāraka is divided into mūrti (with limitation) and amūrti (without limitation). That is mūrti tāraka which goes to the end of the senses (or exists till the senses are conquered). That is amūrti tāraka which goes beyond the two eyebrows (above the senses). Both these should be performed through manas. Antardṛshti (internal vision) associated with manas comes to aid tāraka. Tejas (spiritual light) appears in the hole between the two eyebrows. This tāraka is the earlier one. The later is amanaska. The great jyotis (light)4 is above the root of the palate. By seeing it, one gets the siddhis animā, etc. Śāmbhavīmudrā occurs when the lakshya (spiritual vision) is internal while the (physical) eyes are seeing externally without winking. This is the great science which is concealed in all the tantras. When this is known, one does not stay in samsāra. Its worship (or practice) gives salvation. Antarlakshya is of the nature of Jalajyotis (or waterjyotis). It is known by the great Ṛshis and is invisible both to the internal and external senses.

“Sahasrāra (viz., the thousand-petalled lotus of the pineal gland) Jalajyotis5 is the antarlakshya. Some say the form of Purusha in the cave of buddhi beautiful in all its parts is antarlakshya. Some again say that the all-quiescent Nīlakantha accompanied by Umā (his wife) and having five mouths and latent in the midst of the sphere in the brain is antarlakshya. Whilst others say that the Purusha of the dimension of a thumb is antarlakshya. A few again say antarlakshya is the One Self made supreme through introvision in the state of a jīvanmukta. All the different statements above made pertain to Ātmā alone. He alone is a Brahmanishtha who sees that the above lakshya is the pure Ātmā. The jīva which is the twenty-fifth tattva, having abandoned the twenty-four tattvas, becomes a jīvanmukta through the conviction that the twenty-sixth tattva (viz.,) Paramātmā is ‘I’ alone. Becoming one with antarlakshya (Brahman) in the emancipated state by means of antarlakshya (introvision), jīva becomes one with the partless sphere of Paramākāś.

“Thus ends the first Brāhmana.”

Brāhmana II

Then Yājñavalkya asked the Purusha in the sphere of the sun: “O Lord, antarlakshya has been described many times, but it has never been understood by me (clearly). Pray describe it to me.” He replied: “It is the source of the five elements, has the lustre of many (streaks of) lightning, and has four seats having (or rising from) ‘That’ (Brahman). In its midst, there arises the manifestation of tattva. It is very hidden and unmanifested. It can be known (only) by one who has got into the boat of jñāna. It is the object of both bahir and antar (external and internal) lakshyas. In its midst is absorbed the whole world. It is the vast partless universe beyond Nāda, Bindu and Kara. Above it (viz., the sphere of agni) is the sphere of the sun; in its midst is the sphere of the nectary moon; in its midst is the sphere of the partless Brahma-tejas (or the spiritual effulgence of Brahman). It has the brightness of Śukla (white light)6 like the ray of lightning. It alone has the characteristic of Śāmbhavī. In seeing this, there are three kinds of dṛshti (sight), viz., amā (the new moon), pratipat (the first day of lunar fortnight), and pūrnimā (the full moon). The sight of amā is the one (seen) with closed eyes. That with half opened eyes is pratipat; while that with fully opened eyes is pūrnimā. Of these, the practice of pūrnimā should be resorted to. Its lakshya (or aim) is the tip of the nose. Then is seen a deep darkness at the root of the palate. By practising thus, a jyotis (light) of the form of an endless sphere is seen. This alone is Brahman, the Sachchidānanda. When the mind is absorbed in bliss thus naturally produced, then does Śāmbhavī take place. She (Śāmbhavī) alone is called Khecharī. By practising it (viz., the mudrā), a man obtains firmness of mind. Through it, he obtains firmness of vāyu. The following are the signs: first it is seen like a star; then a reflecting (or dazzling) diamond;7 then the sphere of full moon; then the sphere of the brightness of nine gems; then the sphere of the midday sun; then the sphere of the flame of agni (fire); all these are seen in order.

