Made Easy to Understand

Ramananda Prasad, Ph.D.

© International Gita Society (IGS)

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 “… Dr. Prasad’s deft rendering of the nine principal Upanishads with subsidiary supports makes an in-road and gives access to the magnificent conclusions left by the ancient sages of India. This book gives us a summary view of the information which was divulged by those teachers. It  is easy to read and understand and will encourage you to delve deeper into the subject matter.” 

Michael Beloved, New York


01. IsU     Ishāvāshya Upanishad

02. KeU   Kena Upanishad

03. KaU   KaTha Upanishad

04. PrU    Prashna Upanishad

05. MuU   Mundaka Upanishad  

06. MaU   Māndukya Upanishad

07. TaU   Taittiriya Upanishad

08. AiU    Aitareya Upanishad

09. ShU   Shvetāshvatara Upanishad

10. BrU   Brihadāranyaka Upanishad

11. ChU  Chāndogya Upanishad

12. RV    Rigveda

13. YV    Yajurveda

14. SV    Sāmaveda

15. AV    Atharvaveda

16. BG    Bhagavad-Gita, 73 quotes**

**Read all references to Gita verses in this book on:


This book is meant for the first time readers who have studied

Gita and have some familiarity with Vedic culture, religion and Sanskrit words. Advanced study of the Upanishads should be pursued by “sitting down near a qualified spiritual master."








Brahman Powers Our Senses. 1


Brahman is Unknown to the Wise. 2


Everything Runs by The Power of God. 2


Devas Get Power from Brahman. 2

The Teachings of Upanishad Lead to Liberation. 3



All is Brahman. 4

Live Like a Lotus Leaf 4

Destiny of the Ignorant 4

Description of the Un-Describable Ātmā. 4

The Beauty of Advaita Philosophy. 5

How to Work and Worship. 5

Reconciliation of Contradictions. 5

Nirvāna by Giving Up the Ego. 5

Always Remember God. 6








Sixteen aspects  (Kalā) of the Supreme. 10

Explanation of : Om! purnamadah purnamidam ……. 25

(The most important shloka of the Vedas) 25



The philosophical portion of the Vedas is called the Upanishads. The Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Vedas and are also called Vedānta (added at the end of the Vedas). They are found appended to all the four Vedas, and thus we have Upanishads belonging to all four Vedas: Rig, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva. Each Vedas reveals its contents under four sections: (1) The Samhitās, containing beautiful lyrical poems or mantras describing and adoring the beauty of nature and the power of the extraordinary forces. (2) The Brahmana section containing the ritualistic injunctions and prescriptions for various ceremonies. (3) The Aranyakas, containing various methods of worship or Upāsanās and (4) The Upanishads, containing the philosophical discussions and sermons that had taken place at various periods of time between different teachers (Rishis) and their students, regarding Brahman, Eternal Purpose of creation and the goal of human life. While the hymns of the Vedas emphasize rituals and the Brahmanas serve as a manual for those Vedic rituals. The Upanishads are inherently opposed to rituals.

The name ‘Upanishad’ has a very purposeful meaning and deep significance. The Sanskrit word Upanishad translates to: “Upa (near) ni (down) shad (sit), sitting down near a teacher". The term 'Upanishad' literally means sitting near the enlightened Master and listening closely to the mystic doctrines of the spiritual teacher, who has grasped the fundamental truths of the universe. To Indian scholars ‘Upanishad’ also means a literature that destroys our present ignorance of Reality and helps the student to attain the Supreme Knowledge.

There are more than 200 known Upanishads, one of which, Muktikā Upanishad, predates 1656 and contains a list of 108 authorized Upanishads, including itself as the last. The first dozen out of 108 Upanishads are the oldest and most important known as the principal Upanishads. They all predate 6th century BCE. The top Nine Principal Upanishads are presented in this book.



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May He protect us both (the teacher

and the pupil) May He nourish us both.

May we work together with great vigor.

May our study be thorough and fruitful.

May we never misunderstand each other.


Om! Shantih! Shantih! Shantih!


The Kenopanishad is one of the earlier primary Upanishads. It  is associated with the Sāmaveda where it is found inserted into the last section of the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana. It  discusses: Our senses get their power from Brahman, Brahman is unknown and unknowable, everything runs by the power of God, Devas (gods) also get their power from Brahman. It  has 35 verses in prose.



01. The disciple asked: Om! By whose will does the mind proceed to its objects? At whose command does the prāna do its duty? At whose will do men utter speech? Who directs the eyes and ears to function?

Brahman Powers Our Senses

02. The teacher replied: it is the spirit (Ātmā) by whose power the ear hears, the eyes see, the tongue speaks, the mind understands and prāna function. Having distinguished the Self from the non-Self (body, mind, sense-organs), the wise attains immortality.

03-04. The eye does not go there, nor speech, nor the mind. We do not know it, nor do we know any method of instructing about it. It is different from everything known; it is unknowable. Thus we have heard from the preceptors who taught it to us.

05. That which cannot be expressed by speech, but by which speech is expressed, know that alone as Brahman, and not what people here worship.

Note 2: People worship deities or some extra-cosmic Being to fulfill desires. These deities are not Brahman. Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, even those devotees who worship the deities with faith, they also worship Me, but without proper understanding (9.23).

