[Paiṅgala Upanishad]1

Adhyāya I

Om. Paiṅgala, having served under Yājñavalkya for twelve years, asked him to initiate him into the supreme mysteries of Kaivalya. To which Yājñavalkya replied thus: “O gentle one, at first, this (universe) was Sat (Be-ness) only. It (Sat) is spoken of as Brahman which is ever free (from the trammels of matter), which is changeless, which is Truth, Wisdom, and Bliss, and which is full, permanent, and one only without a second. In It, was like a mirage in the desert, silver in mother-of-pearl, a person in the pillar, or colour, etc., in the crystals, mūlaprakṛti, having in equal proportions the gunas, red,2 white, and black, and being beyond the power of speech. That which is reflected in it is Sākshi-Chaitanya (lit., the witness-consciousness), It (mūlaprakṛti) undergoing again change becomes with the preponderance of Sattva (in it), Āvarana3 Śakti named avyakta. That which is reflected in it (Avyakta) is Īśvara-Chaitanya. He (Īśvara) has Māyā under his control, is omniscient, the original cause of creation, preservation, and dissolution, and the seed of this universe. He causes the universe which was latent in Him, to manifest itself through the bonds of karma of all creatures like a painted canvas unfurled. Again through the extinction of their karmas, he makes it disappear. In Him alone is latent all the universe, wrapped up like a painted cloth. Then from the supreme (Āvarana) Śakti, dependent on (or appertaining to Īśvara, arose, through the preponderance of Rajas, Vikshepa4 Śakti called Mahat. That which is reflected in it is Hiranyagarbha-Chaitanya. Presiding (as He does) over Mahat, He (Hiranyagarbha) has a body, both manifested and unmanifested.5 From Vikshepa Śakti, of Hiranyagarbha arose, through the preponderance of Tamas, the gross Śakti called ahaṅkāra. That which is reflected in it is Virāt-Chaitanya. He (Virāt) presiding over it (ahaṅkāra) and possessing a manifested body becomes Vishnu, the chief Purusha and protector of all gross bodies. From that Ātmā arose ākāś; from ākāś arose vāyu, from vāyu agni, from agni apas, and from apas pṛthivī. The five tanmātras6 (rudimentary properties) alone are the gunas (of the above five). That generating cause of the universe (Īśvara) wishing to create and having assumed tamo-guna, wanted to convert the elements which were subtle tanmātras into gross ones. In order to create the universe, he divided into two parts each of those divisible elements; and having divided each moiety into four parts, made a fivefold mixture, each element having moiety of its own original element and one-fourth of a moiety of each of the other elements, and thus evolved out of the fivefold classified gross elements, the many myriads of Brahmāndas (Brahma’s egg or macrocosm), the fourteen worlds pertaining to each sphere, and the spherical gross bodies (microcosm) fit for the (respective) worlds. Having divided the Rajas-essence of the five elements into four parts, He out of three such parts created (the five) prānas having fivefold function. Again out of the (remaining) fourth part, He created karmendriyas (the organs of action). Having divided their Sattva-essence into four parts, He out of three such parts created the antaḥkarana (internal organ) having fivefold function. Out of the (remaining) fourth part of Śattva-essence, he created the jñānendriyas (organs of sense). Out of the collective totality of Sattva-essence, He created the devatās (deities) ruling over the organs of sense and actions. Those (devatās) He created, He located in the spheres (pertaining to them). They through His orders, began to pervade the macrocosm. Through His orders, Virat associated with ahaṅkāra created all the gross things. Through His orders, Hiranyagarbha protected the subtle things. Without Him, they that were located in their spheres were unable to move or to do anything. Then He wished to infuse chetana (life) into them. Having pierced the Brahmānda (Brahma’s egg or macrocosm) and Brahmarandhras (head-fontanelle) in all the microcosmic heads, He entered within. Though they were (at first) inert, they were then able to perform karmas like beings of intelligence. The omniscient Īśvara entered the microcosmic bodies with a particle of Māyā and being deluded by that Māyā, acquired the state of diva. Identifying the three bodies with Himself, He acquired the state of the actor and enjoyer. Associated with the attributes of the states of jāgrat, svapna, sushupti, trance, and death and being immersed in sorrow, he is (whirled about and) deluded like water-lift or potter’s wheel, as if subject to birth and death.”