“(Thus much for the light in pūrva or first stage.) Then there is the light in the western direction (in the uttara or second stage). Then the lustres of crystal, smoke, bindu, nāda, kalā, star, firefly, lamp, eye, gold, and nine gems, etc. are seen. This alone is the form of Pranava. Having united Prāna and Apāna and holding the breath in kumbhaka, one should fix his concentration at the tip of his nose and making shanmukhi8 with the fingers of both his hands, one hears the sound of Pranava (Om) in which manas becomes absorbed. Such a man has not even the touch of karma. The karma of (Sandhyāvandana or the daily prayers) is verily performed at the rising or setting of the sun. As there is no rising or setting (but only the ever shining) of the sun of Chit (the higher consciousness) in the heart of a man who knows thus, he has no karma to perform. Rising above (the conception of) day and night through the annihilation of sound and time, he becomes one with Brahman through the all-full jñāna and the attaining of the state of unmanī (the state above manas). Through the state of unmanī, he becomes amanaska (or without manas).

“Not being troubled by any thoughts (of the world) then constitutes the dhyāna.9 The abandoning of all karmas constitutes āvāhana (invocation of god). Being firm in the unshaken (spiritual) wisdom constitutes āsana (posture). Being in the state of unmanī constitutes the pādya (offering of water for washing the feet of god). Preserving the state of amanaska (when manas is offered as sacrifice) constitutes the arghya (offering of water as oblation generally). Being in state of eternal brightness and shoreless nectar constitutes snāna (bathing). The contemplation of Ātmā as present in all constitutes (the application to the idol of) sandal. The remaining in the real state of the dṛk (spiritual eye) is (the worshipping with) akshata;(non-broken rice). The attaining of Chit (consciousness) is (the worshipping with) flower. The real state of agni (fire) of Chit is the dhūpa (burning of incense). The state of the sun of Chit is the dīpa (light waved before the image). The union of oneself with the nectar of full moon is the naivēdya (offering of food, etc.).10 The immobility in that state (of the ego being one with all) is pradakshina (going round the image). The conception of ‘I am He’ is namaskāra (prostration). The silence (then) is the stuti (praise). The all-contentment (or serenity then) is the visarjana (giving leave to god or finishing worship). (This is the worship of Ātmā by all Raja-yogins). He who knows this knows all.

“When the triputi11 are thus dispelled, he becomes the kaivalya jyotis without bhāva (existence) or abhāva (nonexistence), full and motionless, like the ocean without the tides or like the lamp without the wind. He becomes a brahmavit (knower of Brahman) by cognising the end of the sleeping state, even while in the waking state. Though the (same) mind is absorbed in sushupti as also in samādhi, there is much difference between them. (In the former case) as the mind is absorbed in tamas, it does not become the means of salvation, (but) in samādhi as the modifications of tamas in him are rooted away, the mind raises itself to the nature of the Partless. All that is no other than Sākshi-Chaitanya (witness-consciousness or the Higher Self) into which the absorption of the whole universe takes place, inasmuch as the universe is but a delusion (or creation) of the mind and is therefore not different from it. Though the universe appears perhaps as outside of the mind, still it is unreal. He who knows Brahman and who is the sole enjoyer of brāhmic bliss which is eternal and has dawned once (for all in him)—that man becomes one with Brahman. He in whom saṅkalpa perishes has got mukti in his hand. Therefore one becomes an emancipated person through the contemplation of Paramātmā. Having given up both bhāva and abhāva, one becomes a jīvanmukta by leaving off again and again in all states jñāna (wisdom) and jñeya (object of wisdom), dhyāna (meditation) and dhyeya (object of meditation), lakshya (the aim) and alakshya (non-aim), dṛśya (the visible) and adṛśya (the non-visible and ūha (reasoning) and apoha (negative reasoning).12 He who knows this knows all.