06. That which cannot be comprehended by the mind, but by which the mind comprehends, know that alone as Brahman, and not what people here worship.

07. That which cannot be seen by the eye, but by which the eye sees, know that alone as Brahman, and not what people here worship.

08. That which cannot he heard by the ear, but by which the ear hears, know that alone as Brahman, and not what people here worship.

09. That which cannot be smelt by the breath, but by which the breath smells, know that alone as Brahman, and not what people here worship.


01. The teacher said: If you think: "I know Brahman well," then surely you know very little about it. You only know it as perceived by human mind. Therefore you should enquire further about Brahman.


02. The disciple said: I think I know Brahman, but very little. I do not think I know it well, nor do I think I do not know it. He among us who knows the meaning of "Neither do I not know, nor do I know"—knows Brahman. (Jivātmā does have very limited Knowledge of Brahman.)

Brahman is Unknown to the Wise

03. The teacher said: He by whom Brahman is not known, knows it; he by whom it is known, does not know it. It  is unknown by those who know it; it is known only by those who do not know it.

(Brahman is unknown to the wise and known only to the ignorant )


04. Brahman is known when it is realized as a witness in all the three (waking, dream and deep sleep) states of consciousness (see pages 61-62); by such Knowledge one attains immortality and strength to face all difficulties and fear of death.


05. If a man knows Ātmā in this life, he then attains the true goal of human birth. If he does not know it in this life, a great calamity awaits him. Having realized the Self in every being, the wise renounce the illusory world and become immortal.



Everything Runs by The Power of God

01. Brahman, according to the story, got a victory for Devas over Asuras (demons); and by that victory (of Brahman) the gods became elated. They said to themselves: "Verily, this victory is ours; verily, this glory is ours only."

     All actions are actually performed by various forces (or Gunas) of Nature, but due to delusion of ego or ignorance, people assume themselves to be the sole doer and get bound by karma. (BG 3.27)

02. Brahman, knowing their pride born out of ego (The ego is a notion that oneself, instead of God, does all works!), appeared before them as a male spirit (Yaksha). But gods did not know who that adorable Spirit was.

03-06. They said to Agni (Fire god): "O Agni! Find out who this great Spirit is. "Yes," he said, and hastened to it. Brahman asked him: "Who are you?" He replied: "I am known as Agni." Brahman said: "What power is in you?" Fire replied: "I can burn all—whatever there is on earth." Brahman put a dry straw before him and said: "Burn this." He rushed toward it with full force but could not burn it. Then he returned from the Spirit and said to the gods: "I could not find out who this Spirit is."

07-10. Then they said to Vāyu (Air god): "O Vāyu! Find out who this great Spirit is. "Yes Sir," he said and hastened to it. Brahman asked him: "Who are you?" He replied: "I am known as Vāyu." Brahman said: "What power is in you that make you great?" Vāyu replied: "I can carry off all—whatever there is on earth." Brahman put a dry straw before him and said: "Carry this." He rushed toward it with full force but could not move it. Then he returned from the Spirit and said to the gods: "I could not find out who this Spirit is."

11-12. Then the gods said to Indra: "Indra Bhagavān! Find out who this great Spirit is. "Yes," he said and hastened to it. But the Spirit disappeared from him. Then Indra saw in that very region of the sky a Woman highly adorned. She was Umā Devi, the daughter of the King of Himālayas. He approached Her and said: "Mother! who that great Spirit could be?"




Devas Get Power from Brahman

01. Mother replied in great detail: "it was, indeed, Brahman. Through the victory of Brahman alone have you attained glory."  After that Indra understood that it was Brahman, realized his mistake and learned a lesson.

02. Since they came very near Brahman and were the first to know that it was Brahman. These three devas, namely: Indra, Agni, and Vāyu excelled the other gods.

03. Since Indra approached Brahman nearest, and since he was the first to know that it was Brahman, Indra excels the other gods.

04. This is the description of Brahman with regard to the gods: Devas get power from Brahman. Brahman is behind every form of power, movement and life (prāna) in the universe.

05. Now the description of Brahman with regard to the individual self: Because of Brahman the mind knows the external world, remembers and imagines things.

06. That Brahman is called the adorable of all; it should be worshipped by all. All creatures love him who worships or realizes Brahman.

The Teachings of Upanishad Lead to Liberation

07. The disciple said; “Teach me, sir, the Upanishad." The preceptor replied: "I just now told you the Upanishad about Brahman." But I will repeat again:

08. Austerities, self-restraint, and sacrificial works are its feet, and the Vedas are all its limbs. Knowledge is its abode.

Devi instructs Indra about Brahman

09. He who thus knows this Upanishad shakes off all sins and becomes firmly established in the Infinite. He reaches the  main goal of human birth.


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Om! purnamadah purnamidam,

purnāt purnam-udacyate.

purnasya purnamādāya,


Om! Shantih! Shantih! Shantih!

Om! The invisible Brahman is infinite; the visible Universe is also infinite. From infinite Brahman, infinite universes come out. The infinite Brahman still remains infinite, even

though infinite universes come out of it.

(See explanation of this important verse at the end )

The Ishāvāshya Upanishad is one of the shortest of the Upanishads. It is like a short poem than a philosophical treatise, consisting of only 18 verses in poetry. This Upanishad constitutes the final chapter of the Shukla Yajurveda. The study of Upanishads traditionally starts with this Upanishad and should go on in the sequence given in this book.


