The Paingala Upanishad
Om ! That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. The infinite proceeds from the infinite. (Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), It remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone. Om ! Let there be Peace in me ! Let there be Peace in my environment ! Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !
I-1. Then indeed Paingala approached Yajnavalkya as a disciple, and, having served him for twelve years, said: Instruct me in regard to the supreme mystery of Aloneness.
I-2. The eminent Yajnavalkya replied: Dear one, in the beginning this indeed existed. It was the eternally free, immutable, everlastingly one, secondless Brahman, full of Truth, Knowledge and Bliss.
I-3. In it existed the primordial and indefinable Prakriti, consisting of Gunas in a state of equipoise, red, white and dark, resembling (the existence of) water, silver, a man and outlines (respectively) in the mirage oyster-shell, a stump and a mirror; what was reflected in it was the Witness Consciousness.
I-4. Having been modified, with the preponderance of Sattva, and named Avyakta (the Unmanifest), it (Prakriti) became the power of concealment. What was reflected in it became God Consciousness. He has Maya under His control, is omniscient, is the initial cause of creation, sustenance and dissolution (of the world) and has the form of the sprouting world. He manifests the entire world dissolved in Him. Due to the power of the Karmas of living beings is the (world) spread out like this cloth and due to their exhaustion again is (the world) concealed. In Him alone does the entire world exist as a folded cloth.
I-5.From the power of concealment controlled by God arose the Power of Projection called Mahat. What is reflected in it is the consciousness of Hiranyagarbha. He has the conceit of ownership as regards Mahat and has a body partly manifest and partly unmanifest.
I-6. From the projective power controlled by Hiranyagarbha arose the gross power called the ego, with the preponderance of Tamas. What was reflected in it was the consciousness of Virat. That Virat who has conceit in the Ego, a manifest body, and is the Chief Person, Vishnu is the protector of all gross things. From that Self (Virat) arose ether; from the ether, air; from air, fire; from fire, water; from water, earth. These five root-elements are composed of the three Gunas.
I-7. Desiring to create, that world-Cause (God), controlling the quality of Tamas, sought to render the subtle root- elements gross. He bifurcated each of the extremely limited elements and again made (the halves) four-fold and added each of the five halves to one-eighths of the other four. With those quintuplicated elements he created endless Crores of macrocosms and for each of these fourteen appropriate worlds and globular gross bodies fit for each planes of them all.
I-8. Having divided into four the Rajas part of the five elements he made Prana with its five fold activity from three parts of it. From the fourth part (of rajas) he fashioned the organ of action.
I-9. Having divided into four their Sattva part, out of the combination of three of them, he made the inner organ with its five-fold activity. From the fourth, he made the organs of Cognition.
I-10. From the combination of Sattva he made the guardians of sense-organs. He cast them, having created them into the macrocosm. Due to his command, conjured with the ego, the Virat protected the gross elements (of the cosmos). Commanded by him, Hiranyagarbha protected the subtle ones.
I-11. In the cosmos they could not, without God, pulsate or act. He desired to vivify them. Splitting open the macrocosm, the channels of Brahman, and the crowns of individuals, he entered into them. Though they were inert, like sentient (beings) they performed each its own functions.
I-12. The omniscient Lord, conjoined with a streak of Maya, on entering the individual bodies, and deluded by it, became the Jiva; due to self-identification with the three bodies (he) became both agent and reaper (of action’s fruits). Possessing the attributes of wakefulness, dream, deep sleep, swoon and death, like a chain of buckets (attached to a water wheel) he becomes troubled and as it were is born and dies, revolving like a potter’s wheel.
II- 1. Now Paingala asked Yajnavalkya: How did the omnipotent Lord of all worlds, the author of their manifestation, sustenance and dissolution become Jiva ?
