Hamro dharma

Upanishad 2


Sacred Books of the East


By various Oriental scholars

and edited by

F. Max Müller

Vol. I

The Upanishads

Translated by F. Max Müller

Khândogya-upanishad lxxxvi
Talavakâra-upanishad lxxxix
Aitareya-âranyaka xci
Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad xcviii
gasaneyi-samhitâ-upanishad c
Katha-upanishad xxi
Mundaka-upanishad xxvi
Taittirîyaka-upanishad xxvii
Brihadâranyaka-upanishad xxx
Svetâsvatara-upanishad xxxi
Praa-upanishad xlii
Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad xliii





THE ancient Vedic literature, the foundation of the whole literature of India, which has been handed down in that country in an unbroken succession from the earliest times within the recollection of man to the present day, became known for the first time beyond the frontiers of India through the Upanishads. The Upanishads were translated from Sanskrit into Persian by, or, it may be, for Dârâ Shukoh, the eldest son of Shâh Jehân, an enlightened prince, who openly professed the liberal religious tenets of the great Emperor Akbar, and even wrote a book intended to reconcile the religious doctrines of Hindus and Mohammedans. He seems first to have heard of the Upanishads during his stay in Kashmir in 1640. He afterwards invited several Pandits from Benares to Delhi, who were to assist him in the work of translation. The translation was finished in 1657. Three years after the accomplishment of this work, in 1659, the prince was put to death by his brother Aurangzib 1, in reality, no doubt, because he was the eldest son and legitimate successor of Shâh Jehân, but under the pretext that he was an infidel, and dangerous to the established religion of the empire.

When the Upanishads had once been translated from Sanskrit into Persian, at that time the most widely read language of the East and understood likewise by many European scholars, they became generally accessible to all who took an interest in the religious literature of India. It is true that under Akbar’s reign (1556-1586) similar translations had been prepared 1, but neither those nor the translations of Dârâ Shukoh attracted the attention of European scholars till the year 1775. In that year Anquetil Duperron, the famous traveller and discoverer of the Zend-avesta, received one MS. of the Persian translation of the Upanishads, sent to him by M. Gentil, the French resident at the court of Shuja ud daula, and brought to France by M. Bernier. After receiving another MS., Anquetil Duperron collated the two, and translated the Persian translation 2 into French (not published), and into Latin. That Latin translation was published in 1801 and 1802, under the title of ‘Oupnek’hat, id est, Secretum tegendum: opus ipsa in India rarissimum, continens antiquam et arcanam, seu theologicam et philosophicam doctrinam, e quatuor sacris Indorum libris Rak baid, Djedjer baid, Sam baid, Athrban baid excerptam; ad verbum, e Persico idiomate, Samkreticis vocabulis intermixto, in Latinum conversum: Dissertationibus et Annotationibus difficiliora explanantibus, illustratum: studio et opera Anquetil Duperron, Indicopleustæ. Argentorati, typis et impensis fratrum Levrault, vol. i, 1801; vol. ii, 1802 3.’

This translation, though it attracted considerable interest among scholars, was written in so utterly unintelligible a style, that it required the lynxlike perspicacity of an intrepid philosopher, such as Schopenhauer, to discover a thread through such a labyrinth. Schopenhauer, however, not only found and followed such a thread, but he had the courage to proclaim to an incredulous age the vast treasures of thought which were lying buried beneath that fearful jargon.

As Anquetil Duperron’s volumes have become scarce, I shall here give a short specimen of his translation, which corresponds to the first sentences of my translation of the Khândogya-upanishad (p. 1):–‘Oum hoc verbum (esse) adkit ut sciveris, sic τὸ maschghouli fac (de co meditare), quod ipsum hoc verbum aodkit est; propter illud quod hoc (verbum) oum, in Sam Beid, cum voce altâ, cum harmoniâ pronunciatum fiat.

‘Adkiteh porro cremor (optimum, selectissimum) est: quemadmodum ex (præ) omni quieto (non moto), et moto, pulvis (terra) cremor (optimum) est; et e (præ) terra aqua cremor est; et ex aqua, comedendum (victus) cremor est; (et) e comedendo, comedens cremor est; et e comedente, loquela (id quod dicitur) cremor est; et e loquela, aïet τοῦ Beid, et ex aïet, τὸ siam, id est, cum harmonia (pronunciatum); et e Sam, τὸ adkit, cremor est; id est, oum, voce alta, cum harmonia pronunciare, aokit, cremor cremorum (optimum optimorum) est. Major, ex (præ) adkit, cremor alter non est.’

Schopenhauer not only read this translation carefully, but he makes no secret of it, that his own philosophy is powerfully impregnated by the fundamental doctrines of the Upanishads. He dwells on it again and again, and it seems both fair to Schopenhauer’s memory and highly important for a true appreciation of the philosophical value of the Upanishads, to put together what that vigorous thinker has written on those ancient rhapsodies of truth.

In his ‘Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,’ he writes, in the preface to the first edition, p. xiii:

‘If the reader has also received the benefit of the Vedas, the access to which by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century (1818) may claim before all previous centuries, (for I anticipate that the influence of Sanskrit literature will not be less profound than the revival of Greek in the fourteenth century,)–if then the reader, I say, has received his initiation in primeval Indian wisdom, and received it with an open heart, he will be prepared in the very best way for hearing what I have to tell him. It will not sound to him strange, as to many others, much less disagreeable; for I might, if it did not sound conceited, contend that every one of the detached statements which constitute the Upanishads, may be deduced as a necessary result from the fundamental thoughts which I have to enunciate, though those deductions themselves are by no means to be found there.’

And again 1:

‘If I consider how difficult it is, even with the assistance of the best and carefully educated teachers, and with all the excellent philological appliances collected in the course of this century, to arrive at a really correct, accurate, and living understanding of Greek and Roman authors, whose language was after all the language of our own predecessors in Europe, and the mother of our own, while Sanskrit, on the contrary, was spoken thousands of years ago in distant India, and can be learnt only with appliances which are as yet very imperfect;–if I add to this the impression which the translations of Sanskrit works by European scholars, with very few exceptions, produce on my mind, I cannot resist a certain suspicion that our Sanskrit scholars do not understand their texts much better than the higher class of schoolboys their Greek. Of course, as they are not boys, but men of knowledge and understanding, they put together, out of what they do understand, something like what the general meaning may have been, but much probably creeps in ex ingenio. It is still worse with the Chinese of our European Sinologues.

‘If then I consider, on the other hand, that Sultan Mohammed Dârâ Shukoh, the brother of Aurangzib, was born and bred in India, was a learned, thoughtful, and enquiring man, and therefore probably understood his Sanskrit about as well as we our Latin, that moreover he was assisted by a number of the most learned Pandits, all this together gives me at once a very high opinion of his translation of the Vedic Upanishads into Persian. If, besides this, I see with what profound and quite appropriate reverence Anquetil Duperron has treated that Persian translation, rendering it in Latin word by word, retaining, in spite of Latin grammar, the Persian syntax, and all the Sanskrit words which the Sultan himself had left untranslated, though explaining them in a glossary, I feel the most perfect confidence in reading that translation, and that confidence soon receives its most perfect justification. For how entirely does the Oupnekhat breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas! How is every one who by a diligent study of its Persian Latin has become familiar with that incomparable book, stirred by that spirit to the very depth of his soul! How does every line display its firm, definite, and throughout harmonious meaning! From every sentence deep, original, and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit. Indian air surrounds us, and original thoughts of kindred spirits. And oh, how thoroughly is the mind here washed clean of all early engrafted Jewish superstitions, and of all philosophy that cringes before those superstitions! In the whole world there is no study, except that of the originals, so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Oupnekhat. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death!

‘Though 1 I feel the highest regard for the religious and philosophical works of Sanskrit literature, I have not been able to derive much pleasure from their poetical compositions. Nay, they seem to me sometimes as tasteless and monstrous as the sculpture of India.

‘In 2 most of the pagan philosophical writers of the first Christian centuries we see the Jewish theism, which, as Christianity, was soon to become the faith of the people, shining through, much as at present we may perceive shining through in the writings of the learned, the native pantheism of India, which is destined sooner or later to become the faith of the people. Ex oriente lux.’

This may seem strong language, and, in some respects, too strong. But I thought it right to quote it here, because, whatever may be urged against Schopenhauer, he was a thoroughly honest thinker and honest speaker, and no one would suspect him of any predilection for what has been so readily called Indian mysticism. That Schelling and his school should use rapturous language about the Upanishads, might carry little weight with that large class of philosophers by whom everything beyond the clouds of their own horizon is labelled mysticism. But that Schopenhauer should have spoken of the Upanishads as ‘products of the highest wisdom’ (Ausgeburt der höchsten Weisheit) 1, that he should have placed the pantheism there taught high above the pantheism of Bruno, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Scotus Erigena, as brought to light again at Oxford in 1681 2, may perhaps secure a more considerate reception for these relics of ancient wisdom than anything that I could say in their favour.


Greater, however, than the influence exercised on the philosophical thought of modern Europe, has been the impulse which these same Upanishads have imparted to the religious life of modern India. In about the same year (1774 or 1775) when the first MS. of the Persian translation of the Upanishads was received by Anquetil Duperron, Rammohun Roy 3 was born in India, the reformer and reviver of the ancient religion of the Brahmans. A man who in his youth could write a book ‘Against the Idolatry of all Religions,’ and who afterwards expressed in so many exact words his ‘belief in the divine authority of Christ 4‘ was not likely to retain anything of the sacred literature of his own religion, unless he had perceived in it the same

p. lxiii

divine authority which he recognised in the teaching of Christ. He rejected the Purânas, he would not have been swayed in his convictions by the authority of the Laws of Manu, or even by the sacredness of the Vedas. He was above all that. But he discovered in the Upanishads and in the so-called Vedânta something different from all the rest, something that ought not to be thrown away, something that, if rightly understood, might supply the right native soil in which alone the seeds of true religion, aye, of true Christianity, might spring up again and prosper in India, as they had once sprung up and prospered from out the philosophies of Origen or Synesius. European scholars have often wondered that Rammohun Roy, in his defence of the Veda, should have put aside the Samhitâs and the Brâhmanas, and laid his finger on the Upanishads only, as the true kernel of the whole Veda. Historically, no doubt, he was wrong, for the Upanishads presuppose both the hymns and the liturgical books of the Veda. But as the ancient philosophers distinguished in the Veda between the Karma-kânda and the Gñâna-kânda, between works and knowledge; as they themselves pointed to the learning of the sacred hymns and the performance of sacrifices as a preparation only for that enlightenment which was reserved as the highest reward for the faithful performance of all previous duties 1, Rammohun Roy, like Buddha and other enlightened men before him, perceived that the time for insisting on all that previous discipline with its minute prescriptions and superstitious observances was gone, while the knowledge conveyed in the Upanishads or the Vedânta, enveloped though it may be in strange coverings, should henceforth form the foundation of a new religious life 2. He would tolerate nothing idolatrous, not even in his mother, poor woman, who after joining his most bitter opponents, confessed to her son, before she set out on her

p. lxiv

last pilgrimage to Juggernaut, where she died, that ‘he was right, but that she was a weak woman, and grown too old to give up the observances which were a comfort to her.’ It was not therefore from any regard of their antiquity or their sacred character that Rammohun Roy clung to the Upanishads, that he translated them into Bengali, Hindi, and English, and published them at his own expense. It was because he recognised in them seeds of eternal truth, and was bold enough to distinguish between what was essential in them and what was not,–a distinction, as he often remarked with great perplexity, which Christian teachers seemed either unable or unwilling to make 1.

The death of that really great and good man during his stay in England in 1833, was one of the severest blows that have fallen on the prospects of India. But his work has not been in vain. Like a tree whose first shoot has been killed by one winter frost, it has broken out again in a number of new and more vigorous shoots, for whatever the outward differences may be between the Âdi Brahmo Samâj of Debendranath Tagore, or the Brahmo Samâj of India of Keshub Chunder Sen, or the Sadharan Brahmo Samâj, the common root of them all is the work done, once for all, by Rammohun Roy. That work may have disappeared from sight for a time, and its present manifestations may seem to many observers who are too near, not very promising. But in one form or another, under one name or another, I feel convinced that work will live. ‘In India,’ Schopenhauer writes, ‘our religion will now and never strike root: the primitive wisdom of the human race will never be pushed aside there by the events of Galilee. On the contrary, Indian wisdom will flow back upon Europe, and produce a thorough change in our knowing and thinking.’ Here, again, the great philosopher seems to me to have allowed himself to be carried away too far by his enthusiasm for the less known. He is blind for the dark sides of the Upanishads, and he wilfully shuts his eyes against the bright rays of eternal truth in the Gospels, which even Rammohun Roy was quick enough to perceive behind the mists and clouds of tradition that gather so quickly round the sunrise of every religion.


If now we ask what has been thought of the Upanishads by Sanskrit scholars or by Oriental scholars in general, it must be confessed that hitherto they have not received at their hands that treatment which in the eyes of philosophers and theologians they seem so fully to deserve. When the first enthusiasm for such works as Sakuntalâ and Gîta-Govinda had somewhat subsided, and Sanskrit scholars had recognised that a truly scholarlike study of Indian literature must begin with the beginning, the exclusively historical interest prevailed to so large an extent that the hymns of the Veda, the Brâhmanas, and the Sûtras absorbed all interest, while the Upanishads were put aside for a time as of doubtful antiquity, and therefore of minor importance.

My real love for Sanskrit literature was first kindled by the Upanishads. It was in the year 1844, when attending Schelling’s lectures at Berlin, that my attention was drawn to those ancient theosophic treatises, and I still possess my collations of the Sanskrit MSS. which had then just arrived at Berlin, the Chambers collection, and my copies of commentaries, and commentaries on commentaries, which I made at that time. Some of my translations which I left with Schelling, I have never been able to recover, though to judge from others which I still possess, the loss of them is of small consequence. Soon after leaving Berlin, when continuing my Sanskrit studies at Paris under Burnouf, I put aside the Upanishads, convinced that for a true appreciation of them it was necessary to study, first of all, the earlier periods of Vedic literature, as represented by the hymns and the Brâhmanas of the Vedas.

In returning, after more than thirty years, to these favourite studies, I find that my interest in them, though it has changed in character, has by no means diminished.

p. lxvi

It is true, no doubt, that the stratum of literature which contains the Upanishads is later than the Samhitâs, and later than the Brâhmanas, but the first germs of Upanishad doctrines go back at least as far as the Mantra period, which provisionally has been fixed between 1000 and 800 B.C. Conceptions corresponding to the general teaching of the Upanishads occur in certain hymns of the Rig-veda-samhitâ, they must have existed therefore before that collection was finally closed. One hymn in the Samhitâ of the Rig-veda (I, 191) was designated by Kâtyâyana, the author of the Sarvânukramanikâ, as an Upanishad. Here, however, upanishad means rather a secret charm than a philosophical doctrine. Verses of the hymns have often been incorporated in the Upanishads, and among the Oupnekhats translated into Persian by Dârâ Shukoh we actually find the Purusha-sûkta, the 90th hymn of the tenth book of the Rig-veda 1, forming the greater portion of the Bark’heh Soukt. In the Samhitâ of the Yagur-veda, however, in the Vâgasaneyisâkhâ, we meet with a real Upanishad, the famous Îsâ or Îsâvâsya-upanishad, while the Sivasamkalpa, too, forms part of its thirty-fourth book 2. In the Brâhmanas several Upanishads occur, even in portions which are not classed as Âranyakas, as, for instance, the well-known Kena or Talavakâra upanishad. The recognised place, however, for the ancient Upanishads is in the Âranyakas, or forest-books, which, as a rule, form an appendix to the Brâhmanas, but are sometimes included also under the general name of Brâhmana. Brâhmana, in fact, meaning originally the sayings of Brahmans, whether in the general sense of priests, or in the more special of Brahman-priest, is a name applicable not only to the books, properly so called, but to all old prose traditions, whether contained in the Samhitâs, such as the Taittirîya-samhitâ, the Brâhmanas, the Âranyakas, the Upanishads, and even, in certain cases, in the Sûtras. We shall see in the introduction to the Aitareya-âranyaka, that that Âranyaka is in the beginning a Brâhmana, a mere continuation of the Aitareya-brâhmana, explaining the Mahâvrata ceremony, while its last book contains the Sûtras or short technical rules explaining the same ceremony which in the first book had been treated in the style peculiar to the Brâhmanas. In the same Aitareya-âranyaka, III, 2, 6, 6, a passage of the Upanishad is spoken of as a Brâhmana, possibly as something like a Brâhmana, while something very like an Upanishad occurs in the Âpastamba-sûtras, and might be quoted therefore as a Sûtra 1. At all events the Upanishads, like the Âranyakas, belong to what Hindu theologians call Sruti, or revealed literature, in opposition to Smriti, or traditional literature, which is supposed to be founded on the former, and allowed to claim a secondary authority only; and the earliest of these philosophical treatises will always, I believe, maintain a place in the literature of the world, among the most astounding productions of the human mind in any age and in any country.