All is Brahman

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Om! Ishāvāsyam idam sarvam, yatkincha jagatyām jagat.

Tena tyaktena bhunjithā, mā gridhah kasyavid dhanam.

01. Whatever exists in this transient world is an abode (v==s=) of Lord of the universe (Isha, God). Enjoy what is given to you by the Lord—with a spirit of renunciation (Samnyāsa) that nothing belongs to you, but to God. Do not crave for material possessions. (Also see BG 7.19)

After many births, the enlightened one surrenders to My Will by realiz­ing that everything is, indeed, My manifestation. Such a great soul is very rare. (BG 7.19) (Also see BG 7.07, 18.66)

The other seven Sanskrit verses of the Vedas, called great sayings are: (1) All this is, of course, the Spirit because everything is born from, rests in, and merges into the Spirit (in ChU 3.14.01 of Sāmaveda). (2) All this is Spirit. The Spirit is everywhere. All this universe is, indeed, Supreme Brahman in MuU 2.02.11 of Atharvaveda. The Bible also says: You are gods (John 10.34). The Vedas and Upanishads declare: (3) Consciousness is Spirit (in AiU 3.03 of Rigveda). (4) I am the Spirit (in BrU 1.04.10 of Yajurveda). (5) You are the Spirit (t=t=< tv=m=< ais= in ChU 6.08.07 of Sāmaveda). (6) The individual Self (Jivātmā, Jiva) is one and the same with the Absolute (Brahman, Brahma) (in MaU 02 of Atharvaveda) and (7) That which is One has become all these (in Rigveda 8.58.02).

Because of being beginning less and unaffectable by the three modes of material Nature, the eternal Supersoul—even though dwelling in the body as a living entity—neither does anything nor becomes tainted by Karma, O Arjuna. (BG 13.31)

The universe is made up of the energy (Tej) of the Lord. He is the creator, operator and destroyer. The universe is made up of God, made by God, and made for God to reside, play and enjoy His own creation by becoming jivātmā.

Live Like a Lotus Leaf

02. People should wish to live full life span (of 100 years) by doing their prescribed duty (without ego and attachment to results). There is no other way to avoid the bondage of karma. The Bhagavad-Gita also says:

     One who does all work as an offering to God—abandoning attachment to results—remains untouched by karmic reaction or sin, just as a lo­tus leaf never gets wet by water. (BG 5.10)

Destiny of the Ignorant

03. Those devoid of Self-knowledge, also called the slayers of Ātmā, are verily born in the wombs of evil beings, lacking Self-knowledge, after death.

I hurl these cruel, sinful, and mean people, into the cycles of death and birth in the womb of demons (or degraded parents) again and again, according to their karma. (BG 16.19)

Description of the Un-Describable Ātmā

04. Ātmā appears Immovable, yet it remains in constant motion **. It is swifter than mind and beyond the reach of intellect, always remaining ahead of mind and senses (because it carries mind and senses with it). Thus, Ātmā out runs all those who run. The cosmic energy of Ātman, (prāna), sustains activities of living beings; Ātman really does no action.

      **The electrons and protons are in constant motion. This motion is what we call ‘RāsaLilā’ of Krishna, the never ending dance of Prakriti and Purusha.

05. Ātmā moves and also does not move; it is very far as well as very near. It is both inside and outside all beings. (Also see BG 13.15)

The Beauty of Advaita Philosophy

06. The wise one perceives one’s own higher Self in all, and all in one’s own higher Self. Therefore, he does not hate or injure anyone. Such a person loves everybody as one loves God.

07. The wise one who has realized that his own higher Self has become all, and sees the oneness of entire existence (a8Et=, non-dual), what sorrow and what delusion can overwhelm him?

One, who sees One in all and all in One, sees the One everywhere and in everything. To fully under­stand this and to experience the oneness of individual soul and the Supersoul, is the highest achievement and the only goal of human birth.

How to Work and Worship

08. He (the Self) is all-pervading, radiant, bodiless, spotless, all-powerful, pure, untouched by sin and all-seeing, all-knowing, transcendent, and self-existent. He assigns duty and properly gives the fruits of one’s karma.

Reconciliation of Contradictions

09. Into the blinding darkness enter those who practice Avidyā (rituals, action, sevā) only; and into greater darkness those who practice Vidyā (or seek theoretical Knowledge) only.

      He who worships deities (many gods) to fulfill material desires is in the mode of passion (Rajas). Such a person is ignorant like a child, because he thinks: I am different from God (8Et=B==v=). Pursuit of only theoretical Knowledge without any action is useless and is in the mode of ignorance (Tamas).

10. One thing, they say, is obtained from Vidyā (Jnāna or Gnāna) and another thing from Avidyā (karma). Thus we have heard from the wise who have taught us this.

11. One who pursues both Avidyā and Vidyā (Karma and Gnāna) together, attains relative immortality (going to heaven) by Avidyā or good karma, and obtains immortality by Vidyā, the Self-knowledge.

