Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad

Sacred Philosophical Hindu Literature

"The Self is to be described as not this, not that. It is incomprehensible, for it cannot be comprehended."

"Verily, not for love of the husband is a husband dear, but for love of the Soul a husband is dear."

"The soul is not this, it is not that. It is unseizable, for it is not seized. It is indestructible, for it is not destroyed. It is unattached, for it does not attach itself. It is unbound. It does not tremble. It is not injured."

"All who worship ignorance enter into blind darkness; those who delight in knowledge enter, as it were, into greater darkness."

"As a goldsmith, taking a piece of gold, turns it into another, newer, and more beautiful shape, even so does the Self after throwing away this body and dispelled its ignorance, making unto himself another, newer and more beautiful shape like that of the gods."

"When one goes to sleep, he takes along the material of this all-containing world, himself tears it apart, himself builds it up, and dreams by his own brightness, by his own light. Then this person becomes self-illuminated. There are no chariots there, no spans, no roads. But he projects from himself chariots, spans, roads… for he is a creator."

"A person is made of desires only. As is his desire, such is his resolve; as is his resolve, such the action he performs; what action (karma) he performs, that he procures for himself."

"As a tree of the forest, just so, surely, is man. His hairs are leaves, his skin the outer bark. From his skin blood, sap from the bark flows forth. From him when pierced there comes forth a stream, as from the tree when struck. His pieces of flesh are under-layers of wood. The fibre is muscle-like, strong. The bones are the wood within. The marrow is made resembling pith. A tree, when it is felled, grows up from the root, more new again; a mortal, when cut down by death? from what root does he grow up? Say not ?from semen,? for that is produced from the living, as the tree, forsooth, springing from seed, clearly arises without having died. If with its roots they should pull up the tree, it would not come into being again. A mortal, when cut down by death? from what root does he grow up? When born, indeed, he is not born [again]. Who would again beget him? Brahma is knowledge, is bliss, the final goal of the giver of offerings, of him, too, who stands still and knows it."

"As a unity only is It to be looked upon? this indemonstrable, enduring Being."

"Brih ? ?tman is free from evil or sin, free from impurity, blameless, spotless? In the beginning this world was Soul (?tman) alone in the form of a Person (puru?a)? Since before (p?rva) all this world he burned up (ûu?) all evils, therefore he is a person."

"As a man when in the embrace of a beloved wife knows nothing within or without, so this person when in the embrace of the intelligent Soul knows nothing within or without. Verily, that is his [true] form? There a father becomes not a father; a mother, not a mother; the worlds, not the worlds; the gods, not the gods; the Vedas, not the Vedas; a thief, not a thief... He is not followed by good, he is not followed by evil, for then he has passed beyond all sorrows of the heart"

"By knowing Him only, a wise Brahman should get for himself intelligence? Verily, with the seeing of, with the hearkening to, with the thinking of, and with the understanding standing of the Soul, this world-all is known."

"From the unreal (asat) lead me to the real (sat)! From darkness lead me to light! From death lead me to immortality!?"

"From the unreal lead me to the real. From darkness lead me to light. From death lead me to immortality."

"By the mind alone is It to be perceived. There is on earth no diversity. He gets death after death, who perceives here seeming diversity. As a unity only is It to be looked upon?this indemonstrable, enduring Being, spotless, beyond space, the unborn Soul, great, enduring. By knowing Him only, a wise Brahman should get for himself intelligence; He should not meditate upon many words, for that is a weariness of speech."

"He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not see.? ?He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not smell.? ?He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not taste.? ?He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not speak.? ?He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not hear.? ?He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not think.? ?He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not touch.? ?He is becoming one,? they say; ?he does not know.? The point of his heart becomes lighted up. By that light the self departs, either by the eye, or by the head, or by other bodily parts. After him, as he goes out, the life (pr??a) goes out. After the life, as it goes out, all the breaths (pr??a) go out. He becomes one with intelligence. What has intelligence departs with him. His knowledge and his works and his former intelligence [i.e. instinct] lay hold of him."

"He is the unseen Seer, the unheard Hearer, the unthought Thinker, the ununderstood Understander."

