Light from The Upanishads

The Upanishads, one of Hinduism’s most sacred texts, reaches through the mists of time with its gleanings about the nature of existence, the Divine Within, and the Oneness of all. Here are some glimpses from this treasure trove of ancient wisdom.

From The Katha Upanishad

1.  A mortal ripens like corn and like corn he springs up again.  (Katha Upanishad, Part I, 1:6)

2.  Everything shines after Him. By His light all this is lighted.  (Katha Upanishad Part II, 2:15)

3.  Having realized the vast, all-pervading Atman, the calm soul does not grieve.  (Katha Upanishad Part II, 1:4)

4.  The wise man beholds all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.  (Isa Upanishad 6)

5.  It is He who pervades all—omniscient, transcendent and uncreated.  (Isa Upanishad 8)

From The Mandukya Upanishad

6.  All that is past, present and future is, indeed, AUM. And whatever else there is, beyond the threefold division of time—that also is truly AUM.  (Mandukya Upanishad 1:1)

7.  He is the source of all; for from him all beings originate and in him they finally disappear. (Mandukya Upanishad 1:6)

From The Svetasvatara Upanishad

8.  This Brahman is the immutable foundation; It is imperishable. The sages, having realized Brahman to be the essence of phenomena, become devoted to Him. Completely merged in Brahman, they attain freedom from rebirth. (Svetasvatara Upanishad 1:6-7)

9.  That adorable God dwelling in the heart … is of many forms and is the true source of all things.  (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:5)

10.  He shining, everything shines after Him. By his light all this is lighted.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:14)

From The Mundaka Upanishad

11.  He is, indeed, the inner Self of all beings.  (Mundaka Upanishad, Second Mundaka,1:2 & 4)

12.  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.  (Mundaka Upanishad, First Mundaka, 1:7)

13.  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.  (Mundaka Upanishad, Second Mundaka, 1:1)

14.  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.”  (Mundaka Upanishad, Second Mundaka,1:10)

15.  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 centered everything that moves, breathes, and blinks.  (Mundaka Upanishad,  Second Mundaka 2:1)

16.  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 Imperishable.  (Mundaka Upanishad, Second Mundaka 2:3)

17. 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… It is pure; It is the Light of lights; It is That which they know who know the Self.” (Mundaka Upanishad, Second Mundaka 2:6-9)

18.  Brahman alone pervades everything above and below; this universe is that Supreme Brahman alone.” (Mundaka Upanishad, Second Mundaka 2:11)

19.  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 dwells in the cave of the heart. (Mundaka Upanishad, Third Mundaka 1:7)

20.  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. (Mundaka Upanishad, Third Mundaka 2:8

From the Kena Upanishad

21.  Having realized the Self in every being, the wise relinquish the world and become immortal.  (Kena Upanishad 2:5) Brihadaranyaka 

From the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

22.  As a lump of salt dropped into water becomes dissolved in water and cannot be taken out again, but wherever we taste the water it tastes salt, even so, my dear, this great, endless, infinite Reality is Pure Intelligence alone.  (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Part Two, 4:7-8

23.  Now when my body falls may my breath return to the all-pervading Prana! May this body, reduced to ashes, return to the earth! (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Part Two, 15:1)

From The Isa Upanishad

24.  It moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near. It is inside all this and It is outside all this. (Isa Upanishad 5)

25.  The wise man beholds all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.  (Isa Upanishad 6)

26.  Now may my breath return to the all-pervading, immortal Prana!  (Isa Upanishad 17)

27.  Om. That is full; this is full.
This fullness has been projected from that fullness.
When this fullness merges in that fullness,
all that remains is fullness.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!
(Isa Upanishad, Invocation)

From The Taititiriya Upanishad

28.  Om. Peace! Peace! Peace! That from which these beings are born, That by which, when born, they live, That into which they enter, they merge—That is Brahman.  (Taititiriya Upanishad, Part Three, Chapter 1)

29  He sits, singing the chant of the non-duality of Brahman: ‘Ah! Ah! Ah!’  (Taititiriya Upanishad, Part Three, Chapter 10:5)

30. May the light of Brahman shine alike through both of us.  (Taititiriya Upanishad, Part One, 3:1) 


These selections are drawn from The Upanishads, Vol. I-IV, a four-volume set translated by the scholar-mystic Swami Nikhilananda (Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1959 / 1987).

Another recommended translation is The Upanishads, tr. Valerie J. Roebuck (New York and London, Penguin Books, 2003).


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