The ancient Upanishads, i. e. those which occupy a place in the Samhitâs, Brâhmanas, and Âranyakas, must be, if we follow the chronology which at present is commonly, though, it may be, provisionally only, received by Sanskrit scholars, older than 600 B.C., i.e. anterior to the rise of Buddhism. As to other Upanishads, and their number is very large, which either stand by themselves, or which are ascribed to the Atharva-veda, it is extremely difficult to fix their age. Some of them arc, no doubt, quite modern, for mention is made even of an Allah-upanishad; but others may claim a far higher antiquity than is generally assigned to them on internal evidence. I shall only mention that the name of Atharvasiras, an Upanishad generally assigned to a very modern date, is quoted in the Sûtras of Gautama and Baudhâyana 2; that the Svetâsvatara-upanishad, or the Svetâsvataranâm Mantropanishad, though bearing many notes of later periods of thought, is quoted by Sankara in his commentary on the Vedânta-sûtras 1; while the Nrisimhottaratâpanîya-upanishad forms part of the twelve Upanishads explained by Vidyâranya in his Sarvopanishad-arthânubhûti-prakâsa. The Upanishads comprehended in that work are:

1. Aitareya-upanishad.
2. Taittirîya-upanishad.
3. Khândogya-upanishad.
4. Mundaka-upanishad.
5. Prasna-upanishad.
6. Kaushîtaki-upanishad.
7. Maitrâyanîya-upanishad.
8. Kathavallî-upanishad.
9. Svetâsvatara-upanishad.
10. Brihad-âranyaka-upanishad.
11. Talavakâra (Kena)-upanishad.
12. Nrisimhottaratâpanîya-upanishad 2.

The number of Upanishads translated by Dârâ Shukoh amounts to 50; their number, as given in the Mahâvâkyamuktâvalî and in the Muktikâ-upanishad, is 108 3. Professor Weber thinks that their number, so far as we know at present, may be reckoned at 235 4. In order, however, to arrive at so high a number, every title of an Upanishad would have to be counted separately, while in several cases it is clearly the same Upanishad which is quoted under different names. In an alphabetical list which I published in 1855 (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft XIX, 137-158), the number of real Upanishads reached 149. To that number Dr. Burnell 5 in his Catalogue (p. 59) added 5, Professor Haug (Brahma und die Brahmanen) 16, making a sum total of 170. New names, however, are constantly being added in the catalogues of MSS. published by Bühler, Kielhorn, Burnell, Rajendralal Mitra, and others, and I shall reserve therefore a more complete list of Upanishads for a later volume.

Though it is easy to see that these Upanishads belong to very different periods of Indian thought, any attempt to fix their relative age seems to me for the present almost hopeless. No one can doubt that the Upanishads which have had a place assigned to them in the Samhitâs, Brâhmanas, and Âranyakas are the oldest. Next to these we can draw a line to include the Upanishads clearly referred to in the Vedânta-sûtras, or explained and quoted by Sankara, by Sâyana, and other more modern commentators. We can distinguish Upanishads in prose from Upanishads in mixed prose and verse, and again Upanishads in archaic verse from Upanishads in regular and continuous Anushtubh Slokas. We can also class them according to their subjects, and, at last, according to the sects to which they belong. But beyond this it is hardly safe to venture at present. Attempts have been made by Professor Weber and M. Regnaud to fix in each class the relative age of certain Upanishads, and I do not deny to their arguments, even where they conflict with each other, considerable weight in forming a preliminary judgment. But I know of hardy any argument which is really convincing, or which could not be met by counter arguments equally strong. Simplicity may be a sign of antiquity, but it is not so always, for what seems simple, may be the result of abbreviation. One Upanishad may give the correct, another an evidently corrupt reading, yet it does not follow that the correct reading may not be the result of an emendation. It is quite clear that a large mass of traditional Upanishads must have existed before they assumed their present form. Where two or three or four Upanishads contain the same story, told almost in the same words, they are not always copied from one another, but they have been settled independently, in different localities, by different teachers, it may be, for different purposes. Lastly, the influence of Sâkhâs or schools may have told more or less on certain Upanishads. Thus the Maitrâyanîya-upanishad, as we now possess it, shows a number of irregular forms which even the commentator can account for only as peculiarities of the Maitrâyanîya-sâkhâ 1. That Upanishad, as it has come down to us, is full of what we should call clear indications of a modern and corrupt age. It contains in VI, 37, a sloka from the Mânava-dharma-sâstra, which startled even the commentator, but is explained away by him as possibly found in another Sâkhâ, and borrowed from there by Manu. It contains corruptions of easy words which one would have thought must have been familiar to every student. Thus instead of the passage as found in the Khândogya-upanishad VIII, 7, 1, ya âtmâpahatapâpmâ vigaro vimrityur visoko ‘vigighatso ‘pipâsah, &c., the text of the Maitrâyanîya-upanishad (VII, 7) reads, âtmâpahatapâpmâ vigaro vimrityur visoko ‘vikikitso ‘vipâsah. But here again the commentator explains that another Sâkhâ reads ‘vigighatsa, and that avipâsa is to be explained by means of a change of letters as apipâsa. Corruptions, therefore, or modern elements which are found in one Upanishad, as handed down in one Sâkhâ, do not prove that the same existed in other Sâkhâs, or that they were found in the original text.

All these questions have to be taken into account before we can venture to give a final judgment on the relative age of Upanishads which belong to one and the same class. I know of no problem which offers so many similarities with the one before us as that of the relative age of the four Gospels. All the difficulties which occur in the Upanishads occur here, and no critical student who knows the difficulties that have to be encountered in determining the relative age of the four Gospels, will feel inclined, in the present state of Vedic scholarship, to speak with confidence on the relative age of the ancient Upanishads.


With regard to a critical restoration of the text of the Upanishads, I have but seldom relied on the authority of new MSS., but have endeavoured throughout to follow that text which is presupposed by the commentaries, whether they are the work of the old Sankarâkârya, or of the more modern Sankarânanda, or Sâyana, or others. Though there still prevails some uncertainty as to the date of Sankarâkârya, commonly assigned to the eighth century A.D., yet I doubt whether any MSS. of the Upanishads could now be found prior to 1000 A.D. The text, therefore, which Sankara had before his eyes, or, it may be, his ears, commands, I think, a higher authority than that of any MSS. likely to be recovered at present.

It may be objected that Sankara’s text belonged to one locality only, and that different readings and different recensions may have existed in other parts of India. That is perfectly true. We possess various recensions of several Upanishads, as handed down in different Sâkhâs of different Vedas, and we know of various readings recorded by the commentators. These, where they are of importance for our purposes, have been carefully taken into account.

It has also been supposed that Sankara, who, in writing his commentaries on the Upanishad, was chiefly guided by philosophical considerations, his chief object being to use the Upanishads as a sacred foundation for the Vedânta philosophy, may now and then have taken liberties with the text. That may be so, but no stringent proof of it has as yet been brought forward, and I therefore hold that when we succeed in establishing throughout that text which served as the basis of Sankara’s commentaries, we have done enough for the present, and have fulfilled at all events the first and indispensable task in a critical treatment of the text of the Upanishads.

But in the same manner as it is easy to see that the text

p. lxxii

of the Rig-veda, which is presupposed by Sâyana’s commentary and even by earlier works, is in many places palpably corrupt, we cannot resist the same conviction with regard to the text of the Upanishads. In some cases the metre, in others grammar, in others again the collation of analogous passages enable us to detect errors, and probably very ancient errors, that had crept into the text long before Sankara composed his commentaries.

Some questions connected with the metres of the Upanishads have been very learnedly treated by Professor Gildemeister in his essay, ‘Zur Theorie des Sloka.’ The lesson to be derived from that essay, and from a study of the Upanishads, is certainly to abstain for the present from conjectural emendations. In the old Upanishads the same metrical freedom prevails as in the hymns; in the later Upanishads, much may be tolerated as the result of conscious or unconscious imitation. The metrical emendations that suggest themselves are generally so easy and so obvious that, for that very reason, we should hesitate before correcting what native scholars would have corrected long ago, if they had thought that there was any real necessity for correction.

It is easy to suggest, for instance, that in the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ-upanishad, verse 5, instead of tad antar asya sarvasya, tadu sarvasyâsya bâhyatah, the original text may have been tad antar asya sarvasya tadu sarvasya bâhyatah; yet Sankara evidently read sarvasyâsya, and as the same reading is found in the text of the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ, who would venture to correct so old a mistake?

Again, if in verse 8, we left out yâthâtathyatah, we should get a much more regular metre,

Kavir manîshî paribhûh svyambhûh
arthân vyadahâk khâsvatîbhyai samâbhyah.

Here vyada forms one syllable by what I have proposed to call synizesis 1, which is allowed in the Upanishads as well as in the hymns. All would then seem right, except

p. lxxiii

that it is difficult to explain how so rare a word as yâthâtathyatah could have been introduced into the text.

In verse 10 one feels tempted to propose the omission of eva in anyad âhur avidyayâ, while in verse 11, an eva inserted after vidyâm ka would certainly improve the metre.

In verse 15 the expression satyadharmâya drishtaye is archaic, but perfectly legitimate in the sense of ‘that we may see the nature of the True,’ or ‘that we see him whose nature is true.’ When this verse is repeated in the Maitr. Up. VI, 35, we find instead, satyadharmâya vishnave, ‘for the true Vishnu.’ But here, again, no sound critic would venture to correct a mistake, intentional or unintentional, which is sanctioned both by the MSS. of the text and by the commentary.

Such instances, where every reader feels tempted at once to correct the textus receptus, occur again and again, and when they seem of any interest they have been mentioned in the notes. It may happen, however, that the correction, though at first sight plausible, has to be surrendered on more mature consideration. Thus in the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ-upanishad, verse 2, one feels certainly inclined to write evam tve nânyatheto ‘sti, instead of evam tvayi nânyatheto ‘sti. But tve, if it were used here, would probably itself have to be pronounced dissyllabically, while tvayi, though it never occurs in the Rig-veda, may well keep its place here, in the last book of the Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ, provided we pronounce it by synizesis, i. e. as one syllable.

Attempts have been made sometimes to go beyond Sankara, and to restore the text, as it ought to have been originally, but as it was no longer in Sankara’s time. It is one thing to decline to follow Sankara in every one of his interpretations, it is quite another to decline to accept the text which he interprets. The former is inevitable, the latter is always very precarious.

Thus I see, for instance, that M. Regnaud, in the Errata to the second volume of his excellent work on the Upanishads (Matériaux pour servir à l’histoire de la philosophie de l’Inde, 1878) proposes to read in the Brihad-âranyaka upanishad IV, 3, 1-8,

p. lxxiv

sam anena vadishya iti, instead of sa mene na vadishya iti. Sankara adopted the latter reading, and explained accordingly, that Yâgñavalkya went to king Ganaka, but made up his mind not to speak. M. Regnaud, reading sam anena vadishya iti, takes the very opposite view, namely, that Yâgñavalkya went to king Ganaka, having made up his mind to have a conversation with him. As M. Regnaud does not rest this emendation on the authority of any new MSS., we may examine it as an ingenious conjecture; but in that case it seems to me clear that, if we adopted it, we should have at the same time to omit the whole sentence which follows. Sankara saw clearly that what had to be accounted or explained was why the king should address the Brahman first, samrâd eva pûrvam paprakkha; whereas if Yâgñavalkya had come with the intention of having a conversation with the king, he, the Brahman, should have spoken first. This irregularity is explained by the intervening sentence, in which we are reminded that on a former occasion, when Ganaka and Yâgñavalkya had a disputation on the Agnihotra, Yâgñavalkya granted Ganaka a boon to choose, and he chose as his boon the right of asking questions according to his pleasure. Having received that boon, Ganaka was at liberty to question Yâgñavalkya, even though he did not like it, and hence Ganaka is introduced here as the first to ask a question.

All this hangs well together, while if we assume that Yâgñavalkya came for the purpose of having a conversation with Ganaka, the whole sentence from ‘atha ha yag ganakas ka’ to ‘pûrvam paprakkha’ would be useless, nor would there be any excuse for Ganaka beginning the conversation, when Yâgñavalkya came himself on purpose to question him.

It is necessary, even when we feel obliged to reject an interpretation of Sankara’s, without at the same time altering the text, to remember that Sankara, where he is not blinded by philosophical predilections, commands the highest respect as an interpreter. I cannot help thinking therefore that M. Regnaud (vol. i, p. 59) was right in translating the passage in the Khând. Up. V, 3, 7, tasmâd u

p. lxxv

sarveshu lokeshu kshattrasyaiva prasâsanam abhût, by ‘que le kshatriya seul l’a enseignée dans tous les mondes.’ For when he proposes in the ‘Errata’ to translate instead, ‘ç’est pourquoi l’empire dans tous les mondes fut attribué au kshatriya seulement,’ he forgets that such an idea is foreign to the ordinary atmosphere in which the Upanishads move. It is not on account of the philosophical knowledge possessed by a few Kshatriyas, such as Ganaka or Pravâhana, that the privilege of government belongs everywhere to the second class. That rests on a totally different basis. Such exceptional knowledge, as is displayed by a few kings, might be an excuse for their claiming the privileges belonging to the Brahmans, but it would never, in the eyes of the ancient Indian Âryas, be considered as an argument for their claiming kingly power. Therefore, although I am well aware that prasâs is most frequently used in the sense of ruling, I have no doubt that Sankara likewise was fully aware of that, and that if he nevertheless explained prasâsana here in the sense of prasâstritvam sishyânâm, he did so because this meaning too was admissible, particularly here, where we may actually translate it by proclaiming, while the other meaning, that of ruling, would simply be impossible in the concatenation of ideas, which is placed before us in the Upanishad.

It seems, no doubt, extremely strange that neither the last redactors of the text of the Upanishads, nor the commentators, who probably knew the principal Upanishads by heart, should have perceived how certain passages in one Upanishad represented the same or nearly the same text which is found in another Upanishad, only occasionally with the most palpable corruptions.

Thus when the ceremony of offering a mantha or mash is described, we read in the Khândogya-upanishad V, 2, 6, that it is to be accompanied by certain words which on the whole are intelligible. But when the same passage occurs again in the Brihad-âranyaka, those words have been changed to such a degree, and in two different ways in the two Sâkhâs of the Mâdhyandinas and Kânvas, that, though the commentator explains them, they are almost unintelligible.

p. lxxvi

I shall place the three passages together in three parallel lines:

1. Khândogya-upanishad V, 2, 6:
II. Brihad-âranyaka, Mâdhyandina-sâkhâ, XIV, 9, 3, 10:
III. Brihad-âranyaka-upanishad, Kânva-sâkhâ, VI, 3, 5:

I. Amo nâmâsy amâ hi te sarvam idam sa hi gyeshthah
II. âmo ‘sy âmam hi te mayi sa hi
III. âmamsy âmamhi te mahi sa hi

I. sreshtho râgâdhipatih sa mâ gyaishthyam srai-
II. râgesâno ‘dhipatih sa mâ râgesâno
III. râgesâno

I. shthyamgyam âdhipatyam gamayatv aham evedam
II. ‘dhipatim karotv iti.
III. ‘dhipatim karotv iti.

I. sarvam asânîti.

The text in the Khândogya-upanishad yields a certain sense, viz. ‘Thou art Ama by name, for all this together exists in thee. He is the oldest and best, the king, the sovereign. May he make me the oldest, the best, the king, the sovereign. May I be all this.’ This, according to the commentator, is addressed to Prâna, and Ama, though a purely artificial word, is used in the sense of Prâna, or breath, in another passage also, viz. Brihad-âranyaka-up. I, 3, 22. If therefore we accept this meaning of Ama, the rest is easy and intelligible.