"He was afraid. Therefore one who is alone is afraid. This one then thought to himself: ?Since there is nothing else than myself, of what am I afraid?? Thereupon, verily, his fear departed, for of what should he have been afraid? Assuredly it is from a second that fear arises."

"He who has found and has awakened to the Soul (Self)? The world is his; indeed, he is the world itself."

"He who breathes in with your breathing in is the Soul (?tman) of yours which is in all things. He who breathes out with your breathing out is the Soul of yours which is in all things. He who breathes about with your breathing about is the Soul of yours which is in all things. He who breathes up with your breathing up is the Soul of yours which is in all things."

"Him [who knows this] these two do not overcome?neither the thought ?Hence I did wrong,? nor the thought ?Hence I did right.? Verily he overcomes them both. What he has done and what he has not done do not affect him."

"here is on earth no diversity. He gets death after death, Who perceives here seeming diversity. As a unity only is It to be looked upon?This indemonstrable, enduring Being."

"If a person knew the Soul with the thought ?I am He!? with what desire, for love of what would he cling unto the body?"

"If one perceives Him as the Soul, as God (deva), clearly, as the Lord of what has been and of what is to be?one does not shrink away from Him. That before which the year re-evolves with its days?that the gods revere as the light of lights, as life immortal. On whom the five peoples and space are established?Him alone I, the knowing, I, the immortal, believe to be the Soul, the immortal Brahma."

"I am this world-all,? that is his highest world. This, verily, is that form of his which is beyond desires, free from evil, without fear."

"In the beginning nothing whatsoever was here. This [world] was covered over with death, with hunger?for hunger is death. Then he made up his mind (manas): ?Would that I had a self!? So he went on (acarat) praising (arcan). From him, while he was praising, water was produced. ?Verily, while I was praising, I had pleasure (ka)!? thought he. This, indeed, is the arka-nature of what pertains to brightness (arkya). Verily, there is pleasure for him who knows thus that arka-nature of what pertains to brightness."

"In the beginning this world was just the Self (?tman), one only. He wished: ?Would that I had a wife; then I would procreate. Would that I had wealth; then I would offer sacrifice.? So great, indeed, is desire. Not even if one desired, would he get more than that. Therefore even today when one is lonely one wishes: ?Would that I had a wife, then I would procreate. Would that I had wealth, then I would offer sacrifice.? So far as he does not obtain any one of these, he thinks that he is, assuredly, incomplete. Now his completeness is as follows: his mind truly is his self (?tman); his voice is his wife; his breath is his offspring; his eye is his worldly wealth, for with his eye he finds; his ear is his heavenly [wealth], for with his ear he hears it; his body (?tman), indeed, is his work, for with his body he performs work. The sacrifice is fivefold. The sacrificial animal is fivefold. A person is fivefold. This whole world, whatever there is, is fivefold. He obtains this whole world who knows this."

"In the beginning this world was Soul (?tman) alone in the form of a Person. Looking around, he saw nothing else than himself. He said first: ?I am.? Thence arose the name ?I.? Therefore even today, when one is addressed, he says first just ?It is I? and then speaks whatever name he has. Since before (p?rva) all this world he burned up (ûu?) all evils, therefore he is a person (pur-u?-a). He who knows this, verily, burns up him who desires to be ahead of him."

"In the state of sleep going aloft and alow, a god, he makes many forms for himself."

"In this state of sleep, having traveled around and seen good and bad, he hastens again, according to the entrance and place of origin, back to the state of waking. Whatever he sees there [i.e. in dreaming sleep], he is not followed by it, for this person is without attachments."

"Into blind darkness enter they that worship ignorance; into darkness greater than that, as it were, they that delight in knowledge. Joyless are those worlds called, covered with blind darkness. To them after death go those people that have not knowledge, that are not awakened. If a person knew the Soul (?tman), with the thought ?I am he!? wWith what desire, for love of what would he cling unto the body?"

"Now, there are of a truth three worlds?the world of men, the world of the fathers, and the world of the gods. This world of men is to be obtained by a son only, by no other means; the world of the fathers, by sacrifice; the world of the gods, by knowledge. The world of the gods is verily the best of worlds. Therefore they praise knowledge."

"Life, verily, is the Immortal. Name and form are the real. By them that Life is veiled."

