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Copyright 2001 Realization.org.



Mundaka Upanishad
Translated by F. Max Müller


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Second Mundaka


This is the truth. As from a blazing fire sparks, being like unto fire, fly forth a thousandfold, thus are various beings brought forth from the Imperishable, my friend, and return thither also.


"This is the truth" echoes the opening of the previous chapter, where the author discussed the lower knowledge. This time he will explain the real truth, the higher knowledge, beginning with an amplification of the creation story of Book 1, Chapter 1. According to Olivelle, this whole chapter is a retelling of a creation hymn contained in the Rig Veda, 10.90.

This verse is a metaphor which can be read nondualistically or dualistically, as you prefer: Brahman is like a fire, and all the things in the universe (including us) are like sparks that fly out and return to it.


That heavenly Person is without body, he is both without and within, not produced, without breath and without mind, pure, higher than the high Imperishable.

  According to some commentators, the two Imperishables are a creative and non-creative one.


From him (when entering on creation) is born breath, mind, and all organs of sense, ether, air, light, water, and the earth, the support of all.

  is born: the grammatical error is in the printed edition of this translation.


Fire (the sky) is his head, his eyes the sun and the moon, the quarters his ears, his speech the Vedas disclosed, the wind his breath, his heart the universe; from his feet came the earth; he is indeed the inner Self of all things.



From him comes Agni (fire), the sun being the fuel; from the moon (Soma) comes rain (Parganya); from the earth herbs; and man gives seed unto the woman. Thus many beings are begotten from the Person (purusha).



From him come the Rik, the Saman, the Yagush, the Diksha, (initiatory rites), all sacrifices and offerings of animals, and the fees bestowed on priests, the year too, the sacrificer, and the worlds, in which the moon shines brightly and the sun.



From him the many Devas too are begotten, the Sadhyas (genii), men, cattle, birds, the up and down breathings, rice and corn (for sacrifices), penance, faith, truth, abstinence, and law.



The seven senses (prana) also spring from him, the seven lights (acts of sensation), the seven kinds of fuel (objects by which the senses are lighted), the seven sacrifices (results of sensation), these seven worlds (the places of the senses, the worlds determined by the senses) in which the senses move, which rest in the cave (of the heart), and are placed there seven and seven.



Hence come the seas and all the mountains, from him flow the rivers of every kind; hence come all herbs and the juice through which the inner Self subsists with the elements.



The Person is all this, sacrifice, penance, Brahman, the highest immortal; he who knows this hidden in the cave (of the heart), he, O friend, scatters the knot of ignorance here on earth.

  In other words, if you know Brahman, you know everything. This answers the question raised at the very beginning in Book 1, Chapter 1, verse 3.

  Due to copyright restrictions we can't always publish the best existing translations. The clearest and most accurate English version of the Mundaka Upanishad is contained in this Oxford University Press edition translated by Patrick Olivelle. The book is cheap and we recommend it very highly.


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This page was published on Realization.org on April 18, 2001.

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