Selected Quotations From The Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita
Compiled by Stuart R. Kerr, III
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
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 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.
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
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.
"This is That" -- thus they realize the ineffable joy
supreme. How can "This" be known? Does he give light or does he reflect
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.
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
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
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
The Spirit supreme is immeasurable, inapprehensible, beyond conception,
never-born, beyond reasoning, beyond thought. His vastness is the vastness of
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.
Words and mind go to him, but reach him not and return. But he
who knows the joy of Bra, fears no more.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
3. Among thousands of men Perchance one strives for perfection;
Even of those that strive and are perfected, Perchance one knows Me in very
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.
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
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.
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!