But if we proceed to the Brihad-âranyaka, in the Mâdhyandina-sâkhâ, we find the commentator proposing the following interpretation: ‘O Mantha, thou art a full knower, complete knowledge of me belongs to thee.’ This meaning is obtained by deriving âmah from â + man, in the sense of knower, and then taking âmam, as a neuter, in the sense of knowledge, derivations which are simply impossible.

Lastly, if we come to the text of the Kânva-sâkhâ, the grammatical interpretation becomes bolder still. Sankara does not explain the passage at all, which is strange, but Ânandagiri interprets âmamsi tvam by ‘Thou knowest

p. lxxvii

[paragraph continues] (all),’ and âmamhi te mahi, by ‘we know thy great (shape),’ which are again impossible forms.

But although there can be little doubt here that the reading of the Khândogya-upanishad gives us the original text, or a text nearest to the original, no sound critic would venture to correct the readings of the Brihad-âranyaka. They are corruptions, but even as corruptions they possess authority, at all events up to a certain point, and it is the fixing of those certain points or chronological limits, which alone can impart a scientific character to our criticism of ancient texts.

In the Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad Professor Cowell has pointed out a passage to me, where we must go beyond the text as it stood when commented on by the Sankarânanda. In the beginning of the fourth adhyâya all MSS. of the text read savasan, and this is the reading which the commentator seems anxious to explain, though not very successfully. I thought that possibly the commentator might have had before him the reading sa vasan, or so ‘vasan, but both would be very unusual. Professor Cowell in his Various Readings, p. xii, conjectured samvasan, which would be liable to the same objection. He now, however, informs me that, as B. has samtvan, and C. satvan, he believes the original text to have been Satvan-Matsyeshu. This seems to me quite convincing, and is borne out by the reading of the Berlin MS., so far as it can be made out from Professor Weber’s essay on the Upanishads, Indische Studien I, p.419. I see that Boehtlingk and Roth in their Sanskrit Dictionary, s.v. satvat, suggest the same emendation.

The more we study the nature of Sanskrit MSS., the more, I believe, we shall feel convinced that their proper arrangement is one by locality rather than by time. I have frequently dwelt on this subject in the introductions to the successive volumes of my edition of the Rig-veda and its commentary by Sâyanâkârya, and my convictions on this point have become stronger ever since. A MS., however modern, from the south of India or from the north, is more important as a check on the textus receptus of

p. lxxviii

any Sanskrit work, as prevalent in Bengal or Bombay, than ever so many MSS., even if of greater antiquity, from the same locality. When therefore I was informed by my friend Dr. Bühler that he had discovered in Kashmir a MS. of the Aitareya-upanishad, I certainly expected some real help from such a treasure. The MS. is described by its discoverer in the last number of the journal of the Bombay Asiatic Society, p.34 1, and has since been sent to me by the Indian Government. It is written on birch bark (bhûrga), and in the alphabet commonly called Sâradâ. The leaves are very much injured on the margin and it is almost impossible to handle them without some injury. In many places the bark has shrunk, probably on being moistened, and the letters have become illegible. Apart from these drawbacks, there remain the difficulties inherent in the Sâradâ alphabet which, owing to its numerous combinations, is extremely difficult to read, and very trying to eyes which are growing weak. However, I collated the Upanishad from the Aitareya-âranyaka, which turned out to be the last portion only, viz. the Samhitâ-upanishad (Ait. Âr. III, 1-2), or, as it is called here, Samhitâranya, and I am sorry to say my expectations have been disappointed. The MS. shows certain graphic peculiarities which Dr. Bühler has pointed out. It is particularly careful in the use of the sibilants, replacing the Visarga by sibilants, writing s + s and s + s instead of h + s and h + s; distinguishing also the Gihvâmûlîya and Upadhmanîya. If therefore the MS. writes antastha, we may be sure that it really meant to write so, and not antahstha, or, as it would have written, antasstha. It shows equal care in the use of the nasals, and generally carries on the sandhi between different paragraphs. Here and there I met with better readings than those given in Rajendralal Mitra’s edition, but in most cases the commentary would have been sufficient to restore the right reading. A few various readings, which seemed to deserve being mentioned, will be found

p. lxxix

in the notes. The MS., though carefully written, is not free from the ordinary blunders. At first one feels inclined to attribute some importance to every peculiarity of a new MS., but very soon one finds out that what seems peculiar, is in reality carelessness. Thus Ait. Âr. III, I, 5, 2, the Kashmir MS. has pûrvam aksharam rûpam, instead of what alone can be right, pûrvarûpam. Instead of pragayâ pasubhih it writes repeatedly pragaya pasubhih, which is impossible. In III, 2, 2, it leaves out again and again manomaya between khandomaya and vânmaya; but that this is a mere accident we learn later on, where in the same sentence manomayo, is found in its right place. Such cases reduce this MS. to its proper level, and make us look with suspicion on any accidental variations, such as I have noticed in my translation.

The additional paragraph, noticed by Dr. Bühler, is very indistinct, and contains, so far as I am able to find out, sânti verses only.

I have no doubt that the discovery of new MSS. of the Upanishads and their commentaries will throw new light on the very numerous difficulties with which a translator of the Upanishads, particularly in attempting a complete and faithful translation, has at present to grapple. Some of the difficulties, which existed thirty years ago, have been removed since by the general progress of Vedic scholarship, and by the editions of texts and commentaries and translations of Upanishads, many of which were known at that time in manuscript only. But I fully agree with M. Regnaud as to the difficultés considérables que les meilleures traductions laissent subsister, and which can be solved only by a continued study of the Upanishads, the Âranyakas, the Brâhmanas, and the Vedânta-sûtras.


How Upanishad became the recognised name of the philosophical treatises contained in the Veda is difficult to explain. Most European scholars are agreed in deriving

p. lxxx

upa-ni-shad from the root sad, to sit down, preceded by the two prepositions ni, down, and upa, near, so that it would express the idea of session, or assembly of pupils sitting down near their teacher to listen to his instruction. In the Trikândasesha, upanishad is explained by samîpasadana, sitting down near a person 1.

Such a word, however, would have been applicable, it would seem, to any other portion of the Veda as well as to the chapters called Upanishad, and it has never been explained how its meaning came thus to be restricted. It is still more strange that upanishad, in the sense of session or assembly, has never, so far as I am aware, been met with. Whenever the word occurs, it has the meaning of doctrine, secret doctrine, or is simply used as the title of the philosophic treatises which constitute the gñânakânda, the knowledge portion, as opposed to the karmakânda, the work or ceremonial portion, of the Veda.

Native philosophers seem never to have thought of deriving upanishad from sad, to sit down. They derive it either from the root sad, in the sense of destruction, supposing these ancient treatises to have received their name because they were intended to destroy passion and ignorance by means of divine revelation 2, or from the root sad, in the sense of approaching, because a knowledge of Brahman comes near to us by means of the Upanishads, or because we approach Brahman by their help. Another explanation proposed by Sankara in his commentary on the Taittirîya-upanishad II, 9, is that the highest bliss is contained in the Upanishad (param sreyo ‘syâm nishannam).

These explanations seem so wilfully perverse that it is difficult to understand the unanimity of native scholars. We ought to take into account, however, that very general tendency among half-educated people, to acquiesce in any etymology which accounts for the most prevalent meaning of a word. The Âranyakas abound in

p. lxxxi

such etymologies, which probably were never intended as real etymologies, in our sense of the word, but simply as plays on words, helping to account somehow for their meaning. The Upanishads, no doubt, were meant to destroy ignorance and passion, and nothing seemed more natural therefore than that their etymological meaning should be that of destroyers 1.

The history and the genius of the Sanskrit language leave little doubt that upanishad meant originally session, particularly a session consisting of pupils, assembled at a respectful distance round their teacher.

With upa alone, sad occurs as early as the hymns of the Rig-veda, in the sense of approaching respectfully 2:–

Rig-veda IX, 11, 6. Námasâ ít úpa sîdata, ‘approach him with praise.’ See also Rig-veda X, 73, II; I, 65, I.

In the Khândogya-upanishad VI, 13, I, a teacher says to his pupil, atha mâ prâtar upasîdathâh, ‘come to me (for advice) to-morrow morning.’

In the same Upanishad VII, 8, I, a distinction is made between those who serve their teachers (parikaritâ), and those who are admitted to their more intimate society (upasattâ, comm. samîpagah, antarangah, priyah).

Again, in the Khândogya-upanishad VII, I, we read of a pupil approaching his teacher (upâsasâda or upasasâda), and of the teacher telling him to approach with what he knows, i.e. to tell him first what he has learnt already (yad vettha tena mopasîda 3).

In the Sûtras (Gobhilîya Grihya-sûtra II, 10, 38) upasad is the recognised term for the position assumed by a pupil with his hands folded and his eyes looking up to the teacher who is to instruct him.

It should be stated, however, that no passage has yet been met with in which upa-ni-sad is used in the sense of pupils approaching and listening to their teacher. In the

p. lxxxii

only passage in which upanishasâda occurs (Ait. Âr. II, 2, 1), it is used of Indra sitting down by the side of Visvâmitra, and it is curious to observe that both MSS. and commentaries give here upanishasasâda, an entirely irregular form.

The same is the case with two other roots which are used almost synonymously with sad, viz. âs and vis. We find upa + âs used to express the position which the pupil occupies when listening to his teacher, e.g. Pân. III, 4, 72, upâsito gurum bhavân, ‘thou hast approached the Guru,’ or upâsito gurur bhavatâ, ‘the Guru has been approached by thee.’ We find pari + upa + âs used with regard to relations assembled round the bed of a dying friend, Khând. Up. VI, 15; or of hungry children sitting round their mother, and likened to people performing the Agnihotra sacrifice (Khând. Up. V, 24, 5). But I have never met with upa-ni-as in that sense.

We likewise find upa-vis used in the sense of sitting down to a discussion (Khând. Up. I, 8, 2), but I have never found upa + ni + vis as applied to a pupil listening to his teacher.

The two prepositions upa and ni occur, however, with pat, to fly, in the sense of flying down and settling near a person, Khând. Up. IV, 7, 2; IV, 8, 2. And the same prepositions joined to the verb sri, impart to it the meaning of sitting down beneath a person, so as to show him respect: Brih. Âr. I, 4, II. ‘Although a king is exalted, he sits down at the end of the sacrifice below the Brahman,’ brahmaivântata upanisrayati.

Sad, with upa and ni, occurs in upanishâdin only, and has there the meaning of subject, e.g. Satap. Brâhm. IX, 4, 3, 3, kshatrâya tad visam adhastâd upanishâdinîm karoti, ‘he thus makes the Vis (citizen) below, subject to the Kshatriya.’

Sometimes nishad is used by the side of upanishad, and so far as we can judge, without any difference of meaning 1.

All we can say therefore, for the present, is that upanishad,

p. lxxxiii

besides being the recognised title of certain philosophical treatises, occurs also in the sense of doctrine and of secret doctrine, and that it seems to have assumed this meaning from having been used originally in the sense of session or assembly in which one or more pupils receive instruction from a teacher.

Thus we find the word upanishad used in the Upanishads themselves in the following meanings:

1. Secret or esoteric explanation, whether true or false.

2. Knowledge derived from such explanation.

3. Special rules or observances incumbent on those who have received such knowledge.

4. Title of the books containing such knowledge.

I. Ait. Âr. III, 1, 6, 3. ‘For this Upanishad, i.e. in order to obtain the information about the true meaning of Samhitâ, Târukshya served as a cowherd for a whole year.’

Taitt. Up. 1, 3. ‘We shall now explain the Upanishad of the Samhitâ.’

Ait. Âr. III, 2, 5, 1. ‘Next follows this Upanishad of the whole speech. True, all these are Upanishads of the whole speech, but this they declare especially.’

Talav. Up. IV, 7. ‘As you have asked me to tell you the Upanishad, the Upanishad has now been told you. We have told you the Brâhmî Upanishad,’ i.e. the true meaning of Brahman.

In the Khând. Up. III, II, 3, after the meaning of Brahman has been explained, the text says: ‘To him who thus knows this Brahma upanishad (the secret doctrine of Brahman) the sun does not rise and does not set.’ In the next paragraph brahma itself is used, meaning either Brahman as the object taught in the Upanishad, or, by a slight change of meaning, the Upanishad itself.

Khând. Up. I, 13, 4. ‘Speech yields its milk to him who knows this Upanishad (secret doctrine) of the Sâmans in this wise.’

Khând. Up. VIII, 8, 4. When Indra and Virokana had both misunderstood the teaching of Pragâpati, he says: ‘They both go away without having perceived and without having known the Self, and whoever of these two, whether

p. lxxxiv

Devas or Asuras, will follow this doctrine (upanishad), will perish.’

II. In the Khând. Up. I, i, after the deeper meaning of the Udgîtha or Om has been described, the advantage of knowing that deeper meaning is put forward, and it is said that the sacrifice which a man performs with knowledge, with faith, and with the Upanishad, i.e. with an understanding of its deeper meaning, is more powerful.

III. In the Taittirîya-upanishad, at the end of the second chapter, called the Brahmânandavallî, and again at the end of the tenth chapter, the text itself says: Ity upanishad, this is the Upanishad, the true doctrine.’

IV. In the Kaushîtaki-upanishad II, I; 2, we read: ‘Let him not beg, this is the Upanishad for him who knows this.’ Here upanishad stands for vrata or rahasya-vrata, rule.



THE Khândogya-upanishad belongs to the Sâma-veda. Together with the Brihad-âranyaka, which belongs to the Yagur-veda, it has contributed the most important materials to what may be called the orthodox philosophy of India, the Vedânta 1, i.e. the end, the purpose, the highest object of the Veda. It consists of eight adhyâyas or lectures, and formed part of a Khândogya-brâhmana, in which it was preceded by two other adhyâyas. While MSS. of the Khândogya-upanishad and its commentary are frequent, no MSS. of the whole Brâhmana has been met with in Europe. Several scholars had actually doubted its existence, but Rajendralal Mitra 2, in the Introduction to his translation of the Khândogya-upanishad, states that in India ‘MSS. of the work are easily available, though as yet he has seen no commentary attached to the Brâhmana portion of any one of them.’ ‘According to general acceptation,’ he adds, ‘the work embraces ten chapters, of which the first two are reckoned to be the Brâhmana, and the rest is known under the name of Khândogya-upanishad. In their arrangement and style the two portions differ greatly, and judged by them they appear to be productions of very different ages, though both are evidently relics of pretty remote antiquity. Of the two chapters of the Khândogya-brâhmana 1, the first includes eight sûktas (hymns) on the ceremony of marriage, and the rites necessary to be observed at the birth of a child. The first sûktas is intended to be recited when offering an oblation to Agni on the occasion of a marriage, and its object is to pray for prosperity in behalf of the married couple. The second prays for long life, kind relatives, and a numerous progeny. The third is the marriage pledge by which the contracting parties bind themselves to each other. Its spirit may be guessed from a single verse. In talking of the unanimity with which they will dwell, the bridegroom addresses his bride, “That heart of thine shall be mine, and this heart of mine shall be thine 2.” The fourth and the fifth invoke Agni, Vâyu, Kandramas, and Sûrya to bless the couple and ensure healthful progeny. The sixth is a mantra for offering an oblation on the birth of a child; and the seventh and the eighth are prayers for its being healthy, wealthy, and powerful, not weak, poor, or mute, and to ensure a profusion of wealth and milch-cows. The first sûkta of the second chapter is addressed to the Earth, Agni, and Indra, with a prayer for wealth, health, and prosperity; the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth are mantras for offering oblations to cattle, the manes, Sûrya, and divers minor deities. The seventh is a curse upon worms, insects, flies, and other nuisances, and the last, the concluding mantra of the marriage ceremony, in which a general blessing is invoked for all concerned.’