“There are five avasthās (states), viz.: jāgrat (waking), svapna (dreaming), sushupti (dreamless sleeping), the turya (fourth) and turyātīta (that beyond the fourth). The jīva (ego) that is engaged in the waking state becomes attached to the pravṛtti (worldly) path and is the participator of naraka (hell) as the fruit of sins. He desires svarga (heaven) as the fruit of his virtuous actions. This very same person becomes (afterwards) indifferent to all these saying, “Enough of the births tending to actions, the fruits of which tend to bondage till the end of this mundane existence.” Then he pursues the nivṛtti (return) path with a view to attain emancipation. And this person then takes refuge in a spiritual instructor in order to cross this mundane existence. Giving up passion and others, he does only those he is asked to do. Then having acquired the four sādhanas (means to salvation), he attains, in the middle of the lotus of his heart, the Reality of antarlakshya that is but the Sat of Lord and begins to recognise (or recollect) the bliss of Brahman which he had left (or enjoyed) in his sushupti state. At last he attains this state of discrimination (thus): ‘I think I am the non-dual One only. I was in ajñāna for some time (in the waking state and called therefore Viśva). I became somehow (or involuntarily) a Taijasa (in the dreaming state) through the reflection (in that state) of the affinities of the forgotten waking state; and now I am a Prājña through the disappearance of those two states. Therefore I am one only. I (appear) as more than one through the differences of state and place. And there is nothing of differentiation of class besides me.’ Having expelled even the smack of the difference (of conception) between ‘I’ and ‘That’ through the thought ‘I am the pure and the secondless Brahman’, and having attained the path of salvation which is of the nature of Parabrahman, after having become one with It through the dhyāna of the sun’s sphere as shining with himself, he becomes fully ripened for getting salvation. Saṅkalpa and others are the causes of the bondage of the mind; and the mind devoid of these becomes fit for salvation. Possessing such a mind free from all (saṅkalpa, etc.,) and withdrawing himself from the outer world of sight and others and so keeping himself out of the odour of the universe, he looks upon all the world as Ātmā, abandons the conception of ‘I’, thinks I am Brahman’ and considers all these as Ātmā. Through these, he becomes one who has done his duty.

“The yogin is one that has realised Brahman that is all-full beyond turya. They (the people) extol him as Brahman; and becoming the object of the praise of the whole world, he wanders over different countries. Placing the bindu in the ākāś of Paramātmā and pursuing the path of the partless bliss produced by the pure, secondless, stainless, and innate yoga sleep of amanaska, he becomes an emancipated person. Then the yogin becomes immersed in the ocean of bliss. When compared to it, the bliss of Indra and others is very little. He who gets this bliss is the supreme yogin.

“Thus ends the second Brāhmana.”

Brāhmana III

The great sage Yājñavalkya then asked the Purusha in the sphere (of the sun): “O Lord, though the nature of amanaska has been defined (by you), yet I forget it (or do not understand it clearly). Therefore pray explain it again to me.” Accordingly the Purusha said: “This amanaska is a great secret. By knowing this, one becomes a person who has done his duty. One should look upon it as Paramātmā, associated with Śāmbhavīmudrā and should know also all those that can be known through a (thorough) cognition of them. Then seeing Parabrahman in his own Ātma as the Lord of all, the immeasurable, the birthless, the auspicious, the supreme ākāś, the supportless, the secondless the only goal of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra and the cause of all and assuring himself that he who plays in the cave (of the heart) is such a one, he should raise himself above the dualities of existence and non-existence; and knowing the experience of the unmanī of his manas, he then attains the state of Parabrahman which is motionless as a lamp in a windless place, having reached the ocean of brāhmic bliss by means of the river of amanaska-yoga through the destruction of all his senses. Then he resembles a dry tree. Having lost all (idea of) the universe through the disappearance of growth, sleep, disease, expiration and inspiration, his body being always steady, he comes to have a supreme quiescence, being devoid of the movements of his manas and becomes absorbed in Paramātma. The destruction of manas takes place after the destruction of the collective senses, like the cow’s udder (that shrivels up) after the milk has been drawn. It is this that is amanaska. By following this, one becomes always pure and becomes one that has done his duty, having been filled with the partless bliss by means of the path of tāraka-yoga through the initiation into the sacred sentences ‘I am Paramātmā,’ ‘That art thou,’ ‘I am thou alone,’ ‘Thou art I alone,’ etc.

“When his manas is immersed in the ākāś and he becomes all-full, and when he attains the unmanī state, having abandoned all his collective senses, he conquers all sorrows and impurities through the partless bliss, having attained the fruits of kaivalya, ripened through the collective merits gathered in all his previous lives and thinking always ‘I am Brahman,’ becomes one that has done his duty. ‘I am thou alone. There is no difference between thee and me owing to the fullness of Paramātmā.’ Saying thus, he (the Purusha of the sun) embraced his pupil13 and made him understand it.

“Thus ends the third Brāhmana.”