The idea behind verses 9, 10 and 11 is that one must not neglect either karma or Gnāna. The fruit of Gnāna can only come out from the soil of karma, therefore, karma is better than mere book knowledge. (BG 5.02). But, both are complementary and not exclusive or contradictory as some may believe. (Also see BG 18.78)

12. Into a blind darkness enter they who worship manifest god or a deity only (just to fulfill desires, without knowing that deities are not God). But into a greater darkness enter they who worship formless, Brahman only. (Also see KeU 1.05)

The Bhagavad-Gita says: Self-realization is more difficult for those who fix their mind on the impersonal and formless Absolute, because worship of the impersonal is difficult for ordinary human beings. (BG 12.05)

13. One thing, they say, is obtained from knowledge of the manifest Brahman; another, they say, from Knowledge of the unmanifest Brahman. Thus we have heard from the wise who taught us this.

14. He who worships (realizes or fully understands) both the un-manifest and the manifest Brahman, overcomes fear of death by the worship of deities (manifest) and obtains immortality by true Knowledge of the Absolute, formless, non-dual, Brahman (un-manifest).

To those who worship Me meditating on My personal form with unswerving devotion, setting Me as their supreme goal, offering all actions to Me—I swiftly become their savior from the world that is the ocean of death and transmigration. (Also see KaU 1.6.13, BG 12.06-07)

    The ideas behind verses 12, 13 and 14 are that one must very well worship or understand both sides (or aspects)—the personal and the impersonal—of the coin of Reality. The Absolute Being is beyond the human conception of form and formless. It has a transcendental form beyond human conception of form and formless. (BG 7.24).

Nirvāna by Giving Up the Ego

15. The face of Truth is covered with a golden curtain of ego (maya, ignorance). Uncover it, O (Sun) God, so that I, who am devoted to the Truth, may behold it! (Also see APPENDIX 2 on ego)

16. O Pushan, the nourishing God in the form of Sun, O controller and supporter of all, withdraw your blinding radiance of ignorance; and focus your soothing rays of Gnāna on me, so that I may be able to comprehend Your transcendental form. And realize that whosoever person is up there, that also i am (s==eChm=<).

Always Remember God

17. Now, let my breath be merged in all-pervading immortal prāna, and the body be reduced to ashes. O mind! remember Om!, remember past deeds. The mind remembers all that I have done. (Also see BG 8.06-07)

    During the last moment of our life, The mind automatically remembers what we have done during the entire life, as mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita.

Rishi Ghora Āngirasa, communicated the following teaching to Krishna, the son of Devakiand it quenched Krishna’s thirst for any other knowledge. Rishi said: "When a man approaches death he should take refuge in these three last thoughts: “Om! Thou art indestructible,” “Thou art unchanging,” and “Thou art the subtle essence of prāna.”

18. O Agni (the Bright Being)! Lead us to blessedness by the noble path—the Northern path of gods. O Lord! You know all our deeds, remove all evil and delusion from us. To Thee we offer our prostrations and prayers again and again.

Note 1: The Northern path—the path of no return—has been described in the Upanishads (ChU 4.15.05, BrU 6.2.15) and in the Bhagavad-Gita verse 8.24.



The Prashna Upanishad or PrashnoPanishad is one of the earlier, primary Upanishads. It is associated with the Atharvaveda. It has 67 verses in prose. Rishi Pippalāda answers six questions: (1) matter (rayi) and energy is the origin of creation, (2) prāna is the power of God, (3) God is the origin of prāna, (4) three states of consciousness, (5) meditation on Om, and  (6) Ātmā resides as prāna in the body.


01. Om! Six students, devoted to Brahman and seeking the Supreme Brahman, approached the venerable rishi (sage) Pippalāda with a gift of fuel-wood in hand thinking that he would tell them everything about Brahman.

02. The rishi Pippalāda said to them: Stay with me a year practicing austerities, chastity and faith. Then you may ask questions according to your desire. If I know them I shall tell you everything.

03. Then Kabandhi, the son of Katya, came to him after a year and asked: Sir, wherefrom are these creatures born?

04. To him the teacher said: Prajāpati (Brahmā), the lord of Creatures, was desirous of progeny. He performed austerities (t=p=s=) and having performed austerities, created the pair: matter (rayi) and energy (prāna). He said to Himself: "These two should produce creatures for Me in manifold ways."

‘Austerity’ here means samkalpa or Divine Will to create: “Eko'ham bahu syam (Let Me be many, ChU 6.2.3)”. In Brahman, there was the thought vibration of Om and the universe was projected out of Him and He entered into every being just as a huge fig (banyan) tree is projected out of a tiny seed and the seed remains in every fig.

05. The Sun is prāna, the energy that supports life; the Moon is rayi or primordial matter (Adi prakriti). Matter is, indeed, all this—what has form and what is formless. Therefore everything having form is, indeed, matter (Moon, rayi).

06. Now the sun, when it rises, enters the eastern quarter and thereby holds the living beings of the east by its rays. And when it illumines the southern, the western, the northern, the lower, the upper and the intermediate quarters (or directions)—when it illumines everything—it supports all living beings by its rays.

07-08. The sun is the soul of all forms, it is life. It  is prāna, the heat energy that rise everyday. The wise know him who is in all forms, full of rays, all-knowing, non-dual, the eye of all beings, the giver of heat. There rises the sun of thousands rays, supporting the life of all creatures.