Adhyāya II

Paiṅgala again addressed Yājñavalkya thus: “How did Īśvara, who is the creator, preserver, and destroyer and the Lord of all the worlds, acquire the state of Jīva?” To which Yājñavalkya replied: “I shall tell in detail the nature of Jīva and Īśvara, together with a description of the origin of the gross, subtle, and kārana (causal) bodies. Hear attentively with one-pointed mind.

“Īśvara having taken a small portion of the quintuplicated mahā-bhūtas, (the great elements), made in regular order the gross bodies, both collective and segregate. The skull, the skin, the intestines, bone, flesh, and nails are of the essence of pṛthivī. Blood, urine, saliva, sweat and others are of the essence of āpas. Hunger, thirst, heat, delusion, and copulation are of the essence of agni. Walking, lifting, breathing and others are of the essence of vāyu. Passion, anger, etc., are of the essence of ākāś. The collection of these having touch and the rest is this gross body that is brought about by karma, that is the seat of egoism in youth and other states and that is the abode of many sins. Then He created prānas out of the collective three parts of Rajas-essence of the fivefold divided elements. The modifications of prāna are prāna, apāna, vyāna, udāna, and samāna; nāga, karma, kṛkara, devadatta and dhanañjaya are the auxiliary prānas. (Of the first five), the heart, anus, navel, throat and the whole body are respectively the seats. Then He created the karmendriyas out of the fourth part of the Rajas-guna. Of ‘Olds’ and the rest the mouth, legs, hands, and the organs of secretion and excretion are the modifications. Talking, walking, lifting, excreting, and enjoying are their functions. Likewise out of the collective three parts of Sattva-essence, He created the antaḥkarana (internal organ). Antaḥkarana,7 manas, buddhi, chitta, and ahaṅkāra are the modifications. Saṅkalpa (thought), certitude, memory, egoism, and anusandhāna (inquiry) are their functions. Throat, face, navel,8 heart, and the middle of the brow are their seats. Out of the (remaining) fourth part of Sattva-essence, He created the jñānendriyas (organs of sense). Ear, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose are the modifications. Sound, touch, form, taste, and odour are their functions. Dik (the quarters), Vāyu, Arka (the sun), Varuna, Aśvini Devas, Indra, Upendra, Mṛtyu (the God of death), Prajāpati, the Moon, Vishnu the four-faced Brahma and Śambhu (Śiva) are the presiding deities of the organs. There are the five kośas (sheaths), viz., annamaya, prānamaya, manomaya, vijñānamaya, and ānandamaya. Annamaya sheath is that which is created and developed out of the essence of food, and is absorbed into the earth which is of the form of food. It alone is the gross body. The prānas with the karmendriyas (organs of action) is the prānamaya sheath. Manas with the jñānendriyas (organs of sense) is the manomaya sheath. Buddhi with the jñānendriyas is the vijñānamaya sheath. These three sheaths constitute the liṅgaśarīra (or the subtle body). (That which tends to) the ajñāna (ignorance) of the Reality (of Ātmā) is the ānandamaya sheath. This is the kārana body. Moreover the five organs of sense, the five organs of action, the five prānas and others, the five ākāś and other elements, the four internal organs, avidyā, passion, karma, and Lamas—all these constitute this town (of body).