"Now whoever departs from this world [i.e. the world of the ?tman] without having recognized it as his own, to him it is of no service, because it is unknown, as the unrecited Vedas or any other undone deed [do not help a man]. Verily, even if one performs a great and holy work, but without knowing this, that work of his merely perishes in the end. One should worship the Self alone as his [true] world. The work of him who worships the Self alone as his world does not perish, for out of that very Self he creates whatsoever he desires."

"Now this Self, verily, is a world of all created things. In so far as a man makes offerings and sacrifices, he becomes the world of the gods. In so far as he learns [the Vedas], he becomes the world of the seers (??i). In so far as he offers libations to the fathers and desires offspring, he becomes the world of the fathers. In so far as he gives lodging and food to men, he becomes the world of men. In so far as he finds grass and water for animals, he becomes the world of animals. In so far as beasts and birds, even to the ants, find a living in his houses, he becomes their world. Verily, as one would desire security for his own world, so all creatures wish security for him who has this knowledge. This fact, verily, is known when it is thought out."

"It is not coarse, not fine, not short, not long, not glowing, not adhesive, without shadow and without darkness, without air and without space, without stickiness [intangible], odorless, tasteless, without eye, without ear, without voice, without mind, without energy, without breath, without mouth, [without personal or family name, unageing, undying, without fear, immortal, stainless, not uncovered, not covered], without measure, without inside and without outside. It consumes nothing soever. No one soever consumes it."

"Obtaining the end of his action, whatever he does in this world, he comes again from that world to this world of action."

"Sight is truthfulness, for when they say to a man who sees with his eyes ?Have you seen?? and he says ?I have seen,? that is the truth."

"One should be familiar with it. By knowing it, one is not stained by evil action."

"So whoever worships another divinity [than his Self], thinking ?He is one and I another,? he knows not. He is like a sacrificial animal for the gods. Verily, indeed, as many animals would be of service to a man, even so each single person is of service to the gods. If even one animal is taken away, it is not pleasant. What, then, if many? Therefore it is not pleasing to those [gods] that men should know this [i.e., that the gods are only a phase of Brahma and that an individual man may himself become Brahma by knowing himself to be such]."

"The ancient narrow path that stretches far away has been touched by me, has been found by me. By it the wise, the knowers of Brahma, go up hence to the heavenly world, released. On it, they say, is white and blue and yellow and green and red. That was the path by Brahma found; by it goes the knower of Brahma, the doer of right (pu?ya-k?t), and every shining one."

"That self is dearer than a son, is dearer than wealth, is dearer than all else, since this self is nearer."

"Striking down in sleep what is bodily, sleepless he looks down upon the sleeping [senses]. Having taken to himself light, there returns to his place the golden person, the one spirit (ha?sa)."

"There is nothing by which he is not covered, nothing by which he is not hid."

"There is a cup with its mouth below and its bottom up. In it is placed every form of glory. On its rim sit seven seers. Voice as an eighth is united with prayer."

"This Brahma is without an earlier and without a later, without an inside and without an outside"

"The plunderer of gold, the liquor-drinker, the invader of a teacher?s bed, the Brahman-killer?these four sink downward in the scale, and, fifth, he who consorts with them."

"This eternal greatness of a Brahman is not increased by deeds (karma), nor diminished. One should be familiar with it. By knowing it, one is not stained by evil action."

"This Soul (?tman) is honey for all things, and all things are honey for this Soul. This shining, immortal Person who is in this Soul, and, with reference to oneself, this shining. [104] immortal Person who exists as Soul?he is just this Soul, this Immortal, this Brahma, this All. Verily, this Soul is the overlord of all things, the king of all things. As all the spokes are held together in the hub and felly of a wheel, just so in this Soul all things, all gods, all worlds, all breathing things, all selves are held together."

"This earth is honey for all creatures, and all creatures are honey for this earth. This shining, immortal Person who is in this earth, and, with reference to oneself, this shining, immortal Person who is in the body?he, indeed, is just this Soul (?tman), this Immortal, this Brahma, this All. These waters are honey for all things, and all things are honey for these waters. This shining, immortal Person who is in these waters, and, with reference to oneself, this shining, immortal Person who is made of semen?he is just this Soul, this Immortal, this Brahma, this All."