09. The year, verily, is Prajāpati (Lord of the creatures) and his paths are two: the Southern and the Northern. Those who perform sacrifices and engage in pious actions, go to the World of the Moon (heaven) by the Southern path; verily they return to earth again. Therefore, the rishis who desire off-spring travel by the Southern Path.

10. But those who seek the Self through austerity, chastity, faith and Knowledge travel by the Northern Path and attain SunLoka. Thence they do not return. This path is blocked for the ignorant.

11. Some call Sun the father with twelve forms (months), the giver of rain and the dweller in the region above the sky. Others, say that the Sun is omniscient, placed on a chariot with seven wheels (seven colors of the rainbow) and six spokes or seasons. (The word “Sun or sun” is also used for the Supreme Being)

12. The month is Prajāpati. It s dark fortnight is matter, rayi; its bright half, the eater, prāna. Therefore some rishis perform sacrifice in the bright half, some in the other half of the lunar month.

13. Day and night are Prajāpati. Day is prāna (energy) and night is the matter or rayi. Those who join in sexual enjoyment during day dissipate their prāna more; but to join in sexual enjoyment by night is said to have self-control or celibacy by some.

14. Food is Prajāpati. From food comes semen; from semen are all these creatures born.

15. Those who follow the rule of Prajāpati should produce a pair of children, a son and a daughter. But Brahmā-loka belongs to those who observe austerity and chastity and firmly established in Knowledge.

16. The pure World of Brahmā belongs only to those in whom there is no deceit, falsehood or deception.


01. Then Vaidarbhi, belonging to the family of Bhrigu, asked him: Sir, how many gods support the body of the created being? How many of these manifest their power? And which one is the greatest?

02. To the disciple he said: ākāsha (ether, consciousness), verily is that god. And the air, fire, water, earth together with speech, mind, eye and ear. These, having manifested their power, said boastfully: "We support this body and uphold it."

03. To them chief prāna said: "Do not fall into delusion. I, the Universal life force alone, dividing myself into five vital breaths [prāna (inhalation), apāna (exhalation, excretion), samāna (digestive fire), udāna (speech) and vyāna (blood circulation)] support this body and uphold it." But other gods were not convinced.

04. Prāna, out of pride, rose upward from the body. Now, when it rose upward all the others rose upward also and when it settled down they all settled down with it. As bees go out when their queen goes out and return when she returns, even so did speech, mind, eye and ear. They, being satisfied, praised prāna.

05. Prāna burns as fire, it is the sun, it is the rain; it is the rain god, Indra, it is the wind, it is the earth, it is food. It is the luminous god. It is the visible, the invisible; it is the basis of (relative) immortality of even gods.

06. Like spokes in the hub of a wheel, all are fixed in prāna, including the birth of Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Sāmaveda, the Kshatriyas, the Brāhmans and all beings.

07. As Prajāpati, the universal life force, you (prāna) move about in the womb; it is you, indeed, who are born again. O Prāna, creatures bring offerings to you, who dwell in the body and in the organs.

08. You are the chief carrier of oblations to the gods and the offering to the departed fathers; you are the senses of the rishis.

09. You are the creator, the supporter and the destroyer too. You move in the sky as the sun-god, the lord of lights.

10. O Prāna, when you shower down rain, these creatures of yours are delighted, thinking there will be as much food as they desire.

11. O Prāna, You are pure. You are the Fire that enjoys the offerings by the devotees. You are the Supreme Lord of all. We are the givers of the food (or oblations) that you consume. You are our father.

12. Those forms of yours—which abides in speech, which abides in the ear, which abides in the eye and which pervades the mind—make it stay and auspicious.

13. Whatever exists in the three worlds is all under the control of prāna. O prāna, protect us as a mother protects her sons; give us prosperity and wisdom.


01. Then Kausalya, the son of Asvala, asked Pippalāda: Sir, Where from is this prāna born? How does it come and abide in the body of all? How does it depart from body? How does it support the external world and the internal world (all the six senses)?


02. To him the teacher replied: You are asking such difficult questions; you must be exceedingly devoted to Brahman. Therefore I will answer you.


03. This prāna or energy is born of Ātman. As a shadow is cast by a person, so this prāna is cast by Ātman. By action of the mind, prāna enters into the body.

04. As an emperor commands his officials, saying: "Reside and rule these villages or those," so this chief of prāna engages the other five major prānas, each in its different functions.

05. Apāna dwells in the organs of excretion and procreation; prāna himself moves through these four organs: the mouth, the nose, the eye and the ear. In the middle is samāna; it distributes what has been offered as food in the stomach to all parts of the body.

06. The Ātman dwells in the causal heart, where there are one hundred and one arteries (nādis); for each of these there are one hundred and one branches and for each of these branches, again, there are seventy-two thousand subsidiary veins. Vyāna circulates blood in all these 727,200,000 branches.

07. And then udāna, ascending upward to the crown in the head, through sushumnā nādi, takes the departing soul to the virtuous world of heaven for its virtuous deeds; and to the sinful world of animals, insects and plants for its sinful deeds; and to the world of humans, for mixed deeds.

08. The rays of the sun are the cosmic prāna in the eye that make the eye see. The deity (gravity) that exists in the earth attracts the apāna towards earth. The space or ākāsha between the heaven and the earth is samāna. The air is vyāna.

