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 VI (Sixth Upadeśa)

Nārada addressing Brahma asked: "O Lord! You said of abhyāsa (practice) according to the analogy of wasp and the worm. What is that practice?"

To which the Grandfather replied thus:—

"One (viz., an ascetic) should live with true speech and jñāna-vairāgya and with the body alone as the remaining (possession). Know jñāna alone as the body, vairāgya alone as prāṇa, śānti (mental control) and dānti (bodily control) as the eyes, manas alone as the face, buddhi alone as kalā (parts of effulgence), the twenty-five tattvas as the limbs, the avasthās as the five great elements, karma, bhakti, jñāna, and vairāgya as the branches (or parts) and that the waking, dreaming, dreamless sleeping, and turya avasthās and the fourteen organs as being of the nature of a pillar planted in the mud. Though such is the case, the man who masters these through his buddhi like a boatman regarding the boat immersed in the mire, or the elephant-driver regarding the elephant (under his control), and has known that all else beside Self is illusory and destructible and become indifferent, should ever utter: 'I am Brahman alone.' He should not know anything as other than Self. A Jivanmukta who lives thus is a doer of that which should be done. He should not discourse that he is other than Brahman. But he should ever be discoursing: 'I am Brahman'. From the waking, dreaming and dreamless sleeping states, he should reach the turya state and then turyātīta (the state beyond turya). The waking state is in the day; the dreaming in the night and the dreamless sleeping in tie midnight. Each avasthā (or state) has its sub-states. The functions of the fourteen organs, eye and others mutually dependent are the following: The eyes perceive forms; the ears, sounds; the tongue perceives tastes; the nose, odours; the vocal organ speaks; the hand lifts; the leg walks; the anus excretes; the sexual organ enjoys; the skin feels; the buddhi perceives objects, being under the control of the organs; through buddhi, he understands; through citta, he thinks; through ahaṅkāra, he says I'. All these should be abandoned. Through the identification with the house (the body), he, like a householder, becomes a jīva thinking that the body is itself.