“Virāt, under the orders of Īśvara having entered this microcosmic body, and having buddhi as his vehicle, reaches the state of Viśva. Then he goes by the several names of Viñjānātma, Chidābhāsa, Viśva, Vyāvahārika, the one presiding over the waking gross body and the one generated by karma. Sūtrātmā, under the orders of Īśvara, having entered the microcosmic subtle body, and having manas as his vehicle, reaches the Taijasa state. Then he goes by the names of taijasa, prātibhāsika and svapnakalpita (the one bred out of dream). Then under the orders of Īśvara, he who is coupled with avyakta, the vehicle of Māyā having entered the microcosmic kārana body, reaches the state of prajñā. He goes then by the names of prajñā, avichchinna, and pāramārthika and sushupthi-abhimāni (the presider over sushupti). Such sacred sentences, as Tattvamasi (That art thou) and others, speak of the identity with the Brahman of the Pāramārthika-Jīva enveloped by ajñāna, which is but a small particle of avyakta; but not vyāvahārika and prātibhāsika (Jīvas). It is only that chaitanya which is reflected in antaḥkarana that attains the three states. When it assumes the three states of jāgrat, swapna, and sushupti, it is like a water-lift as if grieved, born and dead. There are five avasthās—jāgrat, swapna, sushupti, mūrchchhā (trance), and death. Jāgrat avasthā is that in which there is the perception of objects, of sound, etc., through the grace of the devatā presiding over each of them. In it, the Jīva, being in the middle of the eyebrows and pervading the body from head to foot, becomes the agent of actions, such as doing, hearing and others. He becomes also the enjoyer of the fruits thereof; and such a person doing karma for the fruits thereof goes to other worlds and enjoys the same there. Like an emperor tired of worldly acts (in the waking state), he strives to find the path to retire into his abode within. The svapna avasthā is that in which, when the senses are at rest, there is the manifestation of the knower and the known, along with the affinities of (things enjoyed in) the waking state. In this state Viśva alone, its actions in the waking state having ceased, reaches the state of Taijasa (of tejas or effulgence), who moves in the middle of the nādīs (nerves), illuminates by his lustre the heterogeneity of this universe which is of the form of affinities, and himself enjoys according to his wish. The sushupti avasthā is that in which the chitta is sole organ (at play). Just as a bird, tired of roaming, flies to its nest with its stomach filled, so the Jīva being tired of the actions of the world in the waking and dreaming states, enters ajñāna and enjoys bliss. Then trance is attained which resembles death, and in which one with his collection of organs quails, as it were, through fear and ajñāna, like one beaten unexpectedly by a hammer, club or any other weapon. Then death avasthā is that which is other than the avasthās of jāgrat, svapna, sushupti, and trance, which produces fear in all Jīvas from Brahma down to small insects and which dissolves the gross body. The Jīva, that is surrounded by avidyā and the subtle elements, takes with it the organs of sense and action, their objects, and prānas along with the kāmic karmas and goes to another world, assuming another body. Through the ripening of the fruits of previous karmas, the Jīva has no rest like an insect in a whirlpool. It is only after many births that the desire of emancipation arises in man through the ripening of good karma. Then having resorted to a good Guru and served under him for a long time, one out of many attains moksha, free from bondage. Bondage is through non-inquiry and moksha through inquiry. Therefore there should always be inquiry (into Ātmā). The Reality should be ascertained through adhyāropa (illusory attribution) and apavād (withdrawal or recession of that idea). Therefore there should be always inquiring into the universe, Jīva and Paramātmā. Were the true nature of Jīva and the universe known, then there remains Brahman which is non-different from Pratyagātmā.”

Adhyāya III

Then Paiṅgala asked Yājñavalkya to offer an exposition on the mahāvākyas (sacred sentences of the Vedas). To which Yājñavalkya replied: “One should scrutinise (the sacred sentences), Tattvamasi (That art thou), Tvamtadasi (Thou art That), Twambrahmasi (Thou art Brahman) and Ahambrahmāsmi (I am Brahman). The word ‘Tat’ denotes the cause of the universe that is variegated beyond perception, has the characteristics of omniscience, has Māyā as His vehicle and has the attributes of Sachchidānanda. It is He that is the basis of the notion ‘I’ which has the differentiated knowledge produced by antaḥkarana; and it is He that is denoted by the word ‘Twam’ (Thou). That is the undifferentiated Brahman which remains as the aim (or meaning) of the words Tat and Tvam after freeing itself from Māyā and Avidyā which are respectively the vehicles of Paramātmā and Jīvātmā. The inquiry into the real significance of the sentences Tattvamasi and Ahambrahmāsmi forms (what is called) śravana (hearing—the first stage of inquiry). To inquire in solitude into the significance of śravana is manana. The concentration of the mind with one-pointedness upon that which should be sought after by śravana and manana is nididhyāsana. Samādhi is that state in which chitta having given up (the conception of the difference of) the meditator and the meditation, becomes of the form of the meditated like a lamp in a place without wind. Then arise the modifications pertaining to Ātmā. Such (modifications) cannot be known; but they can only be inferred through memory (of the samādhi state). The myriads of karmas committed in this beginningless cycle of rebirths are annihilated only through them. Through proficiency in practice, the current of nectar9 always rains down in diverse ways. Therefore those who know Yoga call this samādhi, dharma-megha (cloud). Through these (modifications of Ātmā), the collection of affinities is absorbed without any remainder whatever. When the accumulated good and bad karmas are wholly destroyed, these sentences (Tattvamasi and Ahambrahmāsmi), like the myrobalan in the palm of the hand, bring him face to face with the ultimate Reality, though It was before invisible. Then he becomes a Jīvanmukta.

