The Svetasvatara Upanishad Chapter 3

Shiva, the Supreme Self

Text and translation by Jayaram V

Summary: greatness of Rudra, Rudra is Iswara, Iswara is the creator, Rudra who witnessed the birth of Hiranyagarbha (the world soul).

1. The one who casts his net, who rules over all the beings with His supreme powers, who rules all the worlds also with His supreme powers, who arises as one and happens to make things possible remaining as one, he who knows Him thus becomes immortal.

2. Rudra indeed is that one, without a second, who rules all these worlds with his supreme powers, who stands in front of all creatures, who protects the worlds He creates, also withdraws them in the end.

The composer of the Upanishad has no doubt now, as to who the Iswara is. He is Rudra only.

3. With eyes everywhere, with faces in every direction, with hands and feet spread every where, with His mighty arms and wings, He forges the earth and heaven together and all the men and the gods.

4. He who is responsible for the existence and origin of all gods, that lord of the universe and great seer, Rudra, who in the past was responsible for the origin of Hiranyagarbha, may He equip us with clear intelligence.

Hiranyagarbha is the cosmic germ, the world soul, the third in the hierarchy, who is identified as Brahma. The followers of Vishnu believe that Brahman was born from His umbilical chord, as they consider Him to be the Supreme Brahman Himself.

5. O Rudra, your auspicious body, which is without terror or evil, with that most peaceful form, dweller of the mountains, show your most benign form to us.

The word "sivam" means most auspicious. Lord Siva is white in color in contrast to Lord Vishnu who is blue in color. The blue color is because of his identification with the firmament which is also blue in color. Siva is also referred to mostly as Girisa. Girisa means lord of the mountains. Siva is believed to be the dweller of mountains. Kailas is His abode, where His devotees assemble after their liberation and sing His glories in union. Siva is also the lord of tamasic nature. The mountains symbolically represent the inert or the tamasic nature of creation. Hence probably the epithet.

6. O dweller of the mountains, make auspicious the arrow which is in your hands when you throw it. O protector of the mountains, do not injure neither man nor beast.

7. Above this is the Supreme Brahman, the greatest one who is hidden in all creatures, according to their bodies, the one who envelops the whole universe, the Lord, by knowing whom one attains immortality.

8. I know the Highest Supreme Purusha, who is of the color of the sun, beyond darkness. By knowing him one goes beyond death. There is no other way by which one can go there.

9. There is nothing that is above Him, nothing that is smaller than Him and nothing that is greater than Him. Like a tree rooted in the heavens, He stands. The whole universe is filled with this one Purusha.

10. That which is beyond this world, is without form and devoid of suffering. Those who know this become immortal. Others are drawn to suffering only.

11. He who is in the faces, heads and necks of all, who is hidden in all beings, who is every where, He is the universal lord, the omnipresent Siva.

Lord Siva is described here as Bhagavan, the lord of the universe having six distinct qualities namely righteousness, fame, prosperity, wisdom and detachment.

12. That Purusha indeed is the highest Lord, the highest in action, the purest state that can ever be achieved by any, the ruler and the imperishable light.

13. The indwelling spirit is Purusha, of the size of a thumb, situated always in the hearts of men. He is the lord of all that the hearts and minds of men can envisage. Those who know that become immortal.

14. The purusha with innumerable heads, eyes and feet, enveloping the earth from all directions, also spread beyond by ten fingers' width.

The Purusha that is described here is the indwelling spirit, the witness, whose aura spreads beyond the body (referred here as the earth) by some distance.

15. That Purusha is indeed all this, that which has been and that which will be. He is the Lord of immortality and of that (mortal life), which grows by means of food.

16. He has a hand and foot every where, an eye, a head and face he has in every direction and a ear in every place. It stands enveloping all.

17. Owner of all the senses, yet without them, the over lord and ruler of all, it is the supreme refuge for all.

18. The inhabitant of the city of nine gates, moving in and out, plays His game in the external world. Controller of the whole world, he is moving, yet stationery.

The city of the nine gates is the body. The soul moves in and out of it as and when it discards an old body and assumes a new one.

19. Without a hand or a foot, yet swiftly moving and grasping, He sees without eyes and hears without ears. He knows all that is to be known, yet none knows Him.

20. Subtler than the subtle, greater than the great is the self hidden in the cave of heart. One who sees him as inert is freed from all sorrow. through His grace, he sees the Lord and His great majesty.

21. I know this undecaying, primeval self, the self of all, moving every where because of His infinity. Speaking of Him thus one can prevent ones rebirth. Those who are well versed in the knowledge of Brahman declare Him as eternal.

End of Chapter III

End of Chapter 3


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