Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad of Atharvaveda

by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1914 | 14,587 words

This is the English translation of the Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad (belonging to the Atharvaveda): a minor Sanskrit treatise selected amongst a collection 108 extant upanishads, dating to at least the 1st millennium BC. The Narada-parivrajaka-upanishad describes the lifestyle of a sannyasi, a Hindu monk who renounced life according to the Ashrama...

Chapter IV (fourth upadeśa)

"One who after giving up the world, the Vedas, the objects and the organs is in Ātmā alone, attains the supreme abode. A good ascetic should not make known his caste, name, gotra (clan), etc., his place and time, the Vedas, etc. studied by him, his family, age, history, observance, and conduct. He should neither converse with women nor remember the women he had seen. He should give up all stories connected with women. He should not even see the figure of a woman in a picture. The mind of an ascetic who through delusion adopts the above four things connected with women is necessarily affected and thereby perishes. The following are prohibited (in his case): Thirst, malice, falsehood, deceit, greed, delusion, the pleasant and the unpleasant, manual work, lecture, yoga, kāma (passion), desire, begging, I-ness, mine-ness, the obstinacy of curing diseases, penance, pilgrimage and the accomplishment of fruits of mantras, and medicines. He who performs these interdicted things, goes into a debased state. A muni who has mokṣa as his supreme seat should address such respectful words as "Please come, please go, please stay, and welcome" to one, even though he be his intimate friend. He should neither receive presents, etc., nor ask for them to be given to others. Even in dream, an ascetic should never direct a person (to do work for him). Even should he witness or hear of the happiness or grief of his wife, brother, son, and other relatives, he should not be affected thereby. He should abandon all joy and sorrow.

"To the ascetics controlling their mind, the following are their svadharmas (own duties): Harmlessness, truth, honesty, celibacy, non-coveting, humility, high-spiritedness, clearness of mind, steadiness of mind, straightforwardness, non-attachment (to any), service to the guru, faith, patience, bodily restraint, mental restraint, indifference, firm and sweet words, endurance, compassion, shame, jñāna, vijñāna, yoga, moderate food, and courage. That paramahaṃsa of an ascetic in the order of life of a sannyāsin who is without dualities, always follows the pure sattvaguṇa and sees all equally, is no other than the actual Nārāyaṇa Himself. He may live one day in a village and five days in a city, but five months in the wintry season. At other times he should live in other places (such as forest, etc.). He should not live in a village for two days (even); should he do so, desires and the rest will arise in him and thereby he becomes fit for hell. He should live like a (harmless) worm on the earth with his mind under control and with no settled place of residence, at the end of the village where there are no persons. He may live in the same place in the wintry season. He should roam about on the earth with one or no cloth, with the one vision (of Brahman) alone, with no desires (of objects), with no condemnation of the actions of the wise and with meditation. That yogin of an ascetic should go about, observing the duties of his order of life, and with the eyes cast on the earth, in pure places. He should not roam about in night, midday or the two twilight periods in which are places void or difficult to be waded through or likely to injure living creatures. He may live for one day in a village, for three days in a town, for two days in a hamlet and for five days in a city. He may live in the wintry season (longer) in one place surrounded fully by water. The ascetic should regard all creatures as Self and dwell upon earth like the blind, the hunchback, the deaf, the insane, and the dumb. The bahūdaka and the forester should bathe thrice a day. In the case of haṃsa, one bath only is ordained; but none in the case of a paramahaṃsa. In the case of the one having one staff, seven things are ordained, viz., silence, yoga-posture, yoga, endurance, solitariness, desirelessness, and equal vision over all. Bathing being not prescribed for a paramahaṃsa, he should abandon all the modifications of the mind only; what is the difference between the worms and the men that rejoice over this ill-smelling body which is but a collection of skin, flesh, blood, nerves, fat, marrow, bone, offal and urine? What is the body but a collection of all, phlegm, etc.? And what are the qualities, the vāsana of the body, effulgence, beauty, etc.? (They are opposed to one another.) The ignorant man that is fond of this body, which is but a compound of flesh, blood, the ill-smelling urine and offal, nerve, fat and bone, will be fond of hell too. Though there is no difference between the women's secret parts that cannot be described by words and an (ever) oozing tubular wound, yet through the difference of the mind, (men are deluded). Such men are said to be without prāṇa, (viz., dead) though alive. Prostrations to those that sport in that piece of flesh which is rent in twain and tainted with the breaking of the wind, etc. What more revolting thing is there than this?

"To the wise, there is nothing to do, no sign (of identification). The muni who is without 'mine' and fear, with quiescence, without duality and eating leaf (alone), should ever be in meditation with either loin-cloth or no cloth. A yogin who is thus in meditation becomes fit to be Brahman. Though he may have some signs (of identification to pass under this order of life or that), such signs are useless for gaining mokṣa. The cause of salvation is jñāna alone. He is a (true) brāhmaṇa who cannot be identified as sat (good person) or asat, knower of religious books or not, follower of good conduct or bad conduct. Therefore that learned man who is without signs, a knower of dharma, engaged in the actions of Brahman and a knower of the secret mysteries, should roam about, incognito. He should go about on this earth without any caste or order of life and without being (even) doubted (regarding his identity) by any beings, like the blind, the idiot, or the mute. Then (even) the angels become fond of him who has a quiescent mind. It is the dictate of the Vedas that the sign (of non-identification) itself is Kaivalya."

