Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V
1.All this is inhabited by God, whatever that moves here in
this moving universe. Therefore by renunciation alone enjoy all
things. Do not covet what belongs to others.
Since the world and every movement within it is
inhabited by God and none else, He is the true owner of the
entire world and every action or movement in it. As the true
inhabitant of the worlds, He alone has the right to enjoy the
things of these worlds and none else. In a world on which we
can make no ownership claim, a world that actually does not
belong to us however rich and powerful we may believe ourselves
to be, amidst things whose ownership or kinship we cannot claim
rightfully as ours, can there be a better way of living other
than renouncing the world and its things and remaining detached
from them ?
Renunciation is not negation of life. It is not
some morose and lifeless experience. We should not renounce
life because of despair or depression arising out of our fears,
frustration or personal failures. True renunciation arises out
of intense longing for the divine, out of a state of mind in
which attachment with the Divine alone makes sense and out of
a sense of freedom and fearlessness that stem from unflinching
faith in God and His supreme will. You do not renounce life
because you do not like it. You renounce life because you love
God intensely and live your life with a sense of gratitude and
self-surrender. The life of renunciation is a carefree life,
utterly devoid of all pretension and seeking and free from the
cares and the struggle that accompany all manners of seeking.
Man has the right to enjoy his life. There is a divine sanction
Life has to be enjoyed, but without seeking, without
coveting, and without struggling to get things done or get things
for oneself. It is the renunciation of seeking and of desiring
things which constitute the central feature of a life of true
Those who renounce life truly, in fact, enjoy
life better than those who do not, because the true sanyasis
are not troubled by the fear of loss or the possibility of gain.
They accept their lot, what comes to them without struggle and
seeking and remain indifferent to what does not come to them
or what has departed from them. In this aspect this particular
verse advocates a philosophy of life that is similar to "the
way" described in Taoism.
2. Always by doing works one should wish to live here for
a hundred years. There is no way other than this by which actions
do not cling to you.
3. Demonic verily are the worlds which are enveloped in blinding
darkness. And to them go, after death, those who harm their inner
In the Bhagavad-Gita
says Lord Krishna that the self is the friend of the self and
the self also is the enemy of the self. In the same scripture
we also come across a detailed description of the
demonic qualities. Those
who harm their inner selves are those who engage in wicked actions
and harmful qualities. This verse is a continuation of the same
argument on karma that started in the first verse.Do we realize
how much harm we do to ourselves each day by our actions and
thoughts and what opportunities we fritter away in search of
things that actually do not help us in our spiritual progress?
4. Unmoving, yet swifter than mind, beyond the reach of the
senses and always ahead of them, standing, it out runs those who
run. In it the all pervading air supports the activity of the beings.
The opposite qualities of life which we cannot
reconcile in our ordinary capacity are perfectly harmonized
and co-exist in the Divine. The unmoving nature of God does
not prevent Him from moving in this world and His movements
and actions are much faster than what we can achieve or conceive
at our level. God is the real doer, actively inactive and inactively
active in the drama of earthly life.
5. It moves and It moves not. It is far and It is near. It
is inside all this and also outside all this.
6. He who sees all beings in his own self and his own self
in all beings does not suffer from any repulsion by that experience.
The whole universe is pervaded by only "I". There
is in reality no "you". The "you" exists in our consciousness
because of the illusion or maya. In the universal consciousness
of a united soul, there is no you, there is no distinction between
the knower and the known, there is no gap between the experience
and the object of experience and there is no awareness of anything
else except oneself.
Every thing happens there simultaneously. It is
an all encompassing and comprehensive experience, without any
effort, without any motive and without any process. Nothing
begins there and nothing ever ends there. There is no time.
There is no action and there is no movement.
Such universal vision that is described in this
verse, which is the ultimate product of our spiritual endeavor,
comes only when one achieves union with the Divine Soul. Likes
and dislikes arise because of the attachment of the mind with
the objects of the world and because of the feelings of separation.
But he who achieves union with God, is no more troubled by the
duality of this and that or of likes and dislikes. For him everything
is himself, the all pervading oneness of the Supreme Self.
7. He who has known that all beings have become one with his
own self, and he who has seen the oneness of existence, what sorrow
and what delusion can overwhelm him?
8. He has occupied all. He is radiant, without body (incorporeal),
without injury, without muscles, pure, untouched by evil. He is
the seer, thinker, all pervading, self-existent, has distributed
various objects, through endless years, each according to it's inherent
9. Into blinding darkness enter those who worship ignorance
and into greater darkness those who worship knowledge alone.
Ignorance is that which is within the field of
prakriti or illusion and knowledge is that which is within the
field of divine consciousness. Worship of ignorance includes
attachment with the material world, pursuit of transient things,
and identification of oneself with the ego-sense. Worship of
knowledge encompasses detachment with the material world, pursuit
of Brahman and identification of oneself with ones inner self.
What is emphasized here is balance in life. One
should stay amidst the world, but pursue Brahman through detachment
and performance of ones ordained duties. The one without the
other leads to suffering only. Renunciation does not mean escape
from the material world. Similarly, while living amidst the
world, performing ones duties one should not forget ones connection
10. Distinct they say is the result of knowledge and distinct
they also say is the result of ignorance. This is what we heard
from the wise who explained these matters to us.
The result of pursuit of knowledge is the vision
of oneness of unity in diversity and liberation, while the result
of ignorance is greater illusion, suffering and bondage.
11. He who knows both knowledge and ignorance together, crosses
death through ignorance and attains immortality through knowledge.
12. Into blinding darkness enter those who worship the unmanifest
and into still greater darkness those who take delight in the manifest.
The manifest can be interpreted variously as the
visible world, the sense-objects, illusion, idols, the body,
Hiranyagarbha, the devas, the elements, the sense organs, material
wealth and so on. The unmanifest is the hidden self, the invisible
ether, the Non-Being, Purusha, Prakriti, imagination and so
13. Different indeed they declare what results from the manifest
and distinct they say what comes out of the unmanifest. This is
what we heard from the wise who explained these truths to us.
14. He who understands both the manifest and the unmanifest
together, crosses death through the unmanifest and attains immortality
through the manifest.
15. Covered with the golden disc is the face of truth. Uncover
it, O Pusan, so that I who love truth may be able to see it.
16. O Pusan, the one seer, O controller, O sun, offspring
of Prajapati, bring out your radiant rays and focus your radiance
so that I may be able to see the auspicious form of yours. Who so
ever person is there beyond, that also I am.
This is the declaration of the ultimate truth,
the utterance that one is indeed God himself that comes of out
the experience of the union of self with God and the experience
that all is one.
17. May this breath merge into the immortal breath. Then may
the body end in ashes. AUM, remember what has been done, O intelligence
remember what has been done, remember, remember.
18. O Agni, O God, the knower of all our deeds, lead us along
the right path to prosperity. Please take away from us our deceitful
sins. Many prayers we offer you.
The last three verses of this Upanishad are part
of Hindu funeral rites, uttered during the cremation ceremonies.
Having come into existence and as long as he is ignorant, for
man there is no escape either from sin or from the consequences
of his actions. This is the tragedy of human life because his
ignorance does not go away just like that.
An invocation to God to forgive the sins and an
appeal to the departing Jiva to remember its past deeds is therefore
the right approach to follow, when a person has departed from
this world. Here the departing soul has been advised to remember
what has been done, not just good deeds but all deeds, because
remembrance of its past deeds, both good and bad, so that it
can learn lessons from them, is a part of its evolutionary process.
Suggested Further Reading