After this statement there can be but little doubt that this Upanishad originally formed part of a Brâhmana. This may have been called either by a general name, the Brâhmana of the Khandogas, the followers of the Sâma-veda, or, on account of the prominent place occupied in it by the Upanishad, the Upanishad-brâhmana 1. In that case it would be one of the eight Brâhmanas of the Sâma-veda, enumerated by Kumârila Bhatta and others 2, and called simply Upanishad, scil. Brâhmana.

The text of the Upanishad with the commentary of Sankara and the gloss of Ânandagiri has been published in the Bibliotheca Indica. The edition can only claim the character of a manuscript, and of a manuscript not always very correctly read.

A translation of the Upanishad was published, likewise in the Bibliotheca Indica, by Rajendralal Mitra.

It is one of the Upanishads that was translated into Persian under the auspices of Dârâ Shukoh 3, and from Persian into French by Anquetil Duperron, in his Oupnekhat, i.e. Secretum Tegendum. Portions of it were translated into English by Colebrooke in his Miscellaneous Essays, into Latin and German by F. W. Windischmann, in his Sankara, seu de theologumenis Vedanticorum. (Bonn, 1833), and in a work published by his father, K. J. H. Windischmann, Die Philosophie im Fortgang der Weltgeschichte (Bonn, 1827-34). Professor A. Weber has treated of this Upanishad in his Indische Studien I, 254; likewise M. P. Regnaud in his Matériaux pour servir à l’histoire dc la philosophie de l’Inde (Paris, 1876) and Mr. Gough in several articles on ‘the Philosophy of the Upanishads,’ in the Calcutta Review, No. CXXXI.

I have consulted my predecessors whenever there was a serious difficulty to solve in the translation of these ancient texts. These difficulties are very numerous, as those know best who have attempted to give complete translations of these ancient texts. It will be seen that my translation differs sometimes very considerably from those of my predecessors. Though I have but seldom entered into any controversy with them, they may rest assured that I have not deviated from them without careful reflection.



THIS Upanishad is best known by the name of Kena-upanishad, from its first word. The name of brâhmî-upanishad (IV, 7) can hardly be considered as a title. It means ‘the teaching of Brahman,’ and is used with reference to other Upanishads also 1. Sankara, in his commentary, tells us that this Upanishad forms the ninth adhyâya of a Brâhmana, or, if we take his words quite literally, he says, ‘the beginning of the ninth adhyâya is “the Upanishad beginning with the words Keneshitam, and treating of the Highest Brahman has to be taught.”‘ In the eight preceeding adhyâyas, he tells us, all the sacred rites or sacrifices had been fully explained, and likewise the meditations (upâsana) on the prâna (vital breath) which belongs to all these sacrifices, and those meditations also which have reference to the fivefold and sevenfold Sâmans. After that followed Gâyatra-sâman and the Vamsa, the genealogical list. All this would naturally form the subject of a Sâma-veda-brâhmana, and we find portions corresponding to the description given by Sankara in the Khândogya-upanishad, e.g. the fivefold Sâman, II, 2; the sevenfold Sâman, II, 8; the Gâyatra-sâman, III, 12, I.

Ânandagñâna tells us that our Upanishad belonged to the Sâkhâ of the Talavakâras.

All this had formerly to be taken on trust, because no Brâhmana was known containing the Upanishad. Dr. Burnell, however, has lately discovered a Brâhmana of the Sâma-veda which comes very near the description given by Sankara. In a letter dated Tanjore, 8th Dec. 1878, he writes: ‘It appears to me that you would be glad to know the following about the Kena-upanishad, as it occurs in my MS. of the Talavakâra-brâhmana.

‘The last book but one of this Brâhmana is termed Upanishad-brâhmana. It consists of 145 khandas treating of the Gâyatra-sâman, and the 134th is a Vamsa. The Kena-upanishad comprises the 135-145 khandas, or the tenth anuvâka of a chapter. The 139th section begins: âsâ vâ idam agra âsit, &c.

‘My MS. of the Talavakâra-brâhmana agrees, as regards the contents, exactly with what Sankara says, but not in the divisions. He says that the Kena-upanishad begins the ninth adhyâya, but that is not so in my MS. Neither the beginning nor the end of this Upanishad is noticed particularly.

‘The last book of this Brâhmana is the Ârsheya-brâhmana, which I printed last February.

‘Among the teachers quoted in the Brâhmana I have noticed both Tândya and Sâtyâyani. I should not be surprised to find in it the difficult quotations which are incorrectly given in the MSS. of Sâyana’s commentary on the Rig-veda. The story of Apâlâ, quoted by Sâyana in his commentary on the Rig-veda, VIII, 80, as from the Sâtyâyanaka, is found word for word, except some trivial var. lectiones, in sections 220-221 of the Agnishtoma book of the Talavakâra-brâhmana. The Sâtyâyanins seem to be closely connected with the Talavakâra-sâkhâ.’

From a communication made by Dr. Burnell to the Academy (1 Feb. 79), I gather that this Talavakâra-brâhmana is called by those who study it ‘Gaiminîya-brâhmana,’ after the Sâkhâ of the Sâma-veda which they follow. The account given in the Academy differs on some particulars slightly from that given in Dr. Burnell’s letter to me. He writes: ‘The largest part of the Brâhmana treats of the sacrifices and the Sâmans used at them. The first chapter is on the Agnihotra, and the Agnishtoma and other rites follow at great length. Then comes a book termed Upanishad-brâhmana. This contains 145 sections in four chapters. It begins with speculations on the Gâyatra-sâman, followed by a Vamsa; next, some similar matter and another Vamsa. Then (§§ 135-138) comes the Kena-upanishad (Talavakâra). The last book is the Ârsheya. The Upanishad forms the tenth anuvâka of the fourth chapter, not the beginning of a ninth chapter, as Sankara remarks.’

The Kena-upanishad has been frequently published and translated. It forms part of Dârâ Shukoh’s Persian, and Anquetil Duperron’s Latin translations. It was several times published in English by Rammohun Roy (Translations of Several Principal Books, Passages, and Texts of the Veda, London, 1832, p. 41), in German by Windischmann, Poley, and others. It has been more or less fully discussed by Colebrooke, Windischmann, Poley, Weber, Röer, Gough, and Regnaud in the books mentioned before,

Besides the text of this Upanishad contained in the Brâhmana of the Sâma-veda, there is another text, slightly differing, belonging to the Atharva-veda, and there are commentaries on both texts (Colebrooke, Misc. Essays, 1873, II, p. 80).


IN giving a translation of the Aitareya-upanishad, I found it necessary to give at the same time a translation of that portion of the Aitareya-âranyaka which precedes the Upanishad. The Âranyakas seem to have been from the beginning the proper repositories of the ancient Upanishads, though it is difficult at first sight to find out in what relation the Upanishads stood to the Âranyakas. The Âranyakas are to be read and studied, not in the village (grâme), but in the forest, and so are the Upanishads. But the subjects treated in the Upanishads belong to a very different order from those treated in the other portions of the Âranyakas, the former being philosophical, the latter liturgical.

The liturgical chapters of the Âranyakas might quite as well have formed part of the Brâhmanas, and but for the restriction that they are to be read in the forest, it is difficult to distinguish between them and the Brâhmanas. The first chapter of the Aitareya-âranyaka is a mere continuation of the Aitareya-brâhmana, and gives the description of the Mahâvrata, the last day but one of the Gavâmayana, a sattra or sacrifice which is supposed to last a whole year. The duties which are to be performed by the Hotri priests are described in the Aitareya-âranyaka; not all, however, but those only which are peculiar to the Mahâvrata day. The general rules for the performance of the Mahâvrata are to be taken over from other sacrifices, such as the Visvagit, Katurvimsa, &c., which form the type (prakriti) of the Mahâvrata. Thus the two sastras or recitations, called âgya-praüga, are taken over from the Visvagit, the sastras of the Hotrakas from the Katurvimsa. The Mahâvrata is treated here as belonging to the Gavâmayana sattra, which is described in a different Sâkhâ, see Taittirîya Samhitâ VII, 5, 8, and partly in other Vedas. It is the day preceding the udayanîya, the last day of the sattra. It can be celebrated, however, by itself also, as an ekâha or ahîna sacrifice, and in the latter case it is the tenth day of the Ekadasarâtra (eleven nights sacrifice) called Pundarîka.

Sâyana does not hesitate to speak of the Aitareya-Âranyaka as a part of the Brâhmana 1; and a still earlier authority, Sankara, by calling the Aitareya-upanishad by the name of Bahvrika-brâhmana-upanishad 2, seems to imply that both the Upanishad and the Âranyaka may be classed as Brâhmana.

The Aitareya-Âranyaka appears at first sight a miscellaneous work, consisting of liturgical treatises in the first, fourth, and fifth Âranyakas, and of three Upanishads, in the second and third Âranyakas. This, however, is not the case. The first Âranyaka is purely liturgical, giving a description of the Mahâvrata, so far as it concerns the Hotri priest. It is written in the ordinary Brâhmana style. Then follows the first Upanishad, Âranyaka II, 1-3, showing how certain portions of the Mahâvrata, as described in the first Âranyaka, can be made to suggest a deeper meaning, and ought to lead the mind of the sacrificer away from the purely outward ceremonial to meditation on higher subjects. Without a knowledge of the first Âranyaka therefore the first Upanishad would be almost unintelligible, and though its translation was extremely tedious, it could not well have been omitted.

The second and third Upanishads are not connected with the ceremonial of the Mahâvrata, but in the fourth and fifth Âranyakas the Mahâvrata forms again the principal subject, treated, however, not as before in the style of the Brâhmanas, but in the style of Sûtras. The fourth Âranyaka contains nothing but a list of the Mahânâmnî hymns 1, but the fifth describes the Mahâvrata again, so that if the first Âranyaka may be looked upon as a portion of the Aitareya-brâhmanas, the fifth could best be classed with the Sûtras of Âsvalâyana.

To a certain extent this fact, the composite character of the Aitareya-Âranyaka, is recognised even by native scholars, who generally do not trouble themselves much on such questions. They look both on the Aitareya-brâhmana and on the greater portion of Aitareya-Âranyaka as the works of an inspired Rishi, Mahidâsa Aitareya 2, but they consider the fourth and fifth books of the Âranyaka as contributed by purely human authors, such as Âsvalâyana and Saunaka, who, like other Sûtrakâras, took in verses belonging to other Sâkhâs, and did not confine their rules to their own Sâkhâ only.

There are many legends about Mahidâsa, the reputed author of the Aitareya-brâhmana and Âranyaka. He is quoted several times as Mahidâsa Aitareya in the Âranyaka itself, though not in the Brâhmana. We also meet his name in the Khândogya-upanishad (III, 16, 7), where we are told that he lived to an age of 116 years 1. All this, however, would only prove that, at the time of the composition or collection of these Âranyakas and Upanishads, a sage was known of the name of Mahidâsa Aitareya, descended possibly from Itara or Itarâ. and that one text of the Brâhmanas and the Âranyakas of the Bahvrikas was handed down in the family of the Aitareyins.

Not content with this apparently very obvious explanation, later theologians tried to discover their own reasons for the name of Aitareya. Thus Sâyana, in his introduction to the Aitareya-brâhmana 2, tells us that there was once a Rishi who had many wives. One of them was called Itarâ, and she had a son called Mahidâsa. His father preferred the sons of his other wives to Mahidâsa, and once he insulted him in the sacrificial hall, by placing his other sons on his lap, but not Mahidâsa. Mahidâsa’s mother, seeing her son with tears in his eyes, prayed to her tutelary goddess, the Earth (svîyakuladevatâ Bhûmih), and the goddess in her heavenly form appeared in the midst of the assembly, placed Mahidâsa on a throne, and on account of his learning, gave him the gift of knowing the Brâhmana, consisting of forty adhyâyas, and, as Sâyana calls it, another Brâhmana, ‘treating of the Âranyaka duties’ (âranyakavratarûpam brâhmanam).

Without attaching much value to the legend of Itarâ, we see at all events that Sâyana considered what we call the Aitareyâranyaka as a kind of Brâhmana, not however the whole of it, but only the first, second, and third Âranyakas (atha mahâvratam îtyâdikam âkâryâ âkâryâ ityantam). How easy it was for Hindu theologians to invent such legends we see from another account of Mahidâsa, given by Ânandatîrtha in his notes on the Aitareya-upanishad. He, as Colebrooke was the first to point out, takes Mahidâsa ‘to be an incarnation of Nârâyana, proceeding from Visâla, son of Abga,’ and he adds, that on the sudden appearance of this deity at a solemn celebration, the whole assembly of gods and priests (suraviprasangha) fainted, but at the intercession of Brahmâ, they were revived, and after making their obeisance, they were instructed in holy science. This avatâra was called Mahidâsa, because those venerable personages (mahin) declared themselves to be his slaves (dâsa) 1.

In order properly to understand this legend, we must remember that Ânandatîrtha, or rather Visvesvaratîrtha, whose commentary he explains, treated the whole of the Mahaitareya-upanishad from a Vaishnava point of view, and that his object was to identify Mahidâsa with Nârâyana. He therefore represents Nârâyana or Hari as the avatâra of Visâla, the son of Brahman (abgasuta), who appeared at a sacrifice, as described before, who received then and there the name of Mahidâsa (or Mahîdâsa), and who taught this Upanishad. Any other person besides Mahidâsa would have been identified with the same ease by Visvesvaratîrtha with Vishnu or Bhagavat.

A third legend has been made up out of these two by European scholars who represent Mahidâsa as the son of Visâla and Itarâ, two persons who probably never met before, for even the Vaishnava commentator does not attempt to take liberties with the name of Aitareya, but simply states that the Upanishad was called Aitareyî, from Aitareya.

Leaving these legends for what they are worth, we may at all events retain the fact that, whoever was the author of the Aitareya-brâhmana and the first three books of the Aitareya-Âranyaka, was not the author of the two concluding Âranyakas. And this is confirmed in different ways. Sâyana, when quoting in his commentary on the Rig-veda from the last books, constantly calls it a Sûtra of Saunaka, while the fourth Âranyaka is specially ascribed to Âsvalâyana, the pupil and successor of Saunaka 1. These two names of Saunaka and Âsvalâyana are frequently intermixed. If, however, in certain MSS. the whole of the Aitareya-âranyaka is sometimes ascribed either to Âsvalâyana or Saunaka, this is more probably due to the colophon of the fourth and fifth Âranyakas having been mistaken for the title of the whole work than to the fact that such MSS. represent the text of the Âranyaka, as adopted by the school of Âsvalâyana.

The Aitareya-âranyaka consists of the following five Âranyakas:

The first Âranyaka has five Adhyâyas:

1. First Adhyâya, Atha mahâvratam, has four Khandas, 1-4.
2. Second Adhyâya, Â tvâ ratham, has four Khandas, 5-8.
3. Third Adhyâya, Hinkârena, has eight 2 Khandas, 9-16.
4. Fourth Adhyâya, Atha sûdadohâh, has three Khandas, 17-19.
5. Fifth Adhyâya, Vasam samsati, has three Khandas, 20-22.

The second Âranyaka has seven Adhyâyas:

6. First Adhyâya, Eshâ panthâh, has eight Khandas, 1-8.
7. Second Adhyâya, Esha imam lokam, has four Khandas, 9-12.
8. Third Adhyâya, Yo ha vâ âtmânam, has eight (not three) Khandas, 13-20.
9. Fourth Adhyâya, Âtma vâ idam, has three Khandas, 21-23.
10. Fifth Adhyâya, Purushe ha vâ, has one Khanda, 24
11. Sixth Adhyâya, Ko ‘yam âtmeti, has one Khanda, 25.
12. Seventh Adhyâya, Vân me manasi, has one Khanda, 26.

