Translated by A. Mahadeva Sastri
1. Om. May Mitra be propitious to us, and Varuna propitious be; may Aryaman propitious be to us; propitious be Indra and Brihaspati to us; to us propitious may Vishnu of vast extent be.
2. Bow to Brahman! Bow to Thee, Vayu! Thou art indeed Brahman perceptible. Thee indeed will I declare Brahman perceptible. The right will I declare; and I will declare the true. May That protect me; may That protect the teacher. Me may That protect; may It protect the teacher.
3. Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!
1. Om! We shall treat of the phonetics: sound, rhythm, quantity, strength, modulation, union. Thus has been declared the lesson on phonetics.
1. Fame to us both: Brahma-varchasa to us both.
2. Now, then, the Upanishad of Samhita (the sacred teaching about conjunction) shall we declare in the five objects: in the worlds, in the lights, in knowledge, in progeny, in the self. These are great conjunctions, they say.
3. Now as to the worlds: earth is the first form, heaven the next form, the interspace the junction, air the medium; thus far as to the worlds.
4. Now as to the lights: fire is the first form, sun the second form, water the junction, lightning the medium. Thus far as to the lights.
5. Now as to knowledge: master is the first form, pupil the second form, knowledge the junction, instruction the medium. Thus far as to knowledge.
6. Now as to progeny: mother is the first form, father the second form, progeny the junction, procreation the medium. Thus far as to progeny.
7. Now as to the self: lower jaw is the first form, upper jaw the second form, speech the junction, tongue the medium. Thus far as to the self.
8. Thus these are the great conjunctions.
9. Whoso should contemplate these great conjunctions thus declared is endued with progeny and cattle, with brahma-varchasa, with food to eat, with the region of svarga.
1. Who, of all forms, the bull of chants, sprung up from chants immortal, — May He, the Lord, me with intelligence cheer. Of the immortal, O God, the possesor may I be!
2. Able may my body be, sweetest be my tongue! With ears much may I hear! The sheath of Brahman art thou, veiled by intelligence. What I have learned do Thou keep.
3. Bringing to me and increasing ever and anon clothes and kine, food and drink, doing this long, do Thou then bring to me fortune woolly, along with cattle. Svaha!
4. May devotees of Brahman come to me from every side! Svaha!
5. Variously may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svaha!
6. Well-equippped may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svaha!
7. Self-controlled may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svaha!
8. Peaceful may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svaha!
9. Famous among people may I become! Svaha!
10. Superior to the wealthiest may I become! Svahah!
11. That Self of Thine, O God, may I enter! Svaha!
12. Do Thou, O God, enter me. Svahah!
13. In that Self of Thine, of a thousand branches, O God, do I wash myself. Svaha!
14. As waters run to a low level, as months into the year, so unto me may devotees of Brahman, O Disposer of all, come from every side! Svaha!
15. Refuge Thou art, to me do Thou shine forth; forth unto me must Thou come!
1. ‘Bhuh,’ ‘Bhuvah,’ ‘Suvah’: there are thus, verily, these three utterances.
2. Of them, verily, that one, the fourth, ‘Mahah’, did the son of Mahachamasa discover.
3. That is Brahman; that is Atman; its limbs the other Gods.
4. As Bhuh, verily, is this world; as Bhuvah, the mid-region; as Suvah, the other world; as Mahah, the sun; by the sun, indeed, do all worlds excel.
5. As Bhuh, verily, is Agni, Fire; as Bhuvah is Vayu, the Air; as Suvah is Aditya, the Sun; as Mahah is Chandramas, the Moon; by Chandramas, indeed, do all luminaries excel.
6. As Bhuh, verily, as the Riks; as Bhuvah, the Samans; as Suvah, the Yajuses; as Mahah, Brahman; by Brahman, indeed, do all the Vedas excel.
7. As Bhuh, verily, is the upward life; as Bhuvah, the downward life; as Suvah, the pervading life; as Mahah, the food; by food, indeed, do all lives excel.
8. They, verily, these four (Vyahritis) become fourfold; four, four are the Vyahritis.
9. Whoso contemplates them, he knows Brahman; to him do all Devas offer tribute.
1. Here, in this bright space within the heart, is He, that Soul who is formed of thought, undying, full of light.
2. In the mid-region of the throat’s two pillars, that which hangs down like a nipple, — that is the birth-place of Indra, where the hair-end splits up dividing the two regions of the skull.
3. In Agni as Bhuh he rests, in Vayu as Bhuvah, in Aditya as Suvah, in Brahman as Mahah. He attains self-lordship; he attains to the lord of manas, the lord of speech, the lord of sight, the lord of hearing, the lord of intelligence. Then he becomes this, — the Brahman whose body is the bright space, whose nature is true, whose delight is life, whose manas is bliss, who is replete with peace, who is immortal.
4. Thus do thou, O Prachina-yogya, contemplate.
1. Earth, the mid-region, heaven, (the main) quarters and the intermediate quarters; Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air), Aditya (Sun), Chandramas (Moon) and Naksatras (the Stars); waters, plants, trees, the bright space (akasa), and Atman (the Self): thus far among the external beings.
2. Now, as to the self. Prana, vyana, apana, udana, samana; the eye, the ear, manas, speech, touch; skin, flesh, muscle (snava), bone marrow.
3. This having ordained, the Rishi spake thus: Pankta, verily, is this all; by pankta, indeed, does one the pankta strengthen.
1. ‘Om’ is Brahman. ‘Om’ is this all.