09. The internal fire (body temperature) is udāna; therefore they in whom this fire has been extinguished go out for rebirth or die, taking out the senses with the subtle body.

The jiva takes its subtle body—the six sensory faculties of perception, mind, intellect, ego, and five vital forces (prāna)—from one physical body to another after death, just as the wind carries away aroma from the flower (BG 15.08).

10. Whatever one's thought, with that one enters into prāna. Prāna united with udāna leads Jivātmā to whatever world has been created by the predominant thought during one’s life-time.

     Whatever object one remembers as one leaves the body at the end of life, that object is attained. Thought of whatever object prevails during one's lifetime, one remembers only that object at the end of life and achieves it. (BG 8.06)

One’s destiny is determined by the predominant thought at the time of death. Even if one has practiced devotion and God-conscious­ness during one’s lifetime, the thought of God may or may not come at the hour of death. Therefore, God-consciousness should be continued till death.


11. The wise one who knows prāna as described above attains immortality and his progeny (gnāna) does not perish.

12. He who knows the origin of prāna, its entry, its place, its fivefold distribution, its all-pervasive internal and external aspects as described above, obtains immortality in the space of Brahmā (Brahmā-loka) until the end of the creative cycle for sure.


01. Next Sauryayāni, belonging to the family of Garga, asked: Sir, what are they that sleep in man and become awake again? Which deity is it that sees dreams? Who enjoys (and remembers) the bliss of a deep sleep? In whom all these senses and organs abide during sleep? 

02. To him Pippalāda replied: O Gargya, as the rays of the setting sun remain dormant in the luminous orb and again come out when sun rises, similarly, all these—the sense objects and the senses—take rest together with the mind. Therefore, during deep sleep  a man does not hear, see, smell, taste, touch, speak, grasp, enjoy, secrete and does not move.

03. The prāna alone remain awake or active in the body of a sleeping man. The Prāna(s) are also called by other names.

04. Samāna is so called because it carries the out-breathing and the in-breathing equally (Samāna) into the body. Thus it is the priest. The mind is the sacrificer (yajamāna). Udāna is the fruit of the sacrifice, because it takes the sacrificer, the mind, close to Brahman every day during deep sleep.

05. In dream state the mind experiences the Glory of God. Whatever has been seen it sees again; whatever has been heard it hears again; whatever has been experienced in different places at different times, it experiences again. Whatever has been seen or not seen, heard or not heard and whatever is real or not real—the mind sees it all. The mind itself becomes the dreamer as well as all the objects of the dream world. (Similarly, Creator itself becomes the Creation!)

06. When the mind is subdued by that unknown power causing the deep sleep , jiva sees no dream; at that time, in this body, temporary bliss is enjoyed by the mind.

07-08. just as birds goes to a tree to rest, so do all these rest in the Supreme Ātman: The earth and its subtle elements, water and its subtle elements, fire and its subtle elements, air and its subtle elements, ākāsha and its subtle elements, the eye and what can be seen, the ear and what can be heard, the nose and what can be smelt, the taste and what can be tasted, the skin and what can be touched, the organ of speech and what can be spoken, the hands and what can be grasped, the organ of generation and what can be enjoyed, the organ of excretion and what can be excreted, the feet and what is their destination, the mind and what can be thought, the intellect and what can be comprehended, the ego and the object of egoism, the memory and its object, knowledge and its object, prāna and everything supported by it—all these rest in Ātman during deep sleep.

09. It is He who sees, feels, hears, smells, tastes, thinks and knows. He is the doer, the ego, the purusha. Becoming a jiva, He dwells in the highest imperishable Self.

10. One who knows that imperishable Being is bright, without shadow, without body, without color; verily attains the Supreme, imperishable Purusha. O my good friend, one who knows Ātman, becomes all-knowing and becomes all—the Supreme.

11. He, O friend, who knows that imperishable Being in which rest the mind, the intellect, the senses, the ego, the gods, the prānas, the five elements and all—he becomes omniscient (all-knowing) and realizing himSelf as Ātman, feels himSelf as infinite Self—existing everywhere and in all. Such a person is called Self-realized, ParamaHamsha.

     There is nothing other than Me, the Supreme Being, O Arjuna. Everything in the universe rests in Me like different thread-beads rest on the thread. (BG 7.07)



01. Then Satyakāma, the son of Sibi, asked Pippalāda: Sir, to what world does he go who regularly meditate on Om?

02. He replied: O Satyakāma, the syllable Om is the symbol of both the ParaBrahman and Brahman and also the other Brahman (gods). Therefore, he who thus knows Om, the all comprehensive sound-symbol of Brahman, surely attains one of them, depending on the degrees of one’s understanding.

03. If he meditates on one letter A, then, being enlightened by that alone, he quickly comes back to earth after death. The rik deva leads him to the world of men. By practicing austerity, chastity and faith he attains greatness on the earth.

04. If, again, he meditates on the second letter U, he is led up by the mantra deva of yajur verses to the world of moon or heaven. Having enjoyed greatness in the heaven, he returns to this world again.

05. Again, he who meditates on the Supreme through the mono-syllable Om, becomes united with the Sun (the light of Knowledge). As a snake is freed from its skin, so he is freed from all sin. He is taken to the world of Brahmā by Sāma hymns via Northern path—the path of gods. And attains gradual liberation (KramaMukti).