Then Nārada asked the Grandfather about the rules of sannyāsa. To which Brahma- assented and said: "Before either the ātura or regular sannyāsa is taken, kṛcchra penance should be done and then the eight śrāddhas. In each of the (eight) śrāddhas, two brāhmaṇas should be fed, in lieu of Viśvedevas called Satyavasu and the (Trimūrtis called) Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Maheśvara, in Devaśrāddha first; then in Ṛṣiśrāddha in lieu of Devaṛṣi, Rājaṛṣi, and Manuṣyaṛṣi; then in Divyaśrāddha, in lieu of Vasu, Rudra, and Ādityas; then in manuṣyaśrāddha in lieu of Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumāra, and Sanatsujāta; then in bhūtaśrāddha, in lieu of the five great elements, pṛthivī, etc., eye and other organs and the four kinds of collections of bhūtas; then in Pitṛśrāddha, in lieu of father, grandfather and great-grandfather; then in mātṛśrāddha, in lieu of mother, mother's father and mother's grandfather; and then in Ātmaśrāddha, in lieu of himself, his father and grandfather or of himself, grandfather and great-grandfather, should his father be alive. He should perform the eight śrāddhas in one day, or eight days, with the mantras of his śākhā in one yājñapakṣa or eight yājñapakṣas. Then he should worship and feed the brāhmaṇas according to the rules contained in pitṛyajña. Then offering the piṇḍas (balls of rice to the pitṛs), he should gladden the brāhmaṇas with the tāmbūla (nut and betel, etc.,) presents and dismiss them. Then for the accomplishment of the remaining karmas, he should pluck off seven hairs; then again for finishing the rest of the karmas, he should hold seven or eight hairs and have the head shaved. Except his arm-pit and secret parts, he should have the hairs of his head, whiskers and mustache and nails shaved. After shaving, he should bathe and perform the evening sandhyā, uttering Gāyatrī a thousand times. Then performing brahmayajña, he should establish his own fire and acting up to his śākhā, should perform the oblation of ghee according to what is said therein till the ājya portion with those (mantras beginning with) Ātmā, etc.; he should eat thrice the fried rice-powder, and then sipping the water, he should maintain the fire; then seated north of the fire on a deer-skin, he should be engaged in the study of Purāṇas; without sleeping, he should bathe at the end of the four yāmas and after cooking the oblation of (rice) in the fire, he should offer it to the fire in sixteen oblations according to (the mantras of) Puruṣa-Sūkta. Then having done virajāhoma and sipped water, he should close it with the gift (to brāhmaṇas) of cloth, golden vessel, and cows along with presents of money and then dismiss Brahmā (who had been invoked). With the prescribed mantra, he should attract Agni (fire) unto himself. After meditating upon and coming round and prostrating before the fire, he should dismiss it. Then in the morning performing sandhyā and uttering Gāyatrī a thousand times, he should make upaṣṭhāna (worship) to the sun. Then descending into water up to the navel, he should make arghya (water-offering) to the guardians of the eight quarters; then he should give leave to Gāyatrī, making Sāvitrī enter into vyāhṛti.

The mantra prescribed for this should be uttered through the mind and voice in high, middling, and low tones.

With the mantra,

abhayaṃ sarvabhūtebhyo mataḥ sarvaṃ pravartate |

a the water should be sipped and having taken the water with the two hands, it should be dropped on the east. Having uttered “svāhā”, he should pluck his hair (yet left) and uttering the prescribed mantra and having torn off the sacred thread and taken it in the hand with water, should utter “oṃ bhūḥ”: 'go to the ocean' and cast them down as oblation in water:—“oṃ bhūḥ saṃtyastaṃ mayā | oṃ”. Having uttered thrice and saturated thrice (the water) with (the influence of) the mantra, he should sip the water; and then uttering the mantras “oṃ bhūḥ”, etc., he should cast aside in water the cloth and waist-cord. Having thought himself to be the abdicator of all karmas, he, being in the meditation of his own Reality as nature made him, should go as before northwards with hands upraised. Should he be a sannyāsin learned (in the Vedas, etc.), he should get himself initiated into Praṇava from his teacher and go about at his own free will with the thought of there being none other but his Self, and feeding his body with fruits, leaves and water, live in mountains, forest and temples. That lover of salvation who after sannyāsa roams about naked in all places with his heart full of the enjoyment of Ātmic bliss, with the fruit of avoidance of karmas and maintaining his life with fruits, juice, barks, leaves, roots and water should abandon his body in mountain caves, uttering the Praṇava. But an aspirant after wisdom, should he become a sannyāsin, should, after walking a hundred steps, be addressed by the teacher and other Brāhmans thus: "O Mahābhāga (very fortunate person), stay, stay, wear the staff, cloth and bowl, come to the teacher in order to learn the meaning of Praṇava mantra vākya". He should then take up the waist-cord, loin-cloth, red-coloured cloth and bowl. A bamboo staff which is not injured from top to bottom, equal, beautiful, and not spotted with black, should be worn by him, after sipping the water and uttering the mantra prescribed for the purpose.

Then the bowl should be taken up, after uttering the mantra with the Praṇava preceding it:—

oṃ jagajjīvanaṃ jīvanādhārabhūtaṃ māteva mā mantrayasva sarvadā sarva saumya ||

Then after first uttering (the mantra):

guhyācchādanaṃ kaupīnaṃ oṃ | śītavātoṣṇatrāṇakaraṃ dehaikarakṣaṇam vas??aṃ oṃ ||

he should take up the waist-cord, loin-cloth and cloth with the ācamana (sipping of water) preceding it.

"Thus consecrated with yoga and thinking that he had done all that should be done, he should be firm in the observances of his order of life. Thus is the Upaniṣad."

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