The third Âranyaka has two Adhyâyas:

13. First Adhyâya, Athâtah samhitâyâ upanishat, has six Khandas, 1-6.
14. Second Adhyâya, Prâno vamsa iti sthavirah Sâkalyah, has six Khandas, 7-12.

The fourth Âranyaka, has one Adhyâya:

15. First Adhyâya, Vidâ maghavan, has one Khanda (the Mahânâmnî’s).

The fifth Âranyaka has three Adhyâyas:

16. First Adhyâya, Mahâvratasya pañkavimsatim, has six Khandas, 1-6.
17. Second Adhyâya, (Grîvâh)Yasyedam, has five Khandas, 7-11.
18. Third Adhyâya, (Ûrû) Indrâgnî, has four Khandas, 11-14

(9-11 are labelled Aitareya-upanishad and 6-14 are labelled Bahvrika-upanishad by vertical brackets in the original)

With regard to the Upanishad, we must distinguish between the Aitareya-upanishad, properly so-called, which fills the fourth, fifth, and sixth adhyâyas of the second Âranyaka, and the Mahaitareya-upanishad 1, also called by a more general name Bahvrika-upanishad, which comprises the whole of the second and third Âranyakas.

The Persian translator seems to have confined himself to the second Âranyaka 2, to which he gives various titles, Sarbsar, Asarbeh, Antrteheh. That Antrteheh is a misreading of was pointed out long ago by Burnouf, and the same explanation applies probably to , asarbeh, and if to that, then to Sarbsar also. No explanation has ever been given why the Aitareya-upanishad should have been called Sarvasâra, which Professor Weber thinks was corrupted into Sarbsar. At all events the Aitareya-upanishad is not the Sarvasâra-upanishad, the Oupnek’hat Sarb, more correctly called Sarvopanishatsâra, and ascribed either to the Taittirîyaka or to the Atharva-veda 3.

The Aitareya-upanishad, properly so called, has been edited and translated in the Bibliotheca Indica by Dr. Röer. The whole of the Aitareya-âranyaka with Sâyana’s commentary was published in the same series by Rajendralal Mitra.

Though I have had several MSS. of the text and commentary at my disposal, I have derived little aid from them, but have throughout endeavoured to restore that text which Sankara (the pupil of Govinda) and Sâyana had before them. Sâyana, for the Upanishad portion, follows Sankara’s commentary, of which we have a gloss by Ânandagñâna.

Colebrooke in his Essays (vol. ii, p. 42) says that he possessed one gloss by Nârâyanendra on Sankara’s commentary, and another by Ânandatîrtha on a different gloss for the entire Upanishad. The gloss by Nârâyanendra 1, however, is, so Dr. Rost informs me, the same as that of Ânandagñâna, while, so far as I can see, the gloss contained in MS. E. I. H. 2386 (also MS. Wilson 401), to which Colebrooke refers, is not a gloss by Ânandatîrtha at all, but a gloss by Visvesvaratîrtha on a commentary by Ânandatîrthabhagavatpâdâkârya, also called Pûrnapragñâkârya, who explained the whole of the Mahaitareya-upanishad from a Vaishnava point of view.



THE Kaushîtaki-upanishad, or, as it is more properly called, the Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad, belongs, like the Aitareya-upanishad, to the followers of the Rig-veda. It was translated into Persian under the title of Kokhenk, and has been published in the Bibliotheca Indica, with Sankarânanda’s commentary and an excellent translation by Professor Cowell.

Though it is called the Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad, it does not form part of the Kaushîtaki-brâhmana in 30 adhyâyas which we possess, and we must therefore account for its name by admitting that the Âranyaka, of which it formed a portion, could be reckoned as part of the Brâhmana literature of the Rig-veda (see Aitareya-âranyaka, Introduction, p. xcii), and that hence the Upanishad might be called the Upanishad of the Brâhmana of the Kaushîtakins 2.

From a commentary discovered by Professor Cowell it appears that the four adhyâyas of this Upanishad were followed by five other adhyâyas, answering, so far as we can judge from a few extracts, to some of the adhyâyas of the Aitareya-âranyaka, while an imperfect MS. of an Âranyaka in the Royal Library at Berlin (Weber, Catalogue, p.20) begins, like the Aitareya-âranyaka, with a description of the Mahâvrata, followed by discussions on the uktha in the second adhyâya; and then proceeds in the third adhyâya to give the story of Kitra Gângyâyani in the same words as the Kaushîtaki-upanishad in the first adhyâya. Other MSS. again adopt different divisions. In one MS. of the commentary (MS. A), the four adhyâyas of the Upanishad are counted as sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth (ending with ityâranyake navamo ‘dhyâyah); in another (MS. P) the third and fourth adhyâyas of the Upanishad are quoted as the fifth and sixth of the Kaushîtakyâranyaka, possibly agreeing therefore, to a certain extent, with the Berlin MS. In a MS. of the Sânkhâyana Âranyaka in the Royal Library at Berlin, there are 15 adhyâyas, 1 and 2 corresponding to Ait. Âr. 1 and 5; 3-6 containing the Kaushîtaki-upanishad; 7 and 8 corresponding to Ait. Âr. 3 1. Poley seems to have known a MS. in which the four adhyâyas of the Upanishad formed the first, seventh, eighth, and ninth adhyâyas of a Kaushîtaki-brâhmana.

As there were various recensions of the Kaushîtaki-brâhmana (the Sânkhâyana, Kauthuma, &c.), the Upanishad also exists in at least two texts. The commentator, in some of its MSS., refers to the various readings of the Sâkhâs, explaining them, whenever there seems to be occasion for it. I have generally followed the text which is presupposed by Sankarânanda’s Dîpikâ, and contained in MSS. F, G (Cowell, Preface, p. v), so far as regards the third and fourth adhyâyas. According to Professor Cowell, Vidyâranya in his Sarvopanishadarthânubhûtiprakâsa followed the text of the commentary, while Sankarâkârya, if we may trust to extracts in his commentary on the Vedânta-sûtras, followed the other text, contained in MS. A (Cowell, Preface, p. v). The style of the commentator differs in so marked a manner from that of Sankarâkârya, that even without the fact that the author of the commentary on the Kaushîtaki-upanishad is called Sankarânanda, it would have been difficult to ascribe it, as has been done by some scholars, to the famous Sankarânanda. Sankarânanda is called the teacher of Mâdhavâkârya (Hall, Index, p. 98), and the disciple of Ânandâtma Muni (Hall, Index, p. 116).

I have had the great advantage of being able to consult for the Kaushîtaki-upanishad, not only the text and commentary as edited by Professor Cowell, but also his excellent translation. If I differ from him in some points, this is but natural, considering the character of the text and the many difficulties that have still to be solved, before we can hope to arrive at a full understanding of these ancient philosophical treatises.



THE Vâgasaneyi-samhitâ-upanishad, commonly called from its beginning, Îsâ or Îsâvâsya, forms the fortieth and concluding chapter of the Samhitâ of the White Yagur-veda. If the Samhitâs are presupposed by the Brâhmanas, at least in that form in which we possess them, then this Upanishad, being the only one that forms part of a Samhitâ, might claim a very early age. The Samhitâ of the White Yagur-veda, however, is acknowledged to be of modern origin, as compared with the Samhitâ of the Black Yagur-veda, and it would not be safe therefore to ascribe to this Upanishad a much higher antiquity than to those which have found a place in the older Brâhmanas and Âranyakas.

There are differences between the text, as contained in the Yagur-veda-samhitâ, and the text of the Upanishad by itself. Those which are of some interest have been mentioned in the notes.

In some notes appended to the translation of this Upanishad I have called attention to what seems to me its peculiar character, namely, the recognition of the necessity of works as a preparation for the reception of the highest knowledge. This agrees well with the position occupied by this Upanishad at the end of the Samhitâ, in which the sacrificial works and the hymns that are to accompany them are contained. The doctrine that the moment a man is enlightened, he becomes free, as taught in other Upanishads, led to a rejection of all discipline and a condemnation of all sacrifices, which could hardly have been tolerated in the last chapter of the Yagur-veda-samhitâ, the liturgical Veda par excellence.

Other peculiarities of this Upanishad are the name Îs, lord, a far more personal name for the highest Being than Brahman; the asurya (demoniacal) or asûrya (sunless) worlds to which all go who have lost their self; Mâtarisvan, used in the sense of prâna or spirit; asnâviram, without muscles, in the sense of incorporeal; and the distinction between sambhûti and asambhûti in verses 12-14.



THE Katha-upanishad is probably more widely known than any other Upanishad. It formed part of the Persian translation, was rendered into English by Râmmohun Roy, and has since been frequently quoted by English, French, and German writers as one of the most perfect specimens of the mystic philosophy and poetry of the ancient Hindus.

It was in the year 1845 that I first copied at Berlin the text of this Upanishad, the commentary of Sankara (MS. 127 Chambers 1), and the gloss of Gopâlayogin (MS. 224 Chambers). The text and commentary of Sankara and the gloss of Ânandagiri have since been edited by Dr. Roer in the Bibliotheca Indica, with translation and notes. There are other translations, more or less perfect, by Râmmohun Roy, Windischmann, Poley, Weber, Muir, Regnaud, Gough, and others. But there still remained many difficult and obscure portions, and I hope that in some at least of the passages where I differ from my predecessors, not excepting Sankara, I may have succeeded in rendering the original meaning of the author more intelligible than it has hitherto been.

The text of the Katha-upanishad is in some MSS. ascribed to the Yagur-veda. In the Chambers MS. of the commentary also it is said to belong to that Veda 2, and in the Muktikopanishad it stands first among the Upanishads of the Black Yagur-veda. According to Colebrooke (Miscellaneous Essays, 1, 96, note) it is referred to the Sâma-veda also. Generally, however, it is counted as one of the Âtharvana Upanishads.

The reason why it is ascribed to the Yagur-veda, is probably because the legend of Nakiketas occurs in the Brâhmana of the Taittirîya Yagur-veda. Here we read (III, 1, 8):

gasravasa, wishing for rewards, sacrificed all his wealth. He had a son, called Nakiketas. While he was still a boy, faith entered into him at the time when the cows that were to be given (by his father) as presents to the priests, were brought in. He said: ‘Father, to whom wilt thou give me?’ He said so a second and third time. The father turned round and said to him: ‘To Death, I give thee.’

Then a voice said to the young Gautama, as he stood up: ‘He (thy father) said, Go away to the house of Death, I give thee to Death.’ Go therefore to Death when he is not at home, and dwell in his house for three nights without eating. If he should ask thee, ‘Boy, how many nights hast thou been here?’ say, ‘Three.’ When he asks thee, ‘What didst thou eat the first night?’ say, ‘Thy offspring.’ ‘What didst thou eat the second night?’ say, ‘Thy cattle.’ ‘What didst thou eat the third night?’ say, ‘Thy good works.’

He went to Death, while he was away from home, and lie dwelt in his house for three nights without eating. When Death returned, he asked: ‘Boy, how many nights hast thou been here?’ He answered: ‘Three.’ ‘What didst thou eat the first night?’ ‘Thy offspring.’, ‘What didst thou eat the second night?’ ‘Thy cattle.’ ‘What didst thou eat the third night?’ ‘Thy good works.’

Then he said: ‘My respect to thee, O venerable sir! Choose a boon.’

‘May I return living to my father,’ he said.

‘Choose a second boon.’

‘Tell me how my good works may never perish.’

Then he explained to him this Nâkiketa fire (sacrifice), and hence his good works do not perish.

‘Choose a third boon.’

‘Tell me the conquest of death again.’

Then he explained to him this (chief) Nâkiketa fire (sacrifice), and hence he conquered death again 1.

This story, which in the Brâhmana is told in order to explain the name of a certain sacrificial ceremony called Nâkiketa, was used as a peg on which to hang the doctrines of the Upanishad. In its original form it may have constituted one Adhyâya only, and the very fact of its division into two Adhyâyas may show that the compilers of the Upanishad were still aware of its gradual origin. We have no means, however, of determining its original form, nor should we even be justified in maintaining that the first Adhyâya ever existed by itself, and that the second was added at a much later time. Whatever its component elements may have been before it was an Upanishad, when it was an Upanishad it consisted of six Vallîs, neither more nor less.

The name of vallî, lit. creeper, as a subdivision of a Vedic work, is important. It occurs again in the Taittirîya Upanishads. Professor Weber thinks that vallî, creeper, in the sense of chapter, is based on a modern metaphor, and was primarily intended for a creeper, attached to the sâkhâs or branches of the Veda 1. More likely, however, it was used in the same sense as parvan, a joint, a shoot, a branch, i.e. a division.

Various attempts have been made to distinguish the more modern from the more ancient portions of our Upanishad. No doubt there are peculiarities of metre, grammar, language, and thought which indicate the more primitive or the more modern character of certain verses. There are repetitions which offend us, and there are several passages which are clearly taken over from other Upanishads, where they seem to have had their original place. Thirty-five years ago, when I first worked at this Upanishad, I saw no difficulty in re-establishing what I thought the original text of the Upanishad must have been. I now feel that we know so little of the time and the circumstances when these half-prose and half-metrical Upanishads were first put together, that I should hesitate before expunging even the most modern-sounding lines from the original context of these Vedântic essays.

The mention of Dhâtri, creator, for instance (Kath. Up. II, 20), is certainly startling, and seems to have given rise to a very early conjectural emendation. But dhâtri and vidhâtri occur in the hymns of the Rig-veda (X, 82, 2), and in the Upanishads (Maitr. Up. VI, 8); and Dhâtri, as almost a personal deity, is invoked with Pragâpati in Rig-veda X, 184, I. Deva, in the sense of God (Kath. Up. II, 12), is equally strange, but occurs in other Upanishads also (Maitr. Up. VI, 23; Svetâsv. Up. I, 3). Much might be said about setu, bridge (Kath. Up. III, 2; Mund. Up. II, 2, 5), âdarsa, mirror (Kath. Up. VI, 5), as being characteristic of a later age. But setu is not a bridge, in our sense of the word, but rather a wall, a bank, a barrier, and occurs frequently in other Upanishads (Maitr. Up. VII. 7; Khând. Up. VIII, 4; Brih. Up. IV, 4, 22, &c.), while âdarsas, or mirrors, are mentioned in the Brihadâranyaka and the Srauta-sûtras. Till we know something more about the date of the first and the last composition or compilation of the Upanishads, how are we to tell what subjects and what ideas the first author or the last collector was familiar with? To attempt the impossible may seem courageous, but it is hardly scholarlike.

With regard to faulty or irregular readings, we can never know whether they are due to the original composers, the compilers, the repeaters, or lastly the writers of the Upanishads. It is easy to say that adresya (Mund. Up. I, 1, 6) ought to be adrisya; but who would venture to correct that form? Whenever that verse is quoted, it is quoted with adresya, not adrisya. The commentators themselves tell us sometimes that certain forms are either Vedic or due to carelessness (pramâdapâtha); but that very fact shows that such a form, for instance, as samîyâta (Khând. Up. I, 12, 3) rests on an old authority.

No doubt, if we have the original text of an author, and can prove that his text was corrupted by later compilers or copyists or printers, we have a right to remove those later alterations, whether they be improvements or corruptions. But where, as in our case, we can never hope to gain access to original documents, and where we can only hope, by pointing out what is clearly more modem than the rest or, it may be, faulty, to gain an approximate conception of what the original composer may have had in his mind, before handing his composition over to the safe keeping of oral tradition, it is almost a duty to discourage, as much as lies in our power, the work of reconstructing an old text by so-called conjectural emendations or critical omissions.

