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Copyright 2001 Realization.org.



Kena Upanishad
Translated by F. Max Müller




Fourth Khanda


1. She replied: 'It is Brahman. It is through the victory of Brahman that you have thus become great.' After that he knew that it was Brahman.






2. Therefore these Devas, viz. Agni, Vayu, and Indra, are, as it were, above the other gods, for they touched it (the Brahman) nearest.






3. And therefore Indra is, as it were, above the other gods, for he touched it nearest, he first knew it.






4. This is the teaching of Brahman, with regard to the gods (mythological): It is that which now flashes forth in the lightning, and now vanishes again.


Olivelle (in a book described below) translates this verse much more intelligibly as follows:

"Here is its rule of substitution: the cry 'Ah!' when lightning has flashed, the cry 'Ah!' when it made them blink -- such it is with respect to the divine sphere."

Olivelle believes "substitution" refers to a grammatical concept that has been given an extended, technical meaning in the Upanisadic tradition. The basic idea here, however, is simply that a sudden flash of recognition in the mind is like a flash of lighting that makes somebody say, "ah!"




5. And this is the teaching of Brahman, with regard to the body (psychological): It is that which seems to move as mind, and by it imagination remembers again and again.


Olivelle translates this as follows:

"And with respect to the body (atman) -- when something here comes to the mind somehow and through it the imagination suddenly recollects something."




6. That Brahman is called Tadvana, by the name of Tadvana it is to be meditated on. All beings have a desire for him who knows this.


Olivelle comments:

"The meaning of [Tadvana] is quite unclear. If vana means 'wood', then the meaning is 'the wood (i.e. material) of that (i.e. brahman)'. Others take vana as 'desire' or 'love'. Then the meaning is 'one who has love for that'."




7. The Teacher: 'As you have asked me to tell you the Upanishad, the Upanishad has now been told you. We have told you the Brahmi Upanishad.






8. 'The feet on which that Upanishad stands are penance, restraint, sacrifice; the Vedas are all its limbs, the True is its abode.






9. 'He who knows this Upanishad, and has shaken off all evil, stands in the endless, unconquerable world of heaven, yea, in the world of heaven.'







 Upanisads: A New Translation
By Patrick Olivelle

This is the best English translation we've seen of the twelve major Upanishads. It's the only one that's fully informed by modern scholarship, and the style is lucid and pleasant to read. To top it off, the book happens to be dirt-cheap. Patrick Olivelle is professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions at the University of Texas at Austin.





This page was published on Realization.org on May 31, 2000.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.