Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Katha Upanishad

Sacred Philosophical Hindu Literature, loosely translated as "Secret of Death"

"If the slayer thinks that he kills, and if the slain thinks that he dies, neither knows the ways of truth. The Eternal in man cannot kill: the Eternal in man cannot die."

"Beyond the senses are the objects; beyond the object is the mind. Beyond the mind is the intellect; beyond the intellect is the unmanifest. This is the end. There is nothing beyond."

"In the pursuit of a Truth, a person should discriminate between good and pleasant. He who chooses good attains happiness. He who prefers the pleasant, misses the goal."

"Know thou the soul as riding in a chariot, the body as the chariot. Know thou the intellect as the chariot-driver, and the mind as the reins. The senses, they say, are the horses; the objects of sense, what they range over, the self combined with senses and mind, wise men call `the enjoyer.’ He who has not understanding, whose mind is not constantly held firm – his senses are uncontrolled, like the vicious horses of a chariot-driver."

"There is one Ruler, the Spirit that is in all things, who transforms his own form into many. Only the wise who see him in their souls attain the joy eternal."

"Who sees variety and not the unity wanders on from death to death."

"The Self, the immortal Spirit, resides in the heart of all beings, who makes himself free from selfish desires and the craving of the senses. He beholds the greatness of the Spirit through the tranquility of the mind."

"Above the senses is the mind. Above the mind is the intellect. Above the intellect is the ego. Above the ego is the unmanifested seed, the Primal Cause. And verily beyond the unmanifested seed is the self, the unconditioned Knowing whom one attains to freedom and achieves immortality."

"Soundless, formless, intangible, undying, tasteless, orderless, eternal, immutable, beyond Nature, is the Self."

"Know one, know all."

"What is here is also there; what is there, is also here. Who sees multiplicity but not the one indivisible Self must wander on and on from death to death."

"There is One who is the eternal Reality among non-eternal objects, the one truly conscious Entity among conscious objects and who, though non-dual, fulfils the desires of many. Eternal peace belongs to the wise, who perceive Him within themselves-not toothers. "

"Knowing that great and all-pervading Self by which one sees (the objects) both in the sleep and the waking states, the intelligent man grieves no more."

"There is a path of joy and there is the path of pleasure. Pondering on them, the wise (one) chooses the of joy; the fool takes the path of pleasure."

"When all longings that are in the heart vanish, then a mortal becomes immortal and attains Brahman (infinite consciousness) here."

"A sharpened edge of a razor, hard to traverse, a difficult path is this?poets declare!"

"An intelligent man should suppress his speech and his mind. The latter he should suppress in the Understanding-Self (j¤?na ?tman). The understanding he should suppress in the Great Self [= buddhi, intellect]. That he should suppress in the Tranquil Self (??nta ?tman)."

"As the one fire has entered the world and becomes corresponding in form to every form, so the one Inner Soul (?tman) of all things is corresponding in form to every form, and yet is outside. As the one wind has entered the world and becomes corresponding in form to every form, so the one Inner Soul of all things is corresponding in form to every form, and yet is outside. As the sun, the eye of the whole world, is not sullied by the external faults of the eyes, so the one Inner Soul of all things is not sullied by the evil in the world, being external to it."

"Apart from the right and apart from the unright, apart from both what has been done and what has not been done here, apart from what has been and what is to be."

"As the one wind has entered the world and becomes corresponding in form to every form, so the one Inner Soul of all things is corresponding in form to every form, and yet is outside."

"As water rained upon rough ground runs to waste among the hills, so he who sees qualities (dharma) separately, runs to waste after them. As pure water poured forth into pure becomes the very same, so becomes the soul (?tman), O Gautama, of the seer (muni) who has understanding."

"As the sun, the eye of the whole world, is not sullied by the external faults of the eyes, so the one Inner Soul of all things is not sullied by the evil in the world, being external to it."

"By recognizing as the great pervading Soul (?tman) that whereby one perceives both the sleeping state and the waking state, the wise man sorrows not."

"Come! I will declare this to you: the hidden, eternal Brahma; and how, after it reaches death, the soul (?tman) fares, O Gautama! Some go into a womb for the embodiment of a corporeal being. Others go into a stationary thing according to their deeds (karman), according to their knowledge."

"f the slayer think to slay, if the slain think himself slain, both these understand not. This one slays not, nor is slain."

"He, however, who has not understanding, who is unmindful and ever impure, reaches not the goal, but goes on to transmigration (sa?s?ra). He, however, who has understanding, who is mindful and ever pure, reaches the goal from which he is born no more. He, however, who has the understanding of a chariot-driver, a man who reins in his mind?he reaches the end of his journey,that highest place of Vish?u."

"He who is awake in those that sleep, the Person who fashions desire after desire?that indeed is the Pure. That is Brahma. That indeed is called the Immortal. On it all the worlds do rest; and no one soever goes beyond it."

"He who has not understanding, who is unmindful and ever impure, reaches not the goal, but goes on to transmigration. He, however, who has understanding, who is mindful and ever pure, reaches the goal from which he is born no more."

"Him who is the bodiless among bodies, stable among the unstable, the great, all-pervading Soul (?tman)?On recognizing Him, the wise man sorrows not."

"In the heavenly world is no fear whatsoever. Not there art thou. Not from old age does one fear. Over both having crossed?hunger, and thirst too?Gone beyond sorrow, one rejoices in the heaven-world. Thyself, O Death, understandest the heavenly fire. Declare it to me who have faith (?raddadh?na). Heaven-world people partake of immortality. This I choose with boon the second."