I have little doubt, for instance, that the three verses 16-18 in the first Vallî of the Katha-upanishad are later additions, but I should not therefore venture to remove them. Death had granted three boons to Nakiketas, and no more. In a later portion, however, of the Upanishad (II, 3), the expression srinkâ vittamayî occurs, which I have translated by ‘the road which leads to wealth.’ As it is said that Nakiketas did not choose that srinkâ, some reader must have supposed that a srinkâ was offered him by Death. Srinkâ, however, meant commonly a string or necklace, and hence arose the idea that Death must have offered a necklace as an additional gift to Nakiketas. Besides this, there was another honour done to Nakiketas by Mrityu, namely, his allowing the sacrifice which he had taught him, to be called by his name. This also, it was supposed, ought to have been distinctly mentioned before, and hence the insertion of the three verses 16-18. They are clumsily put in, for after punar evâha, ‘he said again,’ verse 16 ought not to have commenced by tam abravît, ‘he said to him.’ They contain nothing new, for the fact that the sacrifice is to be called after Nakiketas was sufficiently indicated by verse 19, ‘This, O Nakiketas, is thy fire which leads to heaven, which thou hast chosen as thy second boon.’ But so anxious was the interpolator to impress upon his hearers the fact that the sacrifice should in future go by that name, that, in spite of the metre, he inserted tavaiva, ‘of thee alone,’ in verse 19.



THIS is an Upanishad of the Atharva-veda. It is a Mantra-upanishad, i.e. it has the form of a Mantra. But, as the commentators observe, though it is written in verse, it is not, like other Mantras, to be used for sacrificial purposes. Its only object is to teach the highest knowledge, the knowledge of Brahman, which cannot be obtained either by sacrifices or by worship (upâsana), but by such teaching only as is imparted in the Upanishad. A man may a hundred times restrain his breath, &c., but without the Upanishad his ignorance does not cease. Nor is it right to continue for ever in the performance of sacrificial and other good works, if one wishes to obtain the highest knowledge of Brahman. The Sannyâsin alone, who has given up everything, is qualified to know and to become Brahman. And though it might seem from Vedic legends that Grihasthas also who continued to live with their families, performing all the duties required of them by law, had been in possession of the highest knowledge, this, we are told, is a mistake. Works and knowledge can be as little together as darkness and light.

This Upanishad too has been often translated since it first appeared in the Persian translation of Dârâ Shukoh. My own copy of the text and Sankara’s commentary from the MS. in the Chambers Collection was made in October 1844. Both are now best accessible in the Bibliotheca Indica, where Dr. Roer has published the text, the commentary by Sankara, a gloss by Ânandaâna, and an English translation with notes.

The title of the Upanishad, Mundaka, has not yet been explained. The Upanishad is called Mundaka-upanishad, and its three chapters are each called Mundakam. Native commentators explain it as the shaving Upanishad, that is, as the Upanishad which cuts off the errors of the mind, like a razor. Another Upanishad also is called Kshurikâ, the razor, a name which is explained in the text itself as meaning an instrument for removing illusion and error. The title is all the more strange because Mundaka, in its commonest acceptation, is used as a term of reproach for Buddhist mendicants, who are called ‘Shavelings,’ in opposition to the Brâhmans, who dress their hair carefully, and often display by its peculiar arrangement either their family or their rank. Many doctrines of the Upanishads are, no doubt, pure Buddhism, or rather Buddhism is on many points the consistent carrying out of the principles laid down in the Upanishads. Yet, for that very reason, it seems impossible that this should be the origin of the name, unless we suppose that it was the work of a man who was, in one sense, a Mundaka, and yet faithful to the Brahmanic law.



THE Taittirîyaka-upanishad seems to have had its original place in the Taittirîya-Âranyaka. This Âranyaka consists, as Rajendralal Mitra has shown in the Introduction to his edition of the work in the Bibliotheca Indica, of three portions. Out of its ten Prapâthakas, the first six form the Âranyaka proper, or the Karma-kânda, as Sâyana writes. Then follow Prapâthakas VII, VIII, and IX, forming the Taittirîyaka-upanishad; and lastly, the tenth Prapâthaka, the Yâikî or Mahânârâyana-upanishad, which is called a Khila, and was therefore considered by the Brâhmans themselves as a later and supplementary work.

Sankara, in his commentary on the Taittirîyaka-upanishad, divides his work into three Adhyâyas, and calls the first Sikshâ-vallî, the second the Brahmânanda-vallî, while he gives no special name to the Upanishad explained in the third Adhyâya. This, however, may be due to a mere accident, for whenever the division of the Taittirîyaka-upanishad into Vallîs is mentioned, we always have three, the Sikshâ-vallî, the Brahmânanda-vallî, and the Bhrigu-vallî 1. Properly, however, it is only the second Anuvâka of the seventh Prapâthaka which deserves and receives in the text itself the name of Sikshâdhyâya, while the rest of the first Vallî ought to go by the name of Samhitâ-upanishad 2, or Sâmhitî-upanishad.

Sâyana, in his commentary on the Taittirîya-âranyaka, explains the seventh chapter, the Sikshâdhyâya (twelve anuvâkas), as Sâmhitî-upanishad. His commentary, however, is called Sikshâ-bhâshya. The same Sâyana treats the eighth and ninth Prapâthakas as the Vâruny-upanishad.

The Ânanda-vallî and Bhrigu-vallî are quoted among the Upanishads of the Âtharvana.

At the end of each Vallî there is an index of the Anuvâkas which it contains. That at the end of the first Vallî is intelligible. It gives the Pratîkas, i.e. the initial words, of each Anuvâka, and states their number as twelve. At the end of the first Anuvâka, we have the final words ‘satyam vadishyâmi,’ and pañka ka, i.e. five short paragraphs at the end. At the end of the second Anuvâka, where we expect the final words, we have the initial, i.e. sîkshâm, and then pañka, i.e. five sections in the Anuvâka. At the end of the third Anuvâka, we have the final words, but no number of sections. At the end of the fourth Anuvâka, we have the final words of the three sections, followed by one paragraph; at the end of the fifth Anuvâka, three final words, and two paragraphs, though the first paragraph belongs clearly to the third section. In the sixth Anuvâka, we have the final words of the two Anuvâkas, and one paragraph. In the seventh Anuvâka, there is the final wordsarvam, and one paragraph added. In the eighth Anuvâka, we have the initial word, and the number of sections, viz. ten. In the ninth Anuvâka, there are the final words of one section, and six paragraphs. In the tenth Anuvâka, there is the initial word, and the number of paragraphs, viz. six. In the eleventh Anuvâka, we have the final words of four sections, and seven paragraphs, the first again forming an integral portion of the last section. The twelfth Anuvâka has one section, and five paragraphs. If five, then the sânti would here have to be included, while, from what is said afterwards, it is clear that as the first word of the Vallî is sam nah, so the last is vaktâram.

In the second Vallî the index to each Anuvâka is given at the end of the Vallî.

1st Anuvâka: pratîka: brahmavid, and some other catchwords, idam, ayam, idam. Number of sections, 21.
2nd Anuvâka: pratîka: annâd, and other catchwords; last word, pukkha. Sections, 26.
3rd Anuvâka: pratîka: prânam, and other catchwords; last word, pukkha. Sections, 22.
4th Anuvâka: pratîka: yatah, and other catchwords; last word, pukkha. Sections, 18.
5th Anuvâka: pratîka: vianam, and other catchwords; last word, pukkha. Sections, 22.
6th Anuvâka: pratîka: asanneva, then atha (deest in Taitt. Âr. 7). Sections, 28.
7th Anuvâka: pratîka: asat. Sections, 16.
8th Anuvâka: pratîka: bhîshâsmât, and other catchwords; last word, upasankrâmati. Sections, 51.
9th Anuvâka: pratîka: yatah–kutaskana; then tam (deest in Taitt. Ar.). Sections, 11.
In the third Vallî the Anukramanî stands at the end.
1. The first word, bhriguh, and some other catchwords. Sections, 13.
2. The first word, annam. Sections, 12
3. The first word, prânam. Sections, 12.
4. The first word, manah. Sections, 12.
5. The first word, viânam, and some other words. Sections, 12.
6. The first word, ânanda, and some other words. Sections, 10.
7. The first words, annam na nindyât, prânah, sarîram. Sections, 11.
8. The first words, annam na parikakshîta, âpo gyotih. Sections, 11.
9. The first words, annam bahu kurvîta prithivîm âkâsa. Sections, 11.
10. The first words, na kañkana. Sections 61. The last words of each section are given for the tenth Anuvâka.



THIS Upanishad has been so often edited and discussed that it calls for no special remarks. It forms part of the Satapatha-brâhmana. In the Mâdhyandina-sâkhâ of that Brâhmana, which has been edited by Professor Weber, the Upanishad, consisting of six adhyâyas, begins with the fourth adhyâya (or third prapâthaka) of the fourteenth book.

There is a commentary on the Brihadâranyaka-upanishad by Dvivedasrînârâyanasûnu Dvivedaganga, which has been carefully edited by Weber in his great edition of the Satapatha-brâhmana from a MS. in the Bodleian Library, formerly belonging to Dr. Mill, in which the Upanishad is called Mâdhyandinîya-brâhmana-upanishad.

In the Kânva-sâkhâ the Brihadâranyaka-upanishad forms the seventeenth book of the Satapatha-brâhmana, consisting of six adhyâyas.

As Sankara’s commentary and the gloss of Ânandatîrtha, edited by Dr. Roer in the Bibliotheca Indica, follow the Kânva-sâkhâ, I have followed the same text in my translation.

Besides Dr. Roer’s edition of the text, commentary and gloss of this Upanishad, there is Poley’s edition of the text. There is also a translation of it by Dr. Roer, with large extracts from Sankara’s commentary.



THE Svetâsvatara-upanishad has been handed down as one of the thirty-three Upanishads of the Taittirîyas, and though this has been doubted, no real argument has ever been brought forward to invalidate the tradition which represents it as belonging to the Taittirîya or Black Yagur-veda.

It is sometimes called Svetâsvatarânâm Mantropanishad (p. 274), and is frequently spoken of in the plural, as Svetâsvataropanishadah. At the end of the last Adhyâya we read that Svetâsvatara told it to the best among the hermits, and that it should be kept secret, and not be taught to any one except to a son or a regular pupil. It is also called Svetâsva, though, it would seem, for the sake of the metre only. The Svetâsvataras are mentioned as a Sâkha, subordinate to the Karakas; but of the literature belonging to them in particular, nothing is ever mentioned beyond this Upanishad.

Svetâsvatara means a white mule, and as mules were known and prized in India from the earliest times, Svetâsvatara, as the name of a person, is no more startling than Svetâsva, white horse, an epithet of Arguna. Now as no one would be likely to conclude from the name of one of the celebrated Vedic Rishis, Syâvâsva, i.e. black horse, that negro influences might be discovered in his hymns, it is hardly necessary to say that all speculations as to Christian influences, or the teaching of white Syro-Christian missionaries, being indicated by the name of Svetâsvatara, are groundless.

The Svetâsvatara-upanishad holds a very high rank among the Upanishads. Though we cannot say that it is quoted by name by Bâdarâyana in the Vedânta-sûtras, it is distinctly referred to as sruta or revealed. It is one of the twelve Upanishads chosen by Vidyâranya in his Sarvopanishad-arthânabhûtiprakâsa, and it was singled out by Sankara as worthy of a special commentary.

The Svetâsvatara-upanishad seems to me one of the most difficult, and at the same time one of the most interesting works of its kind. Whether on that and on other grounds it should be assigned to a more ancient or to a more modern period is what, in the present state of our knowledge, or, to be honest, of our ignorance of minute chronology during the Vedic period, no true scholar would venture to assert. We must be satisfied to know that, as a class, the Upanishads are presupposed by the Kalpa-sûtras, that some of them, called Mantra-upanishads, form part of the more modern Samhitâs, and that there are portions even in the Rig-veda-samhitâ for which the name of Upanishad is claimed by the Anukramanîs. We find them most frequent, however, during the Brâhmana-period, in the Brâhmanas themselves, and, more especially, in those portions which are called Âranyakas, while a large number of them is referred to the Atharva-veda. That, in imitation of older Upanishads, similar treatises were composed to a comparatively recent time, has, of course, long been known.

But when we approach the question whether among the ancient and genuine Upanishads one may be older than the other, we find that, though we may guess much, we can prove nothing. The Upanishads belonged to Parishads or settlements spread all over India. There is a stock of ideas, even of expressions, common to most of them. Yet, the ideas collected in the Upanishads cannot all have grown tip in one and the same place, still less in regular succession. They must have had an independent growth, determined by individual and local influences, and opinions which in one village might seem far advanced, would in another be looked upon as behind the world. We may admire the ingeniousness of those who sometimes in this, sometimes in that peculiarity see a clear indication of the modern date of an Upanishad, but to a conscientious scholar such arguments are really distasteful for the very sake of their ingeniousness. He knows that they will convince many who do not know the real difficulties; he knows they will have to be got out of the way with no small trouble, and he knows that, even if they should prove true in the end, they will require very different support from what they have hitherto received, before they can be admitted to the narrow circle of scientific facts.

While fully admitting therefore that the Svetâsvatara-upanishad has its peculiar features and its peculiar difficulties, I must most strongly maintain that no argument that has as yet been brought forward, seems to me to prove, in any sense of the word, its modern character.

It has been said, for instance, that the Svetâsvatara-upanishad is a sectarian Upanishad, because, when speaking of the Highest Self or the Highest Brahman, it applies such names to him as Hara (I, 10), Rudra (II, 17; III, 2; 4; IV, 12; 21; 22), Siva (III, 14; IV, 10), Bhagavat (III, 14), Agni, Âditya, Vâyu, &c. (IV, 2). But here it is simply taken for granted that the idea of the Highest Self was developed first, and, after it had reached its highest purity, was lowered again by an identification with mythological and personal deities. The questions whether the conception of the Highest Self was formed once and once only, whether it was formed after all the personal and mythological deities had first been merged into one Lord (Pragâpati), or whether it was discovered behind the veil of any other name in the mythological pantheon of the past, have never been mooted. Why should not an ancient Rishi have said: What we have hitherto called Rudra, and what we worship as Agni, or Siva, is in reality the Highest Self, thus leaving much of the ancient mythological phraseology to be used with a new meaning? Why should we at once conclude that late sectarian worshippers of mythological gods replaced again the Highest Self, after their fathers had discovered it, by their own sectarian names? If we adopt the former view, the Upanishads, which still show these rudera of the ancient temples, would have to be considered as more primitive even than those in which the idea of the Brahman or the Highest Self has reached its utmost purity.

It has been considered a very strong argument in support of the modern and sectarian character of the Svetâsvatara-upanishad, that ‘it inculcates what is called Bhakti, or implicit reliance on the favour of the deity worshipped.’ Now it is quite true that this Upanishad possesses a very distinct character of its own, by the stress which it lays on the personal, and sometimes almost mythical character of the Supreme Spirit; but, so far from inculcating bhakti, in the modern sense of the word, it never mentions that word, except in the very last verse, a verse which, if necessary, certain critics would soon dispose of as a palpable addition. But that verse says no more than this: ‘If these truths (of the Upanishad) have been told to a high-minded man, who feels the highest devotion for God, and for his Guru as for God, then they will shine forth indeed.’ Does that prove the existence of Bhakti as we find it in the Sândilya-sûtras?

Again, it has been said that the Svetâsvatara-upanishad is sectarian in a philosophical sense, that it is in fact an Upanishad of the Sânkhya system of philosophy, and not of the Vedânta. Now I am quite willing to admit that, in its origin, the Vedânta philosophy is nearer to the Vedic literature than any other of the six systems of philosophy, and that if we really found doctrines, peculiar to the Sânkhya, and opposed to the Vedânta, in the Svetâsvatara-upanishad, we might feel inclined to assign to our Upanishad a later date. But where is the proof of this?

No doubt there are expressions in this Upanishad which remind us of technical terms used at a later time in the Sânkhya system of philosophy, but of Sânkhya doctrines, which I had myself formerly suspected in this Upanishad, I can on closer study find very little. I think it was Mr. Gough who, in his Philosophy of the Upanishads, for the first time made it quite clear that the teaching of our Upanishad is, in the main, the same as that of the other Upanishads. ‘The Svetâsvatara-upanishad teaches,’ as he says, ‘the unity of souls in the one and only Self; the unreality of the world as a series of figments of the self-feigning world-fiction; and as the first of the fictitious emanations, the existence of the Demiurgos or universal soul present in every individual soul, the deity that projects the world out of himself, that the migrating souls may find the recompense of their works in former lives.’