II-2. Yajnavalkya replied: I shall speak distinguishing between the forms of the Jiva and of God, following the generation of the gross, subtle and causal bodies. Listen with exclusive attention. Employing parts of quintuplicated gross elements, the Lord made individual and collective gross, bodies, respectively. Earthy are the skull, skin, intestines, bones, flesh and nails. Watery are the blood, urine, saliva, perspiration and so forth. Fiery are hunger, thirst, heat, lassitude, sexual union, etc. Airy are the movements, the transporting, breathing, etc. Ethereal are lust, anger, etc. The gross body with skin, etc.; is a combination of all this, fashioned through deeds; (it is) the basis of states like childhood, etc., conceit and numerous failings.
II-3. Then he (God) manifested Prana (the Principle of life) from the non-quintuplicated aggregate of the three Rajas parts of the gross elements. The modification of the life principle are the Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana. The subordinate functions of Prana are named Naga, Kurma, Krikara, Devadatta and Dhananjaya. Their bases are the heart, the anus, navel, throat and all the limbs. With the fourth part of the Rajas of Akasa, he manifested the organ of action. Its functions are (performed by) the tongue, the hands, the feet, the anus and the generative organ. The objects of these are speech, grasping, movement, excretion and (sex) enjoyment. Similarly from the aggregate of the three Sattva parts of the elements, he manifested the inner organ. Its functions are the mind, the intellect, thought and the ego. The objects of these are imagination, determination, memory, conceit and investigation. Their bases are the throat, the mouth, the navel, the heart and the junction of the eye-brows. With the fourth part of the Sattva of the elements, he manifested the sense of Cognition. Its functions are the ears, the skin, the eyes, the tongue and the nose. Their objects are sound, touch, form, taste and smell. The overlords of the organs (of perception and action) are the directions, the wind, the sun, Prachetas, Asvins, Fire, Indra, Upendra, Death, the moon, Vishnu, Brahma and Sambhu.
II-4. Now, there are five sheaths, that of food, of vital breaths, of mind, of knowledge and of bliss. The sheath of food comes into being from the essence of food alone, develops by it, and is dissolved in the earth that is predominantly of the nature of food. That alone is the gross body. The five breaths, Prana, etc.; together with the five organs of actions constitute the sheath of vital breaths. The sheath of mind is the mind together with the organs of cognition. The sheath of knowledge is the intellect together with the organs of cognition. These three sheaths constitute the subtle body. The sheath of bliss is the knowledge of one’s essence. This is the causal body.
II-5. The eight-fold city (the total subtle body) consists of the five organs of cognition, the five organs of action, the five breaths, the five elements like ether, etc., the five-fold inner organ, desire, action and Tamas.
II-6. Vishva (is) the self of knowledge, a reflection of sat, the empirical (being), having conceit in the gross body of the waking state. The field of actions (or born of actions) is also a name of Vishva.
II-7. By God’s command, the Sutratman (Hiranyagarbha) entered the subtle body of the individual and supervising the mind became the Taijasa. Taijasa is the appearance. Dream fashioned is a name of Taijasa.
II-8. By God’s command (the Self) with the adjunct of Maya together with the Unmanifest, entering the individual causal body became Prajna. The Prajna is undifferentiated, real, ‘Having conceit-in-deep-sleep’ is the name of Prajna.
II-9. Texts like Tattvamasi declare the identity with Brahman of the real Jiva concealed by ignorance and part of the unmanifest; not of the other two, the empirical and the illusory Jivas (in the waking and dream-state).
II-10. The Consciousness reflected in the inner organ participated in the three states. Merged in the states of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep, like a chain of buckets attached to the water wheel, and afflicted, he (the Jiva) is as it were born and dead.
II-11. Now there are five states – Wakefulness, dream, deep sleep, swoon and death. The wakeful state consists in the cognition of objects like sound, etc.; by means of the organs of cognition like ears, etc.; when aided by the respective (guardian) deities. The Jiva stationed at the junction of the eye-brows and pervading the whole (body) from the foot to the head becomes the agent of all kinds of activities like tilling and heaving. Also the reaper of their respective fruits. Migrating to the other world(s) alone he reaps the fruit of (his) activities. Tired due to activities, like an emperor, he takes to the way leading to the inner chamber (a new body).