06. When the three letters of AUM are meditated upon separately (like A…. U…. M), the contemplator has to be born again and again; but when they are meditated together as Om, it is said to be meditated properly on the activities of all three states—waking, dream and sleep—of consciousness, and one does not waver from Brahma-consciousness (a=tm=B==v=).


07. The wise man, meditating on letter A, attains this world by means of the rik verses; attains heaven by means  of the yajur verses (by meditating on letter U); and obtains Knowledge by means of the sāma verses (by meditating on Om). And also through the mono-syllable Om he realizes that which is tranquil, immortal, and free from fear of death. This is the Highest. (Also read Mundaka Upanishad and a proper technique of meditating on Om on page 66)


01. Then Sukesa, the son of Bhāradvāja, said to Pippalāda: Sir, Hiranyabha, the prince of Kosala, once came to me and asked this question: "O son of Bhāradvāja, do you know the person with sixteen Kalā or parts?" I said to the prince: "I do not know Him; if I knew Him, why should I not tell you? Surely he who speaks what is not true withers away to the very root; therefore I should not speak untruth." Then he silently mounted his chariot and went away. Now I ask you: Where does that Person dwell?

Sixteen parts (Kalā) of the Supreme

02. Pippalāda said to him: My dear friend, the Supreme Person (purusha)—from whom these sixteen parts arise—dwells here, within this body and in the entire creation.

03. The Purusha reflected: "What is it by whose departure I shall depart and by whose staying I shall stay in the creation?"

04. Thus He created prāna; from prāna space, air, fire, water, earth, the organs, mind, intellect, matter, from matter (or food) vigor, austerity, mantra, karma, the worlds (or the universe); and in the worlds He created different forms with names.

Thus, prāna is the basis of all other fifteen parts mentioned above.

05. Just as ocean bound rivers, when they reach the sea, their names and forms disappear and are called simply the ocean, similarly these sixteen parts disappear when it turns inward towards its Real nature, away from the false identification with the parts. Parts become one with the immortal Brahman.

06. Know that Purusha—who alone is to be known and in whom the universe (or the parts) rest like the spokes in the center of a wheel—so that death may not affect you.

07. Pippalāda said to them: As far as I know, there is nothing higher than the ParaBrahman.

08. The students worshipping him said: You, indeed, are our father—you have taken us across our ocean of ignorance to the spiritual shore of Knowledge. Adoration to the supreme rishis! Adoration to the supreme rishis!

Appendix: it is also said that the Supreme Being has all the following sixteen transcendental Kalā (powers, virtues):

(1) shrih (Opulence), (2) bhuva (Land, Property), (3) kīrtih (Fame), (4) ilā (Communicator), (5) lilā (Pleasure, pastime), (6) kāntih (Radiance, Beauty), (7) vidyā (Knowledge), (8) Vimala (Void of flaws), (9) Utkarshini (Motivator), (10) Gnāna (Wisdom), (11) Kriyā (Action),  (12) Yoga (uniter), (13) Prahvi (Humility), (14) Satya (immortality), (15) Ishana (Lord), and (16) Anugraha (Bestower of boon). 






Explanation of : Om! purnamadah purnamidam …….

(The most important shloka of the Vedas)

Om! purnamadah purnamidam, purnāt purnam-udacyate

The dictionary meanings of the most important word "Purna" in this verse are: full, whole, complete, boundless, accomplished, powerful, infinite, limitless etc. The word limitless (Ananta) has been used to describe Brahman in the Vedas and the Upanishads. We have chosen the word limitless or infinite for the word “Purna” here.

Mathematically, the word "limitless" fits better than any other word to describe the indescribable Brahman in our opinion. Taittiriya Upanishad (verse 2.1.1) defines Brahman as: s=ty=], N=n=], an=nt=m=< v=>É [Satyam (Reality), Gnānam (Knowledge), Anantam (Infinite)]. This Upanishad also states Brahman is that from which everything comes, and is sustained by, and into which everything enters in the end (verse 3.1.1).

Looking at any literal translation, a new student or any first time reader of Vedānta can get confused. But, as we will see, this verse is very profound. It  is so profound that some one said: Let all the Upanishads and Vedic literatures disappear from the face of the earth, I don’t mind so long as this one verse survives and remains engraved in the mind of even a single individual. This is not an ordinary verse. It  contains the Vedic vision, the universal Truth of oneself. It  answers the fundamental question: Who am I and how can I live a peaceful and happy life in the world full of chaos?

The first part of this great mantra says that everything, known objects of the world or unknown spirit (Ātmā), is nothing but the limitless Brahman. The Bhagavad-Gita also says in verse 7.24: Everything is Brahman (v==s=udev=/ s=v=*m=< wit=). There is nothing that is not Brahman. There is Brahman only and nothing else in the universe and that Brahman is limitless, infinite, one of a kind, and the source and sink of the entire cosmos.

Our experience indicates that all the objects that we see seem to be limited in space, time, and in many other ways. Then how can everything in the universe and the world be unlimited? Ātmā or spirit is considered limitless, but how can visible objects, such the world and our bodies, be called infinite? Can we call everything as infinite? The ocean can be called limitless, but not the waves. Some waves are quite large, some are small, but all are limited in time and space. The waves appear limited as long as we look at the waves and the ocean as separate or "dual" entities. If we consider the wave as part and parcel of ocean, or consider both the ocean and the wave as water only, then the wave is limitless like the ocean.