I do not quite agree with this view of the Îsvara, whom Mr. Gough calls the Demiurgos, but he seems to me perfectly right when he says that the Svetâsvatara-upanishad propounds in Sânkhya terms the very principles that the Sânkhya philosophers make it their business to subvert. One might doubt as to the propriety of calling certain terms ‘Sânkhya terms’ in a work written at a time when a Sânkhya philosophy, such as we know it as a system, had as yet no existence, and when the very name Sânkhya meant something quite different from the Sânkhya system of Kapila. Sânkhya is derived from sankhyâ, and that meant counting, number, name, corresponding very nearly to the Greek λόγος. Sânkhya, as derived from it, meant originally no more than theoretic philosophy, as opposed to yoga, which meant originally practical religious exercises and penances, to restrain the passions and the senses in general. All other interpretations of these words, when they had become technical names, are of later date.

But even in their later forms, whatever we may think of the coincidences and differences between the Sânkhya and Vedânta systems of philosophy, there is one point on which they are diametrically opposed. Whatever else the Sânkhya may be, it is dualistic; whatever else the Vedânta may be, it is monistic. In the Sânkhya, nature, or whatever else we may call it, is independent of the purusha; in the Vedânta it is not. Now the Svetâsvatara-upanishad states distinctly that nature, or what in the Sânkhya philosophy is intended by Pradhâna, is not an independent power, but a power (sakti) forming the very self of the Deva. ‘Sages,’ we read, ‘devoted to meditation and concentration, have seen the power belonging to God himself, hidden in its own qualities.’

What is really peculiar in the Svetâsvatara-upanishad is the strong stress which it lays on the personality of the Lord, the Îsvara, Deva, in the passage quoted, is perhaps the nearest approach to our own idea of a personal God, though without the background which the Vedânta always retains for it. It is God as creator and ruler of the world, as îsvara, lord, but not as Paramâtman, or the Highest Self. The Paramâtman constitutes, no doubt, his real essence, but creation and creator have a phenomenal character only. The creation is mâyâ, in its original sense of work, then of phenomenal work, then of illusion. The creator is mâyin, in its original sense of worker or maker, but again, in that character, phenomenal only. The Gunas or qualities arise, according to the Vedânta, from prakriti or mâyâ, within, not beside, the Highest Self, and this is the very idea which is here expressed by ‘the Self-power of God, hidden in the gunas or determining qualities.’ How easily that sakti or power may become an independent being, as Mâyâ, we see in such verses as:

Sarvabhûteshu sarvâtman yâ saktir aparâbhavâ
Gunâsrayâ namas tasyai sasvatâyai paresvara.

But the important point is this, that in the Svetâsvatara-upanishad this change has not taken place. Throughout the whole of it we have one Being only, as the cause of everything, never two. Whatever Sânkhya philosophers of a later date may have imagined that they could discover in that Upanishad in support of their theories, there is not one passage in it which, if rightly interpreted, not by itself, but in connection with the whole text, could be quoted in support of a dualistic philosophy such as the Sânkhya, as a system, decidedly is.

If we want to understand, what seems at first sight contradictory, the existence of a God, a Lord, a Creator, a Ruler, and at the same time the existence of the super-personal Brahman, we must remember that the orthodox view of the Vedânta 1 is not what we should call Evolution, but Illusion. Evolution of the Brahman, or Parinâma, is heterodox, illusion or Vivarta is orthodox Vedânta. Brahman is a concept involving such complete perfection that with it evolution, or a tendency towards higher perfection, is impossible. If therefore there is change, that change can only be illusion, and can never claim the same reality as Brahman. To put it metaphorically, the world, according to the orthodox Vedântin, does not proceed from Brahman as a tree from a germ, but as a mirage from the rays of the sun. The world is, as we express it, phenomenal only, but whatever objective reality there is in it, is Brahman, ‘das Ding an sich,’ as Kant might call it.

Then what is Îsvara, or Deva, the Lord or God? The answers given to this question are not very explicit. Historically, no doubt, the idea of the Îsvara, the personal God, the creator and ruler, the omniscient and omnipotent, existed before the idea of the absolute Brahman, and after the idea of the Brahman had been elaborated, the difficulty of effecting a compromise between the two ideas, had to be overcome. Îsvara, the Lord, is Brahman, for what else could he be? But he is Brahman under a semblance, the semblance, namely, of a personal creating and governing God. He is not created, but is the creator, an office too low, it was supposed, for Brahman. The power which enabled Îsvara to create, was a power within him, not independent of him, whether we call it Devâtmasakti, Mâyâ, or Prakriti. That power is really inconceivable, and it has assumed such different forms in the mind of different Vedântists, that in the end Mâyâ herself is represented as the creating power, nay, as having created Îsvara himself. In our Upanishad, however, Îsvara is the creator, and though, philosophically speaking, we should say that be was conceived as phenomenal, yet we must never forget that the phenomenal is the form of the real, and Îsvara therefore an aspect of Brahman. ‘This God,’ says Pramâda Dâsa Mitra, ‘is the spirit conscious of the universe. Whilst an extremely limited portion, and that only of the material universe, enters into my consciousness, the whole of the conscious universe, together, of course, with the material one that hangs upon it, enters into the consciousness of God.’ And again, ‘Whilst we (the gîvâtmans) are subject to Mâyâ, Mâyâ is subject to Îsvara. If we truly know Îsvara, we know him as Brahman; if we truly know ourselves, we know ourselves as Brahman. This being so, we must not be surprised if sometimes we find Îsvara sharply distinguished from Brahman, whilst at other times Îsvara, and Brahman are interchanged.’

Another argument in support of the sectarian character of the Svetâsvatara-upanishad is brought forward, not by European students only, but by native scholars, namely, that the very name of Kapila, the reputed founder of the Sânkhya philosophy, occurs in it. Now it is quite true that if we read the second verse of the fifth Adhyâya by itself, the occurrence of the word Kapila may seem startling. But if we read it in connection with what precedes and follows, we shall see hardly anything unusual in it. It says:

‘It is he who, being one only, rules over every germ (cause), over all forms, and over all germs; it is he who, in the beginning, bears in his thoughts the wise son, the fiery, whom he wished to look on while he was born.’

Now it is quite clear to me that the subject in this verse is the same as in IV, II, where the same words are used, and where yo yonim yonim adhitishthaty ekah refers clearly to Brahman. It is equally clear that the prasûta, the son, the offspring of Brahman, in the Vedânta sense, can only be the same person who is elsewhere called Hiranyagarbha, the personified Brahman. Thus we read before, III, 4, ‘He the creator and supporter of the gods, Rudra, the great seer (maharshi), the lord of all, formerly gave birth to Hiranyagarbha;’ and in IV, 11, we have the very expression which is used here, namely, ‘that he saw Hiranyagarbha being born.’ Unfortunately, a new adjective is applied in our verse to Hiranyagarbha, namely, kapila, and this has called forth interpretations totally at variance with the general tenor of the Upanishad. If, instead of kapilam, reddish, fiery, any other epithet had been used of Hiranyagarbha, no one, I believe, would have hesitated for a moment to recognise the fact that our text simply repeats the description of Hiranyagarbha in his relation to Brahman, for the other epithet rishim, like maharshim, is too often applied to Brahman himself and to Hiranyagarbha to require any explanation.

But it is a well known fact that the Hindus, even as early as the Brâhmana-period, were fond of tracing their various branches of knowledge back to Brahman or to Brahman Svayambhû and then through Pragâpati, who even in the Rig-veda (X, 121, 10) replaces Hiranyagarbha, and sometimes through the Devas, such as Mrityu, Vâyu, Indra, Agni, &c., to the various ancestors of their ancient families.

In the beginning of the Mundakopanishad we are told that Brahman told it to Atharvan, Atharvan to Angir, Angir to Satyavâha Bhâradvâga, Bhâradvâga to Angiras, Angiras to Saunaka. Manu, the ancient lawgiver, is called both Hairanyagarbha and Svâyambhuva, as descended from Svâyambhu or from Hiranyagarbha. Nothing therefore was more natural than that the same tendency should have led some one to assign the authorship of a great philosophical system like the Sânkhya to Hiranyagarbha, if not to Brahman Svayambhû. And if the name of Hiranyagarbha had been used already for the ancestors of other sages, and the inspirers of other systems, what could be more natural than that another name of the same Hiranyagarbha should be chosen, such as Kapila. If we are told that Kapila handed his knowledge to Âsuri, Âsuri to Pañkasikha, this again is in perfect keeping with the character of literary tradition in India. Âsuri occurs in the Vamsas of the Satapatha-brâhmana (see above, pp. 187, 226); Pañkasikha 1, having five tufts, might be either a general name or a proper name of an ascetic, Buddhist or otherwise. He is quoted in the Sânkhya-sûtras, V, 32; VI, 68.

But after all this was settled, after Kapila had been accepted, like Hiranyagarbha, as the founder of a great system of philosophy, there came a reaction. People had now learnt to believe in a real Kapila, and when looking out for credentials for him, they found them wherever the word Kapila occurred in old writings. The question whether there ever was a real historical person who took the name of Kapila and taught the Sânkhya-sûtras, does not concern us here. I see no evidence for it. What is instructive is this, that our very passage, which may have suggested at first the name of Kapila, as distinct from Hiranyagarbha, Kapila, was later on appealed to to prove the primordial existence of a Kapila, the founder of the Sânkhya philosophy. However, it requires but a very slight acquaintance with Sanskrit literature and very little reflection in order to see that the author of our verse could never have dreamt of elevating a certain Kapila, known to him as a great philosopher, if there ever was such a man, to a divine rank 2. Hiranyagarbha kapila may have given birth to Kapila, the hero of the Sânkhya philosophers, but Kapila, a real human person, was never changed into Hiranyagarbha kapila.

Let us see now what the commentators say. Sankara first explains kapilam by kanakam 3 kapilavarnam . . . . Hiranyagarbham. Kapilo ‘graga iti purânavakanât. Kapilo Hiranyagarbho vâ nirdisyate. But he afterwards quotes some verses in support of the theory that Kapila was a Paramarshi, a portion of Vishnu, intended to destroy error in the Krita Yuga, a teacher of the Sânkhya philosophy.

Vigñânâtman explains the verse rightly, and without any reference to Kapila, the Sânkhya teacher.

Sankarânanda goes a step further, and being evidently fully aware of the misuse that had been made of this passage, even in certain passages of the Mahâbhârata (XII, 13254, 13703), and elsewhere, declares distinctly that kapila cannot be meant for the teacher of the Sânkhya (na tu sânkhyapranetâ kapilah, nâmamâtrasâmyena tadgrahane syâd atiprasangah). He is fully aware of the true interpretation, viz. avyâkritasya prathamakâryabhûtam kapilam vikitravarnam ânakriyâsaktyâtmakam Hiranyagarbham ityarthah, but he yields to another temptation, and seems to prefer another view which makes Kapila Vâsudevasyâvatârabûtam Sagaraputrânâm dagdhâram, an Avatâra of Vâsudeva, the burner of the sons of Sagara. What vast conclusions may be drawn from no facts, may be seen in Weber’s Indische Studien, vol. i, p. 430, and even in his History of Indian Literature, published in 1878.

Far more difficult to explain than these supposed allusions to the authors and to the teaching of the Sânkhya philosophy are the frequent references in the Svetâsvatara-upanishad to definite numbers, which are supposed to point to certain classes of subjects as arranged in the Sânkhya and other systems of philosophy. The Sânkhya philosophy is fond of counting and arranging, and its very name is sometimes supposed to have been chosen because it numbers (sankhyâ) the subjects of which it treats. It is certainly true that if we meet, as we do in the Svetâsvatara-upanishad, with classes of things 1, numbered as one, two, three, five, eight, sixteen, twenty, forty-eight, fifty and more, and if some of these numbers agree with those recognised in the later Sânkhya and Yoga systems, we feel doubtful as to whether these coincidences are accidental, or whether, if not accidental, they are due to borrowing on the part of those later systems, or on the part it impossible to come to a decision on this point. Even so early as the hymns of the Rig-veda we meet with these numbers assigned to days and months and seasons, rivers and countries, sacrifices and deities. They clearly prove the existence of a considerable amount of intellectual labour which had become fixed and traditional before the composition of certain hymns, and they prove the same in the case of certain Upanishads. But beyond this, for the present, I should not like to go; and I must say that the attempts of most of the Indian commentators at explaining such numbers by a reference to later systems of philosophy or cosmology, are generally very forced and unsatisfactory.

One more point I ought to mention as indicating the age of the Svetâsvatara-upanishad, and that is the obscurity of many of its verses, which may be due to a corruption of the text, and the number of various readings, recognised as such, by the commentators. Some of them have been mentioned in the notes to my translation.

The text of this Upanishad was printed by Dr. Roer in the Bibliotheca Indica, with Sankara’s commentary. I have consulted besides, the commentary of Viânâtman, the pupil of Paramahamsa-parivrâgakâkârya-srîmag-ânotta-mâkârya, MS. I. O. 1133; and a third commentary, by Sankarânanda, the pupil of Paramahamsa-parivrâgakâkâryânandâtman, MS. I. O. 1878. These were kindly lent me by Dr. Rost, the learned and liberal librarian of the India Office.



THIS Upanishad is called the Praa or Shat-praa-upanishad, and at the end of a chapter we find occasionally iti praaprativakanam, i.e. thus ends the answer to the question. It is ascribed to the Atharva-veda, and occasionally to the Pippalâda-sâkhâ, one of the most important sâkhâs of that Veda. Pippalâda is mentioned in the Upanishad as the name of the principal teacher.

Sankara, in the beginning of his commentary, says:Mantroktasyârthasya vistarânuvâdidam Brâhmanam ârabhyate, which would mean ‘this Brâhmana is commenced as more fully repeating what has been declared in the Mantra.’ This, however, does not, I believe, refer to a Mantra or hymn in the Atharva-veda-samhitâ, but to the Mundaka-upanishad, which, as written in verse, is sometimes spoken of as a Mantra, or Mantropanishad. This is also the opinion of Ânandagiri, who says, I one might think that it was mere repetition (punarukti), if the essence of the Self, which has been explained by the Mantras, were to be taught here again by the Brâhmana.’ For he adds, ‘by the Mantras “Brahma devânâm,” &c.,’ and this is evidently meant for the beginning of the Mundaka-upanishad, ‘Brahmâ devânâm.’ Ânandagiri refers again to the Mundaka in order to show that the Praa is not a mere repetition, and if Sankara calls the beginning of it a Brâhmana, this must be taken in the more general sense of ‘what is not Mantra 1.’ Mantropanishad is a name used of several Upanishads which are written in verse, and some of which, like the Îsâ, have kept their place in the Samhitâs.



IN the case of this Upanishad we must first of all attempt to settle its right title. Professor Cowell, in his edition and translation of it, calls it Maitri or Maitrâyanîya-upanishad, and states that it belongs to the Maitrâyanîya-sâkhâ of the Black Yagur-veda, and that it formed the concluding portion of a lost Brâhmana of that Sâkhâ, being preceded by the sacrificial (karma) portion, which consisted of four books.

In his MSS. the title varied between Maitry-upanishad and Maitrî-sâkhâ-upanishad. A Poona MS. calls it Maitrâyanîya-sâkhâ-upanishad, and a MS. copied for Baron von Eckstein, Maitrâyanîyopanishad. I myself in the Alphabetical List of the Upanishads, published in the journal of the German Oriental Society, called it, No. 104, Maitrâyana or Maitrî-upanishad, i.e. either the Upanishad of the Maitrâyanas, or the Upanishad of Maitrî, the principal teacher.

In a MS. which I received from Dr. Burnell, the title of our Upanishad is Maitrâyanî-brâhmana-upanishad, varying with Maitrâyanî-brâhmana-upanishad, and Srîyagussâkhâyâm Maitrâyanîya-brâhmana-upanishad.

