Taittiriya Upanishad

The complete text.

Translated by A. Mahadeva Sastri

Editor’s Introduction

THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD is one of the eleven major Upanishads. It has special importance for students of Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga because it’s the only Upanishad that sets forth the doctrine of the five sheaths (kosas) that envelop and conceal the Self like a scabbard holding a sword. The techniques of Jnana Yoga (including self-enquiry) are designed to dispel the illusion that these sheaths and the Self are one and the same. For Advaita Vedanta, self-realization is nothing more than the loss of this illusion.

According to this Upanishad, the five kosas fit one inside another like five socks slipped over the same foot. The outermost kosa is the annamaya-kosa or physical sheath (literally, food sheath). Inside it is the pranamaya-kosa or sheath made of prana (energy), which “fills the physical sheath as air fills a bellows.” Inside the prana sheath is the manomaya-kosa or mind sheath. Next is the vijnanamaya-kosa or sheath of intellect, and last is the anandamaya-kosa or sheath of bliss. Inside all five of them, as if sheltered in a cave, is the Self.

Every translation is a tradeoff between mutually incompatible goals, and the creator of this one has taken that principle to extremes by pursuing a literal one-to-one correspondence of words at the expense of everything else. The result is a faithful translation in a peculiar style whose syntax fails at times to qualify as English. Nevertheless, I confess I find the result not displeasing; it suggests to me some imaginary archaic English as old as the work itself.

In its original printed form, this translation was accompanied by translations of several commentaries including Sankaracharya’s. We have omitted the commentaries here on our website and include only the translator’s preface and the English version of the Upanishad.

The complete text of the original book, including both the Upanishad and commentaries, was recently reprinted in an excellent hardcover edition by Samata Books in Madras.

The translation was originally published in 1903, and its copyright has expired.

—Editor, Realization.org
May 13, 2000

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This page was published on May 13, 2000 and last revised on July 8, 2017.


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