II-12. When the instruments of (cognition and action) cease to operate, the dream state comes into being in which there is knowledge of objects and their cognition due to the half-awakened impressions of the waking state. There, Vishva himself, due to the cessation of empirical activities, moving in the system of nerves and becoming Taijasa, enjoys freely the rarity of the world consisting of latent impressions which he illumines with his light.
II-13. The instrument of deep sleep is mind alone. Just as a bird, exhausted by random flights, folds its wings and moves towards its nest, so the Jiva, too, sporting in the spheres of wakefulness and dream and exhausted, plunges into ignorance and enjoys its own bliss.
II-14. The (state of) swoon is like that of death with the sense organs stirring due to fear and unconsciousness when struck with a club, stick, etc., accidentally.
II-15. Different from the states of wakefulness, dream, deep sleep and swoon and occasioning fear to all Jivas from Brahma down to a clump (of grass, etc.,) and resulting in the fall of the body is the state of death.
II-16. Withdrawing the organs of action and cognition and the vital breaths corresponding to varied objects, and attended by desires and actions, and enveloped in ignorance and (the subtle) elements, the Jiva goes to another world. Due to the ripening of the fruits of prior actions, like a worm caught up in a whirl pool (the Jiva) now wins rest.
II-17. As a result of past good deeds, at the end of many lives, men seek liberation. Then resorting to a teacher of Self- realization and (faithfully) serving him long one inquiries into bondage and liberation.
II-18. Bondage results from lack of inquiry; liberation results from inquiry. Therefore investigate at all times. One’s own nature may be determined through superimposition and its repudiation. Therefore always inquire (into the nature of) the individual Self and the supreme Self. When the state of Jiva and that of the world are sublated, Brahman alone, non-different from the inner Self, remains.
III-1-2. Then Paingala said to Yajnavalkya: Set forth the explanation of the major text(s) [Maha-vakyas]. Yajnavalkya replied: Thou art That; Thou That art; Thou Brahman art; I am Brahman – One should meditate thus.
III-3. The expressed sense of the word ‘tat’ is the world-cause, marked by ‘other-ness’ (mediacy), having Being, Consciousness and Bliss as his characteristics, Maya as his adjunct and omniscience, etc., as his features. The very same with awareness mixed up with the inner sense, the object of the I-notion, is the expressed meaning of ‘tvam’. Rejecting the adjuncts of the supreme (God) and the Jiva, viz.: Maya and avidya, the indicated sense of tat and tvam is Brahman, non-different from the inner Self.
III-4. ‘Hearing’ is investigation into the import of propositions like ‘That Thou art’ and ‘I am Brahman’. Reflection is the exclusive dwelling on the content of what has been heard. Meditation is the fixing of the mind one-pointedly on the reality, made doubtless through investigation and reflection. Concentration, resembling a flame in a windless spot, is the thought (chitta) whose content is solely the object meditated, exclusive of the agent, and the act, of meditation.
III-5. Then (mind’s) modifications referring to the Self, though shooting up, remain uncognised; they are only inferred from memory. By this (Samadhi) alone are dissolved Crores of deeds accumulated in the course of beginningless transmigratory existence. Through skilful practice, thence, then, flow, in a thousand ways, streams of nectar.
Therefore, the best knowers of Yoga call (this) Concentration dharmamegha, cloud of virtues. When the meshes of latent impressions are entirely obliterated by virtue of it and the accumulation of deeds, good and evil, pulled up by their roots, the proposition (whose content was) earlier mediated on generates unimpeded and immediate realization (resembling, in its certitude) the gooseberry in the palm (of one’s hand). Then one becomes liberated in life.