"The jīva is dwelling in this body. When he is in the eastern petal (of the heart), he inclined to virtuous actions; in the south-eastern petal, to sleep and laziness; in the southern petal, to cruel actions; in the south-western petal, to sinful actions; in the western petal, to love of sport (or to flirt); in the north-western petal, to travelling; in the northern petal, to peace of mind; in the north-eastern petal, to jñāna; in (the middle of) the pericarp, to vairāgya; in the filament, to Ātmā-deliberation. Such are the different aspects to be understood (in the heart). The first living avasthā (of jīva) is the waking; the second is the dreaming; the third is the dreamless sleeping; the fourth turya; that which is not these four is turyātīta. The one Lord alone that is witness and without qualities appears (as many) through the differences of Viśva, Taijasa, Prājña, and Tatastha (the neutral). One should (always) utter: 'I am Brahman alone.' Else in the waking state, (he is) in the four states of the waking state and others:[1] in the dreaming state, (he is) in the four states of the dreaming state and others; in the dreamless sleeping state, (he is) in the four states of the dreamless sleeping and others; in the turya, (he is) in the four states of turya and others; to the turyātīta that is nirguṇa, such states are not. There is only one witness in all the states of Viśva, Taijasa and Prājña, who is presiding over the gross, the subtle and the causal (bodies). Is Tatastha the seer? or is he not? As (to Tatastha), there is the property of seeing; the jīva that is affected by the egoism, etc., of agency and enjoyment is not the seer. The one other than jīva (viz., Tatastha) is not concerned (with egoism, etc.). If it is said that the jīva is not so (concerned with egoism), then it is not a fact. Through the abhimāna of the jīva, there is the abhimāna of the body. And (conversely) through the abhimāna of the body, there is the abhimāna of the jīva. The state of the jīva is as a screen (to screen Brahman) like (the pot and house in) the pot-ākāś and the house-ākāś. Through such a screen, he reaches self-realisation through the mantra—'Haṃsa-So’ham'[2] having the characteristics of inspiration and expiration. Having known thus, if he should give up the identification with the body, then he does not identify himself with the body (i.e., not attain the state of jīva). Such a one is stated to be Brahman. Having given up abhimāna and anger, being content with moderate food, having conquered the organs and having controlled the avenues (of the organs), one should make the mind enter into meditation. The yogin who has always controlled (his mind and organs) should ever diligently commence his meditation in empty places, caves and forests. The knower of yoga who is bent upon accomplishing the end should never be engaged in giving feasts to Brāhmaṇas, in śrāddha sacrifices, etc., or in going to places of pilgrimages, festivals or crowds. The well-controlled yogin should go about as if people had treated him with disrespect. He should not go against the actions of the wise. That great ascetic is said to be a tridandin (or having a three-knotted staff) who holds firmly the three-daṇḍa (control) of mind, speech, and body. That ascetic is said to be a supreme person who begs alms-food of worthy brāhmaṇas, when smoke has ceased and fire has been extinguished (in their houses). Is he not a degraded ascetic who, though holding the staff and begging food, is without vairāgya and is not intent upon the observances of his order? He is an ascetic—not any other—who does not go to the house where he expects to find special alms or which he already visited. He is said to transcend all castes and orders of life who realises the self-shining supreme Tattva that is without body and organs, the all-witness, the real vijñāna that is of the form of bliss. To the Ātmā that is of the nature of jñāna, such an idea as: 'the order of life, etc., is mine,' being generated out of māyā in this body, can never exist. He who knows thus through vedānta is beyond all castes and orders of life. He from whom all castes and orders of life slip away through Ātmic vision, transcends them all and remains in Ātmā alone. That person is said by knower of the meaning of the Vedas to be ativarṇāśramī (beyond caste and order of life) who after crossing all castes and orders of life abides in Ātmā alone. Therefore, O Nārada, the castes and orders of life which are foreign (to Ātmā) are attributed falsely, by the ignorant, to Ātmā. O Nārada, for those that are Brahma-jñānīs, there are no rules ordained nor prohibited; there is nothing to be given up or not; similarly nothing else (for them). Having attained indifference to all objects even up to Brahmā's seat, having destroyed (or done away with) all fondness for everything, as for son, relatives, wife, etc., and having faith in the path of salvation, and through love of vedānta-jñāna, he should approach a guru who is a knower of Brahman with gift (in his hand). Having an equilibrated mind, he should satisfy the guru for a long time through service, etc., and learn with a steady firm mind the meaning of the sentences of the Vedas. Then being devoid of 'I' and 'mine' and of all attractions, and having attained peace of mind, etc., he sees Ātmā in himself. Through observing the faults of saṃsāra, there arises indifference. There is no doubt that sannyāsa arises in one who becomes disgusted with saṃsāra. The aspirant after salvation who is called paramahaṃsa should, through the hearing, etc., of vedānta, practise Brahma-jñāna, which is the direct and chief means of salvation. In order to attain Brahma-jñāna, the one named paramahaṃsa should possess the qualities of the control of mind and body, etc. He should always he a practiser of vedānta, being master of the mind, the body and the organs, being without fear and egoism, with a firm mind, without the pairs (of opposites), without attaching himself to any, having a worn-out loin-cloth, and being bald-headed or naked. He should have the great intelligence of the knower of vedānta, a yogin without 'I' and 'mine' and being equal and friendly to friends and other beings. That jñānī alone and none else is able to cross saṃsāra who has his mind at peace. With the grace of the guru towards him, he should live with him for one year. He should be careful to observe yama (restraint) and niyama (religious observance). At the end of that (year), he should attain the supreme jñāna-yoga, and roam about on this earth without going against dharma; (or) at the end of one year, he should give up the three orders of life and attain the chief āśrama (of sannyāsa), as well as the supreme jñāna-yoga. Then, taking leave of the guru, he should wander over the earth, having given up association (with wife, etc., as well as anger, and being content with moderate food and having controlled the senses. The householder who does not perform karma, and the ascetic who performs karma—both become fallen through their perverse doings. Each becomes intoxicated through seeing women. Each becomes intoxicated through drinking alcohol. Therefore women, mere sight of whom is poison, should be shunned at a distance. Such things as conversation and proximity with, and sight of, women, dancing, singing, using violence against persons, and disputatious arguments should be given up. Therefore, O Nārada, to such a one, there is neither bath nor muttering of mantras nor worship nor homa, nor means of accomplishment, nor any karma of fire-sacrifice, etc., nor worshipping with flowers, etc., nor karmas to the pitṛs nor pilgrimages, nor religious observances, nor dharmas, nor adharmas, nor any rules of observance, nor any other worldly karmas. He should give up all karmas and worldly observances. That yogin of an ascetic who is a learned person, having his intelligence directed towards Reality, should never injure any worm or insect, bird or tree. O Nārada, roam through the world with vision ever directed inwards, with purity, with mind under control, with a mind that is full of Brahman and all attraction given up within. The muni that goes about alone, does (or should) not dwell in countries where there is no king. (In his case), there is neither praise nor prostration, nor the propitiation of devas or pitṛs. Thus the ascetic who has his abode changeful (in body), or changeless (in Ātmā), should be content with whatever he gets. Thus is the Upaniṣad."

Footnotes and references:


Probably "others" refer to the subdivisions of the dreaming; so also of other states.


With Hamsa, there is the inspiration, and with So’ham, there is the expiration.

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