From a non-dualistic viewpoint if ocean is limitless, so is the wave, because both the ocean and the wave are a single, non-dual entity. Thus from a dualistic view point, the wave "appears" incomplete, and limited, but is really infinite as the ocean itself. Thus, if there is only a single entity, then the question of one being infinite or complete and the other limited or finite does not arise at all. If we consider we are not the body, but the infinite spirit residing in the bodies, then, we are limitless and infinite. Duality is apparent, not real.

The negation of duality means negation of the reality of duality, but not the negation of appearance or experience of duality. The experience of duality that we see in real life is apparent or relative, called unreal in Vedānta. From a dualistic viewpoint, a small wave is afraid of being swallowed by the large wave and prays to the ocean for protection from large waves. This is what prayers and worships are. From a non-dualistic point of view, there is no such fear. Everything in the world is an interaction, a play, a cosmic drama, only. Vedānta acknowledges duality as apparent—not real—experience of difference between various objects. The Unity appears diversified. The experience of non-duality brings joy and bliss. Even a temporary escape from duality and the experience of non-duality during Samadhi (or super-conscious state of mind) brings bliss and peace. The elimination of duality in Samadhi is temporary and beyond reach of everybody. A complete and full negation of the reality of duality has a permanent, wonderful, blissful, effect on our entire psyche.

The experience of duality does not create problem as long as we fully understand that duality is apparent and not real. And I am not different or separate from the world, and the world is not different from me. Everything is Brahman only. The limitless, infinite or non-dual Brahman also means that no entity other than Brahman exists in the cosmos. Brahman is both the creator and the creation. In other words, Brahman is both the material and efficient or instrumental cause of the creation, the cosmos. There is no other cause or existence, except Brahman.

Vedānta cites two beautiful examples of how one and the same entity can be both the material and instrumental cause of creation. One example is that of the spider who creates its web from the material within itself. The spider is both: the creator and creation, the web. The entire creation, both visible and invisible, comes out during the creative cycle and gets dissolved or sucked into Brahman during great dissolution (BG 9.07). Brahman brings the material from within, weaves the beautiful and wonderful tapestry called the cosmos, and takes it all within again and again, just as the spider does.

Another example is the dream world where the dreamer is both the material and instrumental cause of his dream world. The cosmos is created as the cosmic mind’s dream creation. When we dream, both the subject (or the creator) and the objects, the dream world (or the creation), happen to be the dreamer himself. The dreamer’s mind is both the material and creative cause of the dream. When we fight a dream-war in a dream-battlefield, the warriors on both sides—the bombs, bullets, rocky terrain, the land mines, nurses, ambulance and medical supplies—are all none other than the dreamer himself.

Thus, the first half of this great Upanishadic verse beautifully tells in a nutshell that the limitless Brahman is both the material and efficient causes of creation. The creation comes from the creator, and both the creation and the creator are infinite and the same. There is no entity in the cosmos other than the creator. He has become all, and He is all, and He is in all. The Creator undergoes no real change to become the creation.

Now, what happens to the infinite when infinite creations come out of it during creation and goes into it during dissolution is explained in the second half of the verse that states:

purnasya purnamādāya, purnam-eva-avashishyate

After taking away the infinite creation from the infinite Brahman during the creative cycle or adding infinite universes to the infinite Brahman during the great dissolution, the infinite Brahman alone remains in His infinite Universal form. This can be mathematically expressed as: infinity plus or minus infinity, equals infinity. This infinite Universal form of Krishna, the Brahman, was revealed to Arjuna and is described in the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita in a great detail.

The limitless Brahman remains unchanged even after countless universes come out of it. What kind of change does the limitless transcendental form have to undergo to produce limitless visible and invisible worlds? Actually, there is no real change during the process of this transformation because nothing is created or destroyed in the universe. It  just changes form, and a name-change goes with the new form. According to the law of conservation of energy, energy or matter can never be created or destroyed, but only can be transformed from one form to another; from the invisible form to the visible form and vice-versa. Much later, Einstein came up with the same conclusion when he proposed his famous equation: E= mc2. Thus Brahman does not undergo any intrinsic change when infinite, visible cosmos come out of it. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita that the visible infinite world is just a tiny fraction of His energy (BG 10.41-42).

Several examples can be given of such a change. The dreamer does not undergo any change when the objects of the dream-world come out of him. Cotton appears as cloth without undergoing a real change. The cloth is nothing but cotton in a different form. The gold chain is made from gold without any real change in gold itself. Similarly, clay becomes a pot. Clay remains clay before the creation of the pot, during the creation of the pot, and after the pot is destroyed. There was no pot ever; it was clay all the time. Clay appeared as pot. Water appears as ocean, waves and bubbles; gold became a chain; dreamer became dream objects without undergoing any real change. Similarly, the rope appears as snake in the darkness of night, and the non-dual Brahman appears as dual world due to our mental conditioning created by the darkness of ignorance. The visible world and all its objects are nothing but the invisible—but not formless—Brahman only. This verse leads us to discover that I am not this body, but the limitless spirit which I longed to be.