"Higher than the senses are the objects of sense. Higher than the objects of sense is the mind (manas); and higher than the mind is the intellect (buddhi). Higher than the intellect is the Great Self (?tman). Higher than the Great is the Unmanifest (avyakta). Higher than the Unmanifest is the Person. Higher than the Person there is nothing at all. That is the goal. That is the highest course."

"Its root is above, its branches below?this eternal fig-tree! That (root) indeed is the Pure. That is Brahma. That indeed is called the Immortal. On it all the worlds do rest, and no one soever goes beyond it"

"If one has been able to perceive [Him] here on earth before the dissolution of the body, according to that [knowledge] he becomes fitted for embodiment in the world-creations. As in a mirror, so is it seen in the body (?tman); as in a dream, so in the world of the fathers; as if in water, so in the world of the Gandharvas (genii); as if in light and shade, so in the world of Brahma."

"Know thou the soul (?tman, self) as riding in a chariot, the body as the chariot. Know thou the intellect (buddhi) as the chariot-driver, and the mind (manas) as the reins. The senses (indriya), they say, are the horses; the objects of sense, what they range over. The self combined with senses and mind wise men call ?the enjoyer? (bhokt?). He who has not understanding (a-vij¤?na), whose mind is not constantly held firm?His senses are uncontrolled, like the vicious horses of a chariot-driver. 6. He, however, who has understanding, whose mind is constantly held firm?his senses are under control, like the good horses of a chariot-driver."

"Not by reasoning (tarka) is this thought (mati) to be attained. Proclaimed by another, indeed, it is for easy understanding, dearest friend (pre??ha)!?This which thou hast attained! Ah, thou art of true steadfastness!"

"Not by speech, not by mind, not by sight can He be apprehended. How can He be comprehended otherwise than by one?s saying ?He is?? He can indeed be comprehended by the thought ?He is? (asti) and by [admitting] the real nature of both [his comprehensibility and his incomprehensibility]. When he has been comprehended by the thought ?He is? His real nature manifests itself."

"Not by speech, not by mind, not by sight can He be apprehended. How can He be comprehended? Otherwise than by one?s saying ?He is!??"

"More minute than the minute, greater than the great is the Soul (?tman) that is set in the heart of a creature here. One who is without the active will (a-kratu) beholds Him, and becomes freed from sorrow?When through the grace (pras?da)1 of the Creator (dh?t?) he beholds the greatness of the Soul (?tman)."

"Not he who has not ceased from bad conduct . . . can obtain Him by intelligence."

"Of the Unborn, the Un-crooked-minded one, one sorrows not. But when liberated [from the body], he is liberated indeed."

"The passing-on is not clear to him who is childish, heedless, deluded with the delusion of wealth. Thinking ?This is the world! There is no other!??Again and again he comes under my control."

"Some go into a womb for the embodiment of a corporeal being. Others go into a stationary thing according to their deeds, according to their knowledge."

"The Inner Soul (antar?tman) of all things, the One Controller, Who makes his one form manifold?the wise who perceive Him as standing in oneself, they, and no others, have eternal happiness! Him who is the constant among the inconstant, the intelligent among intelligences, the One among many, who grants desires?The wise who perceive Him as standing in oneself, they, and no others, have eternal peace! ?This is it!??thus they recognize the highest, indescribable happiness. How, now, shall I understand ?this?? Does it shine [of itself] or does it shine in reflection?"

"The Self-existent (svayambh?) pierced the openings [of the senses] outward; therefore one looks outward, not within himself (antar?tman). A certain wise man, while seeking immortality, introspectively beheld the Soul (?tman) face to face. The childish go after outward pleasures; they walk into the net of widespread death. But the wise, knowing immortality, seek not the stable among things which are unstable here."

"The Naciketas tale, Death?s immemorial teaching?by declaring and hearing this, a wise man is magnified in the Brahma-world. If one recites this supreme secret in an assembly of Brahmans, or at a time of the ceremony for the dead, devoutly?that makes for immortality! ?That makes for immortality!"

"The separate nature of the senses, and that their arising and setting is of things that come into being apart [from himself], the wise man recognizes, and sorrows not. Higher than the senses (indriya) is the mind (manas); above the mind is the true being (sattva). Over the true being is the Great Self [i.e., buddhi, intellect]; above the Great is the Unmanifest (avyakta). Higher than the Unmanifest, however, is the Person (Purusha), all-pervading and without any mark (a-li?ga) whatever. Knowing which, a man is liberated aAnd goes to immortality. His form is not to be beheld. No one soever sees Him with the eye. He is framed by the heart, by the thought, by the mind. They who know That become immortal."

"The word which all the Vedas rehearse, and which all austerities proclaim, desiring which men live the life of religious studentship (brahmacarya)?That word to thee I briefly declare. That is Om! That syllable, truly, indeed, is Brahma! That syllable indeed is the supreme! Knowing that syllable, truly, indeed, whatever one desires is his! That is the best support. That is the supreme support. Knowing that support, one becomes happy in the Brahma-world."

"The wise one [i.e., the soul, the ?tman, the self] is not born, nor dies. This one has not come from anywhere, has not become anyone. Unborn, constant, eternal, primeval, this one is not slain when the body is slain. If the slayer think to slay, if the slain think himself slain, both these understand not, this one slays not, nor is slain."

"There are a hundred and one arteries of the heart. One of these passes up to the crown of the head. Going up by it, one goes to immortality. The others are for departing in various directions. A Person of the measure of a thumb is the inner soul (antar?tman), ever seated in the heart of creatures. Him one should draw out from one?s own body like an arrow-shaft out from a reed, with firmness. Him one should know as the Pure, the Immortal?Yea, Him one should know as the Pure, the Immortal."

"The sun shines not there, nor the moon and stars, these lightnings shine not, much less this (earthly) fire! After Him, as He shines, doth everything shine, this whole world is illumined with His light."