III-6. God desired the non-quintuplication of the quintuplicated elements. Leading the effected macrocosm and the worlds included in it to their causal state, unifying the subtle organs of action, vital breaths, organs of cognition and the four-fold inner sense, reducing all elemental (effects) to the five-fold cause, (he) dissolves in (due) order the earth in water, water in fire, fire in air, air in ether, ether in the ego, the ego in the Mahat, the Mahat in the unmanifest and the unmanifest in the Spirit (Purusha). Due to the dissolution of the adjuncts, Virat, Hiranyagarbha and God are dissolved in the supreme Self.
III-7. Having become non-quintuplicated through the attenuation of (the accumulated) deeds and the ripening of good deeds, and one with the subtle (body), returning to the cause and its cause, the gross body generated by deeds done through the quintuplicated gross elements becomes non-quintuplicated and gets dissolved in the immutable inner Self. Vishva, taijasa and Prajna dissolve in the same due to the dissolution of their adjuncts.
III-8. The microcosm consumed in the fire of knowledge together with (its) causes is dissolved in the supreme Self. Therefore the Brahmana should concentratedly dwell on the identity (of the contents) of the terms tat and tvam. Thence, when the clouds are dispelled as the sun (shines forth), the Self is manifested.
III-9-10. Meditating on the Self, of the size of a thumb, in the centre (of the heart ?) like a smokeless flame, meditate on the illumining Self in the centre, immutable and immortal. The silent sage Liberated-in-life, sits meditating till sleep, till death; he is the blessed one who has performed his duty.
III-11. Giving up the status of Liberation-in-life, when one’s body is consumed by time, he reaches the status of disembodied liberation like the wind becoming stirless.
III-12. That immortal and certain (one), devoid of sound, touch, form, taste or smell, without beginning and end, beyond the Mahat, alone remains without impurity and suffering. 1. Then Paingala asked Yajnavalkya: How does a knower (Jnanin) act ? How does he stay in repose ?
IV-2. Yajnavalkya replied: One seeking liberation, having acquired freedom from egotism, etc.; takes 21 generations (of his ancestors and descendants) across the (sea of samsara). The knower of Brahman by himself alone does so 101 generations.
IV-3. Know the Self to be the rider in the chariot; the body verily to be the chariot; the intellect to be the charioteer and the mind to be the reins.
IV-4. The senses, the wise say, are the horses; the objects are what they range over; the hearts are the moving many- storeyed mansions.
IV-5. The great sages aver that the Self combined with sense-organs and mind is the experiencer. Therefore in the heart, immediately, is Narayana well-established.
IV-6. Upto (the exhaustion of) the operative deeds, the homeless liberated Self, behaves like the Slough of a snake, like the moon (in the sky).
IV-7. Shedding the body in a holy spot or (may be) in the home of an eater of dog’s flesh, (the liberated one) attains Isolation.
IV-8. Afterwards, make an offering of his body to the cardinal points or bury (his body). Mendicancy is prescribed for the male, never for the other.
IV-9. No observance of (the period of) pollution, no burning (of the corpse), no offering of rice balls or of water, no fortnightly rites (are laid down) for a mendicant who has become Brahman.
IV-10. There is no burning of what is (already) consumed, just as there is no cooking of what is (already) cooked. For one whose body is consumed in the fire of knowledge there is neither ceremonial rice offering nor any (other) rite (of obsequies).
IV-11. As long as the adjuncts (body, etc.,) persist, let one wait upon the teacher. Let him treat the wife of the teacher and his children as he does the teacher himself.
IV-12. When with the knowledge, ‘I am That !’ ‘I am That’ -- I, whose mind is pure essence, is pure Spirit, is long- suffering – wisdom is won, when the object of knowledge, the supreme Self, is established in the heart; when the body is dissolved in the state of achieved Peace, then one becomes destitute of the luminous mind and intellect.
IV-13. Of what use is water to one who has had his fill of ambrosia ? Similarly, (for one) who has known his Self, of what use are the Vedas ? No duty remains for the Yogin who has had his fill of the ambrosia of knowledge. If duty be there, he is no knower of Truth. Though stationed at a distance, he is not distant; though embodied, he is disembodied; he is the omnipresent inner self.