2. Om! — this verily is compliance; and on uttering ‘O recite,’ they begin to recite. With Om they sing samans. ‘Om! Som!’ — with this do they tell the prayers. ‘Om!’ — thus does the Adhvaryu convey acceptance. ‘Om!’ — thus assents the Brahma (priest). ‘Om!’ —t hus one permits the offering of an oblation to Fire. ‘Om!’ — thus says the brahmana who is about to recite. “May I obtain Brahman;” — thus wishing, Brahman verily does he obtain.
1. The right, as well as study and teaching; the true, as well as study and teaching; penance, as well as study and teaching; restraint, as well as study and teaching; peace, as well as study and teaching; the fires, as well as study and teaching; offering to fires, as well as study and teaching; guests, as well as study and teaching; the human, as well as study and teaching; the offspring, as well as study and teaching; begetting, as well as study and teaching; propagation of the race, as well as study and teaching.
2. The true, as Satya-vachas, the son of Rathitara holds; penance, as Tapo-nitya, the son of Purushishta holds; study and teaching alone, as Naka, the son of Mudgala, holds; that, verily, is penance, aye that is penance.
1. The Mover of the Tree I am; my fame like the mountain’s peak. The High One making (me) pure, I am the very Immortal One as He is in the sun; I am the Lustrous Wealth. Of high wisdom (I am), immortal, undecaying. So runs Trisanku’s teaching of wisdom.
1. Having taught the Veda, the teacher then exhorts the pupil.
2. Speak the true. Follow Dharma.
3. From study swerve thou not. Having offered dear wealth to the teacher, cut thou not the progeny’s line. From the true it will not do to swerve, nor from Dharma, nor from welfare. Neither will it do to swerve from well-being, nor from study and teaching, nor from duties to Devas and Pitris.
4. Treat thy mother as a God; as a God treat thou thy father; as a God shalt thou treat they teacher; thy guests as Gods shalt thou treat.
5. What works are free from fault, they should be resorted to, not others.
6. What are good works of ours, they should be done, not others.
7. Whatever brahmanas are better than ourselves, in their sitting it will not do for thee to breathe.
8. With reverence should gifts be made, never with irreverence should a gift be made. With liberality should gifts be made, with modesty should gifts be made. With fear should a gift be given, in friendliness should a gift be given.
9. Now if to thee a doubt as to a deed, or a doubt as to conduct, should occur, as the brahmanas there — who are thoughtful, zealous, well-versed, not hard (at heart), desirous of Dharma — would act in such matters, so there shalt thou act.
10. Now as to the accused: as the brahmanas there — who are thoughtful, zealous, well-versed, not hard (at heart), desirous of Dharma — would act in such matters, so there shalt thou act.
11. This is the direction; this the advice; this the secret of Vedas; this the command; thus shall devotion be, and thus verily (all) this shalt thou observe.
1. Om! May Mitra be propitous to us, and Varuna propitious be; may Aryaman propitious be to us; propitious be Indra and Brihaspati to us; to us propitious may Vishnu of vast extent be. Bow to Brahman, Bow to Thee, Vayu! Thou art indeed Brahman perceptible. Thee indeed have I declared Brahman perceptible. The right have I declared; and I have declared the true. That has protected me, That has protected the Teacher; aye, That has protected me, That has protected the Teacher. Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!
Translated by Swami Gambhirananda
This two-volume set is the translation we most highly recommend if you are a serious seeker who wants to understand the Upanishads as they have been traditionally understood in India. Sankara’s commentaries are included. The prose is straightforward and easy to read.
Swami Nikhilananda’s four-volume edition is also good but it’s more expensive.
Please note that this book is manufactured in India, and Indian books are a bit different from Western ones. If you want an edition manufactured in the US, get Swami Nikhilananda’s instead. It’s made with library bindings and high-quality paper.
Translated by Patrick Olivelle
This is the best Western academic translation of the Upanishads that has ever been made for a general audience. The translator, a professor at an American university, incorporates the full body of Western scholarship in his translated texts and notes.
Olivelle, like most Western scholars (he was born in Sri Lanka but educated in the West), is mainly concerned with uncovering the original meaning of texts as they were understood when they were composed, before the commentaries were written. Therefore he doesn’t assume the traditional commentaries on the Upanishads are correct. This is a very different approach than the one taken, for example, by Swamis Nikhilananda and Gambhirananda, who present the Upanishads and their interpretation by influential commentators as a single unified whole.
Olivelle alludes to this issue in his introduction:
“Even though this equation [Atman = Brahman] played a significant role in later developments of religion and theology in India and is the cornerstone of one of its major theological traditions, the Advaita Vedanta, it is incorrect to think that the single aim of all the Upanisads is to enunicate this simple truth.”
If you want a traditional, Vedantin translation, this book is not for you. But if you want to see how academic scholars interpret the Upanishads, this is one of the best books you can buy.
This book is available only in paperback. Digital and hardcover editions are not available. If you want a hardcover edition you have to buy a much more expensive book called The Early Upaniṣads which contains the same translations by Olivelle plus the Sanskrit text and more extensive notes. This second book is much more substantial, with a library-quality binding and thicker paper, but it costs ten times as much. We strongly recommend this second book but it’s too expensive for the average reader.
Translated by Shree Purohit Swami and W.B. Yeats
There are translations for the heart and for the head; those that recreate the poetic, literary greatness of the original, and those that aim at academic fidelity. This may be the best English translation of the first type that has ever been made of the Upanishads. Shri Purohit Swami was an enormously talented yogi who came to London in 1930, and W.B. Yeats was one of the greatest English poets of the twentieth century.
This page was published on May 13, 2000 and last revised on July 8, 2017.