The next question is by what name this Upanishad is quoted by native authorities. Vidyâranya, in his Sarvopanishad-arthânubhûtiprakâsa 1, v. 1, speaks of the Maitrâyanîyanâmnî yâgushî sâkhâ, and he mentions Maitra (not Maitrî) as the author of that Sâkhâ. (vv. 55,150).

In the Muktikâ-upanishad 2 we meet with the name of Maitrâyanî as the twenty-fourth Upanishad, with the name of Maitreyî as the twenty-ninth; and again, in the list of the sixteen Upanishads of the Sâma-veda, we find Maitrâyanî and Maitreyî as the fourth and fifth.

Looking at all this evidence, I think we should come to the conclusion that our Upanishad derives its name from the Sâkhâ of the Maitrâyanas, and may therefore be called Maitrâyana-upanishad or Maitrâyanî Upanishad. Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad seems likewise correct, and Maitrâyani-brâhmana-upanishad, like Kaushîtaki-brâhmana-upanishad and Vâgasaneyi-samhitopanishad, might be defended, if Maitrâyanîn were known as a further derivative of Maitrâyana. If the name is formed from the teacher Maitrî or Maitra, the title of Maitrî-upanishad would also be correct, but I doubt whether Maitrî-upanishad would admit of any grammatical justification 3.

Besides this Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad, however, I possess a MS. of what is called the Maitreyopanishad, sent to me likewise by the late Dr. Burnell. It is very short, and contains no more than the substance of the first Prapâthaka of the Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad. I give the text of it, as far as it can be restored from the one MS. in my possession:

Harih Om. Brihadratho vai nâma râgâ vairâgye putram nidhâpayitvedam asâsvatam manyamânah sarîram vairâgyam upeto ‘ranyam nirgagâma. Sa tatra paramam tapa 1 âdityam udîkshamâna ûrdhvas tishthaty. Ante sahasrasya muner antikam âgagâma 2. Atha Brihadratho brahmavitpravaram munîndram sampûgya stutvâ bahusah pranâmam akarot. So ‘bravîd agnir ivâdhûmakas tegasâ nirdahann ivâtmavid Bhagavâñ khâkâyanya, uttishthottishtha varam vrinîshveti râgânam abravît 3. Sa tasmai punar namaskrityovâka, Bhagavan nâ(ha)mâtmavit tvam tattvavik khusrumo vayam; sa tvam no brûhity etad vratam purastâd asakyam mâ prikkha praam Aikshvâkânyân kâmân vrinîshveti Sâkâyanyah. Sarîrasya sarîre (sic) karanâv abhimrisyamâno râgemâm gâthâm gagâda. 1

Bhagavann, asthikarmasnâyumaggâmâmsasuklasonitasreshmâsrudashikâvinmûtrapittakaphasamghâte durgandhe nihsâre ‘smiñ kharîre kim kâmabhogaih. 2

Kâmakrodhalobhamohabhayavishâdersheshtaviyogânishtasamprayogakshutpipâsâgarâmrityurogasokâdyair abhihate ‘smiñ kharîre kim kâmabhogaih. 3

Sarvam kedam kshayishnu pasyâmo yatheme damsamasakâdayas trinavan 4 nasyata yodbhûtapradhvamsinah. 4

Atha kim etair vâ pare ‘nye dhamartharâs (sic) kakravartinah Sudyumnabhûridyumnakuvalayâsvayauvanâsvavaddhrissvapatih sasabindur hariskandro ‘mbarîsho nanukastvayâtir yayâtir anaranyokshasenâdayo marutabharataprabhritayo râgâno mishato bandhuvargasya mahatîm sriyam tyaktvâsmâl lokâd amum lokam prayânti. 5.

Atha kim etair vâ pare ‘nye gandharvâsurayaksharâkshasabhûtaganapisâkoragrahâdinâm nirodhanam pasyâmah. 6

Atha kim etair vânyanâm soshanam mahârnavânâm sikharinâm prapatanam dhruvasya prakalanam vâtarûnâm nimagganam prithivyâh sthânâpasaranam surânâm. So ‘ham ity etadvidhe ‘smin samsâre kim kâmopabhogair yair evâsritasya sakrid âvartanam drisyata ity uddhartum arhasi tyandodapânabheka ivâham asmin sam Bhagavas tvam gatis tvam no gatir iti. 7

Ayam 1 agnir vaisvânaro yo ‘yam antah purushe yenedam annam pakyate yad idam adyate tasyaisha ghosho bhavati yam etat karnâv apidhâya srinoti, sa yadotkramishyan 2 bhavati nainam ghosham srinoti. 8

Yathâ 3 nirindhano vahnih svayonâv upasâmyati. 9 4

Sa sivah so ‘nte vaisvânaro bhûtvâ sa dagdhvâ sarvâni bhûtâni prithivyapsu pralîyate 5, âpas tegasi lîyante 6, tego vâyau pralîyate 7, vâyur âkâse vilîyate 8, âkâsam indriyeshv, indriyâni tanmâtreshu, tanmâtrâni bhûtâdau vilîyante 9, bhûtâdi mahati vilîyate 10, mahân avyakte vilîyate 11, avyaktam akshare vilîyate 12], aksharam tamasi vilîyate 13, tama ekîbhavati parasmin, parastân na 14 san nâsan na sad ityetan nirvânam anusâsanam iti vedânusâsanam.

We should distinguish therefore between the large Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad and the smaller Maitreyopanishad. The title of Maitreyî-brâhmana has, of course, a totally different origin, and simply means the Brâhmana which tells the story of Maitreyî 15.

As Professor Cowell, in the Preface to his edition and translation of the Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad, has discussed its peculiar character, I have little to add on that subject. I agree with him in thinking that this Upanishad has grown, and contains several accretions. The Sanskrit commentator himself declares the sixth and seventh chapters to be Khilas or supplementary. Possibly the Maitreya-upanishad, as printed above, contains the earliest framework. Then we have traces of various recensions. Professor Cowell (Preface, p. vi) mentions a MS., copied for Baron Eckstein, apparently from a Telugu original, which contains the first five chapters only, numbered as four. The verses given in VI, 34 (p. 177), beginning with ‘atreme slokâ bhavanti, are placed after IV, 3. In my own MS. these verses are inserted at the beginning of the fifth chapter 1. Then follows in Baron Eckstein’s MS. as IV, 5, what is given in the printed text as V, 1, 2 (pp. 69-76). In my own MS., which likewise comes from the South, the Upanishad does not go beyond VI, 8, which is called the sixth chapter and the end of the Upanishad.

We have in fact in our Upanishad the first specimen of that peculiar Indian style, so common in the later fables and stories, which delights in enclosing one story within another. The kernel of our Upanishad is really the dialogue between the Vâlakhilyas and Pragâpati Kratu. This is called by the commentator (see p. 331, note) a Vyâkhyâna, i.e. a fuller explanation of the Sûtra which comes before, and which expresses in the few words, ‘He is the Self, this is the immortal, the fearless, this is Brahman,’ the gist of the whole Upanishad.

This dialogue, or at all events the doctrine which it was meant to illustrate, was communicated by Maitrî (or Maitra) to Sâkâyanya, and by Sâkâyanya to King Brihadratha Aikshvâka, also called Marut (II, 1; VI, 30). This dialogue might seem to come to an end in VI, 29, and likewise the dialogue between Sâkâyanya and Brihadratha; but it is carried on again to the end of VI, 30, and followed afterwards by a number of paragraphs which may probably be considered as later additions.

But though admitting all this, I cannot bring myself to follow Professor Cowell in considering, as he does, even the earlier portion of the Upanishad as dating from a late period, while the latter portions are called by him comparatively modern, on account of frequent Vaishnava quotations. What imparts to this Upanishad, according to my opinion, an exceptionally genuine and ancient character, is the preservation in it of that peculiar Sandhi which, thanks to the labours of Dr. von Schroeder, we now know to be characteristic of the Maitrâyana-sâkhâ. In that Sâkhâ final unaccented as and e are changed into â, if the next word begins with an accented vowel, except a. Before initial a, however, e remains unchanged, and as becomes o, and the initial a is sometimes elided, sometimes not. Some of these rules, it must be remembered, run counter to Pânini, and we may safely conclude therefore that texts in which they are observed, date from the time before Pânini. In some MSS., as, for instance, in my own MS. of the Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad, these rules are not observed, but this makes their strict observation in other MSS. all the more important. Besides, though to Dr. von Schroeder belongs, no doubt, the credit of having, in his edition of the Maitrâyanî Samhitâ, first pointed out these phonetic peculiarities, they were known as such to the commentators, who expressly point out these irregular Sandhis as distinctive of the Maitrâyanî sâkhâ. Thus we read Maitr. Up. II, 3 (p. 18), that tigmategasâ ûrdhvaretaso, instead of tigmategasâ, is evamvidha etakkhâkhâsanketapâthas khândasah sarvatra, i.e. is throughout the Vedic reading indicatory of that particular Sâkhâ, namely the Maitrâyanî.

A still stranger peculiarity of our Sâkhâ is the change of a final t before initial s into ñ. This also occurs in our Upanishad. In VI, 8, we read sñ sarîrâd; in VI, 2 7, yañ sarîrasya. Such a change seems phonetically so unnatural, that the tradition must have been very strong to perpetuate it among the Maitrâyanas.

Now what is important for our purposes is this, that these phonetic peculiarities run through all the seven chapters of our Upanishad. This will be seen from the following list:

I. Final as changed into â before initial vowel 1:

II, 3, tigmategasâ ûrdhvaretaso (Comm. etakkhâkhâsanketapâthas khândasah sarvatra).

II, 5, vibodhâ evam. II, 7, avasthitâ iti.

III, 5, etair abhibhûtâ îti. IV, i, vidyatâ iti.

VI, 4, pranavâ iti; bhâmyâdayâ eko.

VI, 6, âdityâ iti; âhavanîyâ iti; sûryâ iti; ahankârâ iti; vyânâ iti. VI, 7, bhargâ iti.

VI, 7, sannivishtâ iti. VI, 23, devâ onkâro.

VI, 30, prâyâtâ iti. VI, 30, vinirgatâ iti.

II. Final e before initial vowels becomes â. For instance:

I, 4, drisyatâ iti. II, 2, nishpadyatâ iti.

III, 2, âpadyatâ iti. III, 2, pushkarâ iti.

IV, i, vidyatâ iti. VI, 10, bhunktâ iti.

VI, 20, asnutâ iti. VI, 30, ekâ âhur.

Even pragrihya e is changed to â in–

VI, 23, etâ upâsita, i.e. ete uktalakshane brahmanî.

In VI, 31, instead of te etasya, the commentator seems to have read te vâ etasya.

III. Final as before â, u, and au becomes a, and is then contracted. For instance:

I, 4, vanaspatayodbhûta, instead of vanaspataya, udbhûta. (Comm. Sandhis khândaso vâ, ukâro vâtra lupto drashtavyah.)

II, 6, devaushnyam, instead of deva aushnyam. (Comm. Sandhis khândasah.)

VI, 24, atamâvishtam, instead of atama-âvishtam (Comm. Sandhis khândasah); cf. Khând. Up. VI, 8, 3, asanâyeti (Comm. visarganîyalopah).

IV. Final e before i becomes a, and is then contracted. For instance:

VI, 7, âtmâ ganîteti for ganîta iti. (Comm. gânite, gânâti.)

VI, 28, avataiva for avata iva. (Comm. Sandhivriddhî khândase.)

V. Final au before initial vowels becomes â. For instance:

II, 6, yena vâ etâ anugrihîtâ iti.

VI, 22, asâ abhidhyâtâ.

On abhibhûyamânay iva, see p. 295, note 2.

V, 2, asâ âtmâ (var. lect. asâv âtmâ)

VI. Final o of atho produces elision of initial short a. For instance:

III, 2, atho ‘bhibhûatvât. (Comm. Sandhis khândasah.) Various reading, ato ‘bhibhûtatvât.

VI, 1, so antar is explained as sa u.

VII. Other irregularities:

VI, 7, âpo pyâyanât, explained by pyâyanât and âpyâyanât. Might it be, âpo ‘py ayanât?

VI, 7, âtmano tmâ netâ.

II, 6, so tmânam abhidhyâtvâ.

VI, 35, dvidharmondharn for dvidharmândham. (Comm. khândasa.)

VI, 35, tegasendham, i. e. tegasâ-iddhan. (In explaining other irregular compounds, too, as in I, 4, the commentator has recourse to a khândasa or prâmâdika licence.)

VI, 1, hiranyavasthât for hiranyâvasthât. Here the dropping of a in avasthât is explained by a reference to Bhâguri (vashti Bhâgurir allopam avâpyor upasargayoh). See Vopadeva III, 171.

VIII. Vislishtapâtha:

VII, 2, brahmadhîyâlambana. (Comm. vislishtapâthas khândasah.)

VI, 35, apyay ankurâ for apy ankurâ. (Comm. yakârah pramâdapathitah.)

On the contrary VI, 35, vlîyânte for vilîyante.

If on the grounds which we have hitherto. examined there seems good reason to ascribe the Maitrâyana-brâhmana-upanishad to an early rather than to a late period, possibly to an ante-Pâninean period, we shall hardly be persuaded to change this opinion on account of supposed references to Vaishnava or to Bauddha doctrines which some scholars have tried to discover in it.

As to the worship of Vishnu, as one of the many manifestations of the Highest Spirit, we have seen it alluded to in other Upanishads, and we know from the Brâhmanas that the name of Vishnu was connected with many of the earliest Vedic sacrifices. As to Bauddha doctrines, including the very name of Nirvâna (p. xlvi, l. 19), we must remember, as I have often remarked, that there were Bauddhas before Buddha. Brihaspati, who is frequently quoted in later philosophical writings as the author of an heretical philosophy, denying the authority of the Vedas, is mentioned by name in our Upanishad (VII, 9), but we are told that this Brihaspati, having become Sukra, promulgated his erroneous doctrines in order to mislead the Asuras, and thus to insure the safety of Indra, i.e. of the old faith.

The fact that the teacher of King Brihadratha in our Upanishad is called Sâkâyanya, can never be used in support of the idea that, being a descendant of Sâka 1, he must have been, like Sâkyamuni, a teacher of Buddhist doctrines. He is the very opposite in our Upanishad, and warns his hearers against such doctrines as we should identify with the doctrines of Buddha. As I have pointed out on several occasions, the breaking through the law of the Âsramas is the chief complaint which orthodox Brâhmans make against Buddhists and their predecessors, and this is what Sâkâyanya condemns. A Brâhman may become a Sannyâsin, which is much the same as a Buddhist Bhikshu, if he has first passed through the three stages of a student, a householder, and a Vânaprastha. But to become a Bhikshu without that previous discipline, was heresy in the eyes of the Brâhmans, and it was exactly that heresy which the Bauddhas preached and practised. That this social laxity was gaining ground at the time when our Upanishad was written is clear (see VII, 8). We hear of people who wear red dresses (like the Buddhists) without having a right to them; we even hear of books, different from the Vedas, against which the true Brâhmans are warned. All this points to times when what we call Buddhism was in the air, say the sixth century B. C., the very time to which I have always assigned the origin of the genuine and classical Upanishads. The Upanishads are to my mind the germs of Buddhism, while Buddhism is in many respects the doctrine of the Upanishads carried out to its last consequences, and, what is important, employed as the foundation of a new social system. In doctrine the highest goal of the Vedânta, the knowledge of the true Self, is no more than the Buddhist Samyaksambodhi; in practice the Sannyâsin is the Bhikshu, the friar, only emancipated alike from the tedious discipline of the Brâhmanic student, the duties of the Brâhmanic householder, and the yoke of useless penances imposed on the Brâhmanic dweller in the forest. The spiritual freedom of the Sannyâsin becomes in Buddhism the common property of the Sangha, the Fraternity, and that Fraternity is open alike to the young and the old, to the Brâhman and the Sûdra, to the rich and the poor, to the wise and the foolish. In fact there is no break between the India of the Veda and the India of the Tripitaka, but there is an historical continuity between the two, and the connecting link between extremes that seem widely separated must be sought in the Upanishads.


OXFORD, February, 1884.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: