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Selected Quotations From The Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita

Compiled by Stuart R. Kerr, III

The Upanishads

Who sends the mind to wander afar? Who first drives life to start on its journey? Who impels us to utter these words? Who is the Spirit behind the eye and the ear?

It is the ear of the ear, the eye of the eye, and the Word of words, the mind of mind, and the life of life. Those who follow wisdom pass beyond and, on leaving this world, become immortal.

There the eye goes not, nor words, nor mind. We know not, we cannot understand, how he can be explained: He is above the known and he is above the unknown. Thus have we heard from the ancient sages who explained this truth to us.

Katha Upanishad

Part I

NACHIKETAS. There is no fear in heaven: old age and death are not there. the good, beyond both, rejoice in heaven, beyond hunger and thirst and sorrow.

And those in heaven attain immortality. You know, O' Death, that sacred fire which leads to heaven. Explain it to me, since I have faith. Be this my second boon.

DEATH. I know, Nachiketas, that sacred fire which leads to heaven. Listen. That fire which is the means of attaining the infinite worlds, and is also their foundation, is hidden in the sacred place of the heart.

Part 2

Not many hear of him; and of those not many reach him. Wonderful is he who can teach about him; and wise is he who can be taught. Wonderful is he who knows him when taught.

He cannot be taught by one who has not reached him; and he cannot be reached by much thinking. The way to him is through a Teacher who has seen him: He is higher than the highest thoughts, in truth above all thought.

DEATH. I will tell you the Word that all the VEDAS glorify, all self-sacrifice expresses, all sacred studies and holy life seek. That Word is OM.

That Word is the everlasting Brahman: that Word is the highest End. When that sacred Word is known, all longings are fulfilled. It is the supreme means of salvation: it is the help supreme. When that great Word is known, one is great in the heaven of Brahman.

Concealed in the heart of all beings is the Atman, the Spirit, the Self; smaller than the smallest atom, greater than the vast spaces. The man who surrenders his human will leaves sorrow behind, and beholds the glory of the Atman by the grace of the Creator.

Part 5

"This is That" -- thus they realize the ineffable joy supreme. How can "This" be known? Does he give light or does he reflect light?

There the sun shines not, nor the moon, nor the stars; lightnings shine not there and much less earthly fire. From his light all these give light, and his radiance illumines all creation.

Part 6

The whole universe comes from him and his life burns through the whole universe. In his power is the majesty of thunder. Those who know him have found immortality.

If one sees him in this life before the body passes away, one is free from bondage; but if not, one is born and dies again in new worlds and new creations.

Prasna Upanishad

First Question

The sage replied: In the beginning, the Creator longed for the joy of creation. He remained in meditation, and then came Rayi, matter, and Prana, life. 'These two', thought he, 'will produce beings for me.'

Mundaka Upanishad

Part I, Chapter I

He is beyond thought and invisible, beyond family and colour. He has neither eyes nor ears; he has neither hands nor feet. He is everlasting and omnipresent, infinite in the great and infinite in the small. He is the Eternal whom the sages see as the source of all creation.

Svetasvatara Upanishad

Part 1

By the Yoga of meditation and contemplation the wise saw the power of God, hidden in his owncreation. It is he who rules over all the sources of this universe, from time to the soul of man.

And they saw the Wheel of his power made of one circle, three layers, sixteen parts, fifty spokes, twenty counterspokes, six groups of eight, three paths, one rope of innumerable strands, and the great illusion:

There is the soul of man with wisdom and unwisdom, power and powerlessness; there is nature, Prakriti, which is creation for the sake of the soul; and there is God, infinite, omnipresent, who watches the work of creation. When a man knows the three, he knows Brahman.

Part 3

There is ONE in whose hands is the net of Maya, who rules with his power, who rules all the worlds with his power. He is the same at the time of creation and at the time of dissolution. Those who know him attain immortality.

He is Rudra, he alone is the ONE who governs the worlds with his power. He watches over all beings and rules over their creation and their destruction.

His eyes and mouths are everywhere, his arms and feet are everywhere. He is God who made heaven and earth, who gave man his arms and who gave to the birds their wings.

Greater than all is Brahman, the Supreme, the Infinite. He dwells in the mystery of all beings according to their forms in nature. Those who know him who knows all, and in whose glory all things are, attain immortality.

He is the inmost soul of all, which like a little flame the size of a thumb is hidden in the hearts of men. He is the master of wisdom ever reached by thought and love. He is the immortality of those who know him.

He has innumerable heads and eyes and feet, and his vastness enfolds the universe, and even a measure of ten beyond.

Concealed in the heart of all beings lies the Atman, the Spirit, the Self; smaller than the smallest atom, greater than the greatest spaces. When by the grace of God man sees the glory of God, he sees beyond him the world of desires and then sorrows are left behind.

Part 5

The soul can be thought as the part of a point of a hair which divided by a hundred were divided by a hundred again; and yet in this living soul there is the seed of Infinity.

The soul is not a man, nor a woman, now what is neither a woman nor a man. When the soul takes the form of a body, by that same body the soul is bound.

The soul is born and unfolds in a body, with dreams and desires and the food of life. And then it is reborn in new bodies, in accordance with its former works.

Maitri Upanishad

Part 2 Even as a man who is asleep awakes, but when he is asleep does not know that he is going to awake, so a part of the subtle invisible Spirit comes as a messenger to the body without the body being conscious of his arrival.

A part of Infinite consciousness becomes our own finite consciousness with powers of discrimination and definition, and with false conceptions. He is in truth Prajapati and Visva, the Source of creation and the Universal in us all.

Part 6

The Spirit supreme is immeasurable, inapprehensible, beyond conception, never-born, beyond reasoning, beyond thought. His vastness is the vastness of space.

At the end of the worlds, all things sleep: He alone is awake in Eternity. Then from his infinite space new worlds arise and awake, a universe which is a vastness of thought. In the consciousness of Brahman the universe is, and unto him it returns.

There are two ways of contemplation of Brahman: in sound and in silence. By sound we go to silence. The sound of Brahman is OM. With OM we go to the End: the silence of Brahman. The end is immortality, union and peace.

Even as a spider reaches the liberty of space by means of its own thread, the man of contemplation by means of OM reaches freedom.

Taittiriya Upanishad

Part 2

Words and mind go to him, but reach him not and return. But he who knows the joy of Bra, fears no more.

Part 8

There is a bridge between time and Eternity; and this bridge is Atman, the Spirit of man. Neither day nor night cross that bridge, nor old age, nor death nor sorrow.

Evil or sin cannot cross that bridge, because the world of the Spirit is pure. This is why when this bridge has been crossed, the eyes of the blind can see, the wounds of the wounded are healed, and the sick man becomes whole from his sickness.

To one who goes over that bridge, the night becomes like unto day; because in the worlds of the Spirit there is a Light which is everlasting.

The Supreme Teaching

(Waking and Dreaming)

The Spirit of man has two dwellings: this world and the world beyond. There is also a third dwelling-place: the land of sleep and dreams. Resting in this borderland the Spirit of man can behold his dwelling in this world and in the other world afar, and wandering in this borderland he beholds behind him the sorrows of this world and in front of him he sees the joys of the beyond.

(Deep Sleep)

As a man in the arms of the woman beloved feels only peace all around, even so the Soul in the embrace of Atman, the Spirit of vision feels only peace all around. All desires are attained, since the Spirit that is all has been attained, no desires are there, and there is no sorrow.


When the body falls into weakness on account of old age or disease, even as a mango-fruit, or the fruit of the holy fig-tree, is loosened from its stem, so the Spirit of man is loosened from the human body and returns by the same way to Life, wherefrom he came.

And even as a worker in gold, taking an old ornament, moulds it into a form newer and fairer, even so the Soul, leaving the body and unwisdom behind, goes into a form newer and fairer: a form like that of the ancestors in heaven, or of the celestial beings, or of the gods of light, or of the Lord of Creation, or of Brahma the Creator supreme, or a form of other beings.

The Bhagavad Gita

Chapter II

19 Who believes him a slayer And who thinks him slain, Both these understand not: He slays not, is not slain.

20. He is not born, nor does he ever die; Nor having come to be, will he ever come not to be. Unborn, eternal, everlasting, this ancient one Is not slain when the body is slain.

22. As leaving aside worn-out garments A man takes other, new ones, So leaving aside worn-out bodies To other, new ones goes the embodied (soul).

26. Moreover, even if constantly born Or constantly dying thou considerest him, Even so, great-armed one, thou Shouldst not mourn him,

30. This embodied (soul) is eternally unslayable In the body of everyone, son of Bharata; Therefore all beings Thou shouldst not mourn.

Chapter III

42. The sense, they say, are high; Higher than the senses is the thought-organ; But higher than the thought organ is the consciousness; While higher than the consciousness is He (the soul).

43.Thus being conscious of that which is higher than consciousness, Steadying the self by the self, Smite the enemy, great-armed one, that has the form of desire, and is hard to get at.

Chapter IV

6. Tho unborn, tho My self is eternal, The Lord of Beings, Resorting to My own material nature I come into being by My own mysterious power.

7. For whenever of the right A languishing appears, son of Bharata, A rising up of unright, Then I send Myself forth.

8. For protection of the good, And for the destruction of evil-doers, To make a firm footing for the right, I come into being in age after age.

Chapter V

6. But renunciation, great-armed one, Is hard to attain without discipline; Disciplined in discipline, to Bra the sage Goes in no long time.

7. Discipline in discipline, with purified self, Self-subdued, with the senses overcome, His self become (one with) the self of all beings, Even acting, he is not stained.

8. 'I am (in effect) doing nothing at all!' -- so The disciplined man should think, knowing the truth, When he sees, hears, touches, smells, Eats, walks, sleeps, breathes,

9. Talks, evacuates, grasps, Opens and shuts his eyes; 'The senses (only) on the objects of sense Are operating' -- holding fast to this thought.

Chapter VI

5. One should lift up the self by the self, And should not let the self down; For the self is the self's only friend, And the self is the self's only enemy

6. The self is a friend to that self By which self the very self is subdued; But to him that does not possess the self, in enmity Will abide his very self, like an enemy.

9. To friend, ally, foe, remote neutral, Holder of middle ground, object of enmity, and kinsman To good and evil men alike, Who has the same mental attitude, is superior.

10. Let the disciplined man ever discipline Himself, abiding in a secret place, Solitary, restraining his thoughts and soul, Free from aspirations and without possessions.

Chapter VII

3. Among thousands of men Perchance one strives for perfection; Even of those that strive and are perfected, Perchance one knows Me in very truth.

Chapter VIII

5. And at the hour of death, on Me alone Meditating, leaving the body Whoso dies, to My estate he Goes; there is no doubt of that.

Chapter IX

7. All beings, son of Kunti, Pass into My material nature At the end of a world-eon; them again I send forth at the beginning of a (new) world-eon.

8. Taking as base My own material-nature I send forth again and again This whole host of beings, which is powerless, by the power of (My) material nature.

29. I am the same to all beings, no one is hateful or dear to Me; but those who revere me with devotion, they are in Me and I too am in them.

30. Even if a very evil doer Reveres Me with single devotion He must be regarded as righteous in spite of all; For he has the right resolution.

31. Quickly his soul becomes righteous, And he goes to eternal peace. Son of Kunti, make sure of this: No devotee of Mine is lost.

Chapter XI

4. If Thou thinkest that it can Be seen by me, O Lord, Prince of mystic power, then do Thou to me Reveal Thine immortal Self.

The Blessed One said: 5. Behold My forms, son of Prtha, By hundreds and by thousands, Of various sorts, marvelous, Of various colors and shapes.

8. But thou canst not see Me With this same eye of thine own; I give thee a supernatural eye: behold My mystic power as God!