Brāhmana IV

Then Yājñavalkya addressed the Purusha in the sphere (of the sun) thus: “Pray explain to me in detail the nature of the fivefold division of ākāś.” He replied: “There are five (viz.): ākāś, parākāś, mahākāś, sūryākāś, and paramākāś. That which is of the nature of darkness, both in and out is the first ākāś. That which has the fire of the deluge, both in and out is truly mahākāś. That which has the brightness of the sun, both in and out is sūryākāś. That brightness which is indescribable, all-pervading and of the nature of unrivalled bliss is paramākāś. By cognising these according to this description, one becomes of their nature. He is a yogin only in name, who does not cognise well the nine chakras, the six ādhāras, the three lakshyas and the five ākāś. Thus ends the fourth Brāhmana.”

Brāhmana V

“The manas influenced by worldly objects is liable to bondage; and that (manas) which is not so influenced by these is fit for salvation. Hence all the world becomes an object of chitta; whereas the same chitta when it is supportless and well-ripe in the state of unmanī, becomes worthy of laya (absorption in Brahman). This absorption you should learn from me who am the all-full. I alone am the cause of the absorption of manas. The manas is within the jyotis (spiritual light) which again is latent in the spiritual sound which pertains to the anāhata (heart) sound. That manas which is the agent of creation, preservation, and destruction of the three worlds—that same manas becomes absorbed in that which is the highest seat of Vishnu; through such an absorption, one gets the pure and secondless state, owing to the absence of difference then. This alone is the highest truth. He who knows this, will wander in the world like a lad or an idiot or a demon or a simpleton. By practising this amanaska, one is ever contented, his urine and fæces become diminished, his food becomes lessened: he becomes strong in body and his limbs are free from disease and sleep. Then his breath and eyes being motionless, he realises Brahman and attains the nature of bliss.

“That ascetic who is intent on drinking the nectar of Brahman produced by the long practice of this kind of samādhi, becomes a paramahamsa (ascetic) or an avadhūta (naked ascetic). By seeing him, all the world becomes pure, and even an illiterate person who serves him is freed from bondage. He (the ascetic) enables the members of his family for one hundred and one generations to cross the ocean of samsāra; and his mother, father, wife, and children—all these are similarly freed. Thus is the Upanishad. Thus ends the fifth Brāhmana.”


1. Mandala means sphere. As the Purusha in the mandala or sphere of the sun gives out this Upanishad to Yājñavalkya, hence it is called Mandala-Brāhmana. It is very mystic. There is a book called Rājayoga Bhāshya which is a commentary thereon; in the light of it which is by some attributed to Śri Saṅkarāchārya, notes are given herein.

2. Comm.: Rising above the seven Prānas, one should with introvision cognise in the region of Ākās, Tamas and should then make Tamas get into Rajas, Rajas into Sattva, Sattva into Nārāyana and Nārāyana, into the Supreme One.

3. Tāraka is from tr., to cross, as it enables one to cross samsāra. The higher vision is here said to take place in a centre between the eyebrows—probably in the brain.

4. The commentator puts it as 12 digits above the root of the palate—perhaps the Dvādasānta or twelfth centre corresponding to the pituitary body.

5. The commentator to support the above that antarlakshya, viz., Brahman is jala- or water-jyotis quotes the Prānāyāma-Gāyatrī which says: “Om Āpojyotī-raso’amṛtam-Brahma, etc.”—Apo-jyotis or water-jyotis is Brahman.

6. Comm.: Śukla is Brahman.

7. The original is, ‘Vajra-Darpanam.’

8. Shanmukhi is said to be the process of hearing the internal sound by closing the two ears with the two thumbs, the two eyes with the two forefingers, the two nostrils with the two middle fingers, and the mouth with the remaining two fingers of both hands.

9. In this paragraph, the higher or secret meaning is given of all actions done in the pūjā or worship of God in the Hindū houses as well as temples. Regarding the clothing of the idol which is left out here, the commentator explains it as āvarana or screen.

10. Here also the commentator brings in nīrājana or the waving of the light before the image. That is according to him, the idea, “I am the self-shining.”

11. The Triputi are the three, the knower, the known and the knowledge. Comm.: Dhyāna and others stated before wherein the three distinctions are made.

12. Ūha and apoha—the consideration of the pros and cons.

13. This is a reference to the secret way of imparting higher truth.