“Īśvara wished to produce non-quintuplication (or involution) in the fivefold differentiated elements. Having drawn into their cause Brahma’s egg and its effects of worlds, and mixed together the subtle organs of sense and action and the four internal organs and dissolved all things composed of the elements into their cause, the five elements, He then caused pṛthivī to merge into water, water into agni, agni into vāyu, and vāyu into ākāś, ākāś into ahaṅkāra, akaṅkāra into mahat, mahat into avyakta, and avyakta into Purusha in regular order. Virat, Hiranyagarbha and Īśvara being freed from the vehicle of Māyā, are absorbed into Paramātmā. This gross body composed of the five differentiated elements and obtained through accumulated karma, is merged into its subtle state of non-quintuplicated elements, through the extinction of (bad) karma and increase of good karma, then attains its kārana (causal) state and (finally) is absorbed into its cause, (viz.,) Kūtastha-Pratyagātma. Viśva and Taijasa and Prājña, their upādhi (of avidyā) having become extinct, are absorbed in Pratyagātmā. This sphere (of universe) being burnt up by the fire of jñāna is absorbed along with its cause into Paramātmā. Therefore a Brāhmana should be careful and always meditate upon the identity of Tat and Tvam. Then Ātmā shines, like the sun freed from the (obscuration of the) clouds. One should meditate upon Ātmā in the midst (of the body) like a lamp within a jar.

“Ātmā, the Kūtastha, should be meditated upon as being of the size of a thumb, as being of the nature of the jyotis (light) without smoke, as being within, illuminating all and as being indestructible. That Muni (sage) who meditates (upon Ātmā always) until sleep or death comes upon him passes into the state of (Jīvanmukti) emancipation like the immovable state of the wind. Then there remains that One (Brahman) without sound, touch, free from destruction, without taste or odour, which is eternal, which is without beginning or end, which is beyond, the Tattva of Mahat, and which is permanent and without stain or disease.”

Adhyāya IV

Then Paiṅgala addressed Yājñavalkya thus: “To the wise, what is their karma? And what is their state?” To which Yājñavalkya replied: “A lover of moksha, having humility10 and other possessions (or virtues), enables twenty-one generations to cross (to Ātmā). One through his being a Brahmavit11 alone enables 101 generations to cross. Know Ātmā to be the rider and the body as the chariot. Know also buddhi as the charioteer and manas as the reins. The wise say the organs are the horses, the objects are the roads (through which the horses travel) and the hearts are the moving balloons. Mahāṛshis say that Ātmā, when associated with the sense organs and manas, is the enjoyer. Therefore it is the actual Nārāyana alone that is established in the heart. Till his prārabdha karma12 is worn out, he exists (in his body) as in the (cast-off) slough of a serpent (without any desire for the body). An emancipated person having such a body roves about like a moon gladdening all with no settled place of abode. He gives up his body whether in a sacred place, or in a chaṅdāla’s (out-caste’s) house (without any distinction whatever), and attains salvation. Such a body (when seen by a person) should be offered as a sacrifice to dik (the quarters) or should be buried (underground). It is only to Purusha (the wise) that sannyāsa (renunciation) is ordained and not to others. In case of the death of an ascetic who is of the form (or has attained the nature) of Brahman, there is no pollution (to be observed); neither the ceremonies of fire (as burning the body, homa, etc.); nor the pinda (balls of rice), nor ceremonies of water, nor the periodical ceremonies (monthly and yearly). Just as a food once cooked is not again cooked, so a body once burnt (by the fire of wisdom) should not be burnt (or exposed to fire) again. To one whose body was burnt by the fire of wisdom there is neither śrāddha13 (required to be performed), nor (funeral) ceremony. So long as there is the upādhi (of non-wisdom) in one, so long should he serve the Guru. He should conduct himself towards his Guru’s wife and children as he does to his Guru. If being of a pure mind, of the nature of immaculate Chit and resigned, and having the discrimination arising from the attainment of wisdom “I am He,” he should concentrate his heart on Paramātmā and obtain firm peace in his body, then he becomes of the nature of Jyotis, void of manas and buddhi. Of what avail is milk to one content with nectar? Of what avail are the Vedas to him who has known his Ātmā thus? For a Yogin content with the nectar of wisdom, there is nothing more to be done. If he has to do anything, then he is not a knower of Tattva. Pratyagātmā though far (or difficult of attainment), is not far; though in the body, he is devoid of it (since) he is all-pervading. After having purified the heart and contemplated on the One without disease (viz., Brahman), the cognizing of ‘I’ as the supreme and the all is the highest bliss. Like water mixed with water, milk with milk, and ghee with ghee, so Jīvātmā and Paramātmā are without difference. When the body is rendered bright through wisdom and the buddhi becomes of the partless One, then the wise man burns the bondage of karma through the fire of Brahma-jñāna. Then he becomes purified, of the nature of the non-dual named Parmeśvara and the light like the stainless ākāś. Like water mixed with water, so Jīva (-Ātmā) becomes upādhiless (or freed from the bonds of matter). Ātma, is, like ākāś, of an invisible form. (Therefore) the inner Ātmā is invisible like vāyu. Though he is within and without, he is the immovable Ātmā. Through the torch of wisdom, the internal Ātmā sees (or knows).