IV-14. Making the heart pure, contemplating the well-being (of all), one must experience supreme joy in the thought, ‘I am the supreme, the All’.
IV-15. As there is non-difference when water is poured in water, milk in milk and ghee in ghee, so is the case with the individual Self and the supreme Self.
IV-16. When the body is burned by knowledge and knowledge becomes infinite in form, then the knower consumes the bondage of Karma in the fire of Brahman-Knowledge.
IV-17. Thence (follows the state of) the holy non-dual(Reality), named the Supreme Lord, like unto the stainless sky. Self’s nature, abiding without adjuncts, is as (that of) water mixed with water.
IV-18. Like the ether the Self in the subtle body. The inner Self like air is not perceived. That stirless inner Self perceives the external (manifold) with the torch of (objective) knowledge.
IV-19. The knower, dead, no matter due to whatever (form of) death, is dissolved (in Brahman that is) like the all- pervasive sky.
IV-20. This dissolution he knows in truth as of the pot-space (in the infinite space). He attains (the status of) the self- sustained light of all-pervasive knowledge.
IV-21. Standing on one foot, let man do austerities for a 1000 years; but (that austerity) is less than one sixteenth of this Yoga of meditation.
IV-22. This is knowledge; this is to be known; one wishes to know all that. Were he to live (even) for a 1000 years, he would not reach the end of the Shastras.
IV-23. What should be known is just the Imperishable; (but) life is fleeting. Avoiding the labyrinths of Shastras, meditate on the Truth (alone).
IV-24. Action are endless – purification, mutterings, (of holy names), sacrifices, pilgrimage to holy places. These (are valid) only till Truth is won.
IV-25. As regards the great-souled ones, the sure cause of liberation is (the knowledge) ‘I am Brahman’. The two words determining bondage and liberation are ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’.
IV-26. The import of ‘mine’ binds the living being; he is liberated by that of ‘not mine’. When the mind is dementalised, no longer is duality cognised.
IV-27. When dementalisation is achieved, That becomes the supreme status. Wherever, then, the mind goes, there, verily, is the supreme status.
IV-28. Thus, there, everywhere, is Brahman well-established. For one who holds ‘I am not Brahman’ no liberation is possible; (it is as futile) as striking the sky with clenched fists or a hungry man’s chewing the chaff.
IV-29. Whoso studies the Upanishad as a rule (every day) is purified by fire (as it were); by air; by the sun; by Vishnu; by Rudra. He has bathed in all sacred waters. He is versed in all the Vedas; has performed all the sacred rites taught by all the Vedas. He has ritually muttered Lacs of Itihasas and Puranas and one Lac times Rudra’s (tantras). He has muttered a million times the sacred syllable, OM. He redeems ten generations of his line, past and future. He purifies the rows of diners of which he is a number. He becomes great. He is purged of the sins of Brahmin-slaughter, drink, stealth, adultery with (even a) teacher’s spouse and of association with those who are guilty of these.
IV-30. That supreme Status of Vishnu spread out, like an eye, in the sky, the enlightened ones always behold. IV-31. The wise, ever vigilant and diligent in praise richly glorify That supreme Status of Vishnu.
IV-32. OM-Truth – This is the secret teaching.
Om ! That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. The infinite proceeds from the infinite. (Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), It remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone. Om ! Let there be Peace in me ! Let there be Peace in my environment ! Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me ! Om Shanti ! Shanti ! Shanti !
Here ends the Paingala Upanishad, as contained in the Shukla Paksha Yajur-Veda.
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- A Brief Introduction to the Upanishads
Paingala Upanishad - Translated by: Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier Published by The Theosophical Publishing House, Chennai. This text is in public domain and reproduced according to international conventions on copyright. While we have take every possible care to reproduce the text, we cannot guarantee its accuracy of authenticity.