“A wise man, in whatever place or manner he dies, is absorbed in that place like the all-pervading ākāś. It should be known that Ātmā is absorbed as truly as the ākāś in the pot (when broken). Then he attains the all-pervading wisdom-light that is without support. Though men should perform tapas standing on one leg for a period of 1,000 years, it will not, in the least, be equal to one-sixteenth part of dhyānayoga. One desirous of knowing what jñāna (wisdom) and jñeya (the object to be known) are, will not be able to attain his desired end, even though he may study the Śāstras for 1,000 years. That which is alone should be known as the indestructible. That which exists (in this world) is only impermanent. (Therefore) after having given up (the study of) the many Śāstras, one should worship that which is satya (truth). The many karmas, purity (of mind and heart), japa (the muttering of mantras), sacrifice and pilgrimages—all these should be observed till Tattva is known. For Mahatmas (noble souls) to be always in (the conception of) ‘I am Brahman’ conduces to their salvation. There are two causes (that lead) to bondage and emancipation. They are ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’. Through ‘mine’ creatures are bound, whereas through ‘not mine’ they are released from bondage. When the mind attains the state of Unmani (above manas, viz., when it is destroyed), then there is never the conception of duality. When the Unmani state occurs, then is the supreme Seat (attained). (After which) wherever the mind goes, there is the supreme Seat (to it, viz., the mind enjoys salvation wherever it is). That which is equal in all is Brahman alone. One may attain the power to strike the ākāś with his fist; he may appease his hunger by eating husks (of grain), but never shall he attain emancipation who has not the self-cognition, ‘I am Brahman’.

“Whoever recites this Upanishad becomes as immaculate as Agni. He becomes as pare as Brahma. He becomes as pure as Vāyu. He becomes like one who has bathed in all the holy waters. He becomes like one who has studied all the Vedas. He becomes like one that has undergone all vedic observances. He obtains the fruit of the recitation of Itihāsas,14 Purānas and Rudramantras a lakh of times. He becomes like one that has pronounced Pranava (Om) ten thousand times. He purifies his ancestors ten degrees removed and his descendants ten degrees removed. He becomes purified of all those that sit with him for dinner. He becomes a great personage. He becomes purified from the sins of the murder of a Brahman, the drinking of alcohol, theft of gold, and sexual cohabitation with Guru’s wife, and from the sins of associating with those that commit such sins.

“Like the eye pervading the ākaś (seeing without effort everything above), a wise man sees (always) the supreme Seat of Vishnu. The Brāhmanas who have always their spiritual eyes wide open praise and illuminate in diverse ways the supreme Seat of Vishnu. Om: This Upanishad is truth.”


1. This Upanishad is so called after the questioner.

2. Rajas, Sattva and Tamas colours.

3. Āvarana Śakti literally means the veiling or contracting power. This is it that produces egoism. It may be called the centripetal force.

4. Vikshepa Ṣakti (lit.,) is the expanding power. It may be called the centrifugal force.

5. The account given here though differing from that in other books may be justified.

6. They are sound, touch, form, taste, and odour.

7. The fifth aspect of antaḥkarana is made to be itself, having the function of anusandhāna or inquiry, though others call it otherwise.

8. Navel is the seat of chitta.

9. It is said that in samādhi astral nectar flows from the head down which the Yogins are said to drink and which gives them infinite bliss.

10. Humility and other virtues twenty in number are described in Bhagavad-Gitā, Chapter XIII.

11. There are four classes of Brahma Jñānīs or initiates of whom this is one.

12. That portion of past karma which is being enjoyed in this life.

13. The yearly ceremonies in honour of the dead.

14. Itihāsas are the Rāmāyana and the Mahābhārata.