Tarasara Upanishad of Shukla-Yajurveda

by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1914 | 1,058 words

This is the English translation of the Tarasara Upanishad (belonging to the Shukla-Yajurveda): a minor Sanskrit treatise selected amongst a collection 108 extant upanishads, dating to at least the 1st millennium BC. The Tarasara-upanishad instructs how to use the syllable ‘om’ for yogic meditation and reveals the the “Om Namo Narayana” mantra. It ...

Contents of the Tārasāra Upaniṣad

[note: This Upaniṣad treats of the sāra (essence) for tāra (crossing).]

Om. Bṛhaspati asked Yājñavalkya: "That which is called Kurukṣetra is the place of the sacrifice of the Devas and the spiritual seat of all beings. Therefore where should one go in order that he may cognize Kurukṣetra, the place of the sacrifice of the Devas and the spiritual seat of all beings?" (To which Yājñavalkya replied:) "Avimukta[1] is Kurukṣetra, the place of the sacrifice of the Devas and of the study of Brahman, because it is there that Rudra initiates one into the Tāraka[2] Brahman when prāṇa (life) goes out. Through this, one becomes immortal and the enjoyer of mokṣa. Therefore one should always be in the midst of that place avimukta, and should never leave, O reverend sir, avimukta." Thus said Yājñavalkya.

Then Bhāradvāja asked Yājñavalkya: "What is tāraka? what is that which causes one to cross (this mundane existence)." To which Yājñavalkya replied: "Om-Namo-Nārāyaṇāya is the tāraka. It should be worshipped as Cidātma. Om is a single syllable and of the nature of Ātmā. N amah is of two syllables and is of the nature of prakṛti (matter). Nārāyarṇāya is of five syllables and is of the nature of Parabrahman. He who knows this becomes immortal. Through Om, is Brahma produced; through Na is Viṣṇu produced; through Ma is Rudra produced; through Nā is Īśvara produced; through Rā is the Aṇḍa-Virāt (or Virāt of the universe) produced; through Ya is Puruṣa produced; through Nā is Bhagavān (Lord) produced; and through Ya is Paramātmā produced. This Ashtākṣara (eight syllables) of Nārāyaṇa is the supreme and the highest Puruṣa. Thus is the Ṛgveda with the first foot (or half). That which is Om is the indestructible, the supreme, and Brahman. That alone should be worshipped. It is this that is of the eight subtle syllables. And this becomes eight, being of eight forms. A is the first letter; U is the second; M is the third; Bindu is the fourth; Nāda is the fifth; Kalā is the sixth; Kalātīta (that beyond kalā) is the seventh; and that which is beyond these is the eighth. It is called Tāraka, because it enables one to cross this mundane existence. Know that Tāraka alone is Brahman and it alone should be worshipped." The (following) verses may be quoted here: "From the letter A came Brahmā named Jāmbavān (the bear[3]). From the letter U came Upendra[4], named Hari. From the letter M came Śiva, known as Hanumān[5]. Bindu is named Īśvara and is Śatrughna, the Lord of the discus itself. Nāda should be known as the great Lord named Bharata and the sound of the conch itself. From Kalā came the Puruṣa himself as Lakṣmaṇa and the bearer of the earth. Kalātīta is known as the goddess Sītā Herself. That which is beyond is the Paramātmā named Śrī-Rāma and is the highest Puruṣa. All this is the explanation of the letter Om, which is the past, the present, and future, and which is other than these (viz.,) tattva, mantra, varṇa, (colour), devatā (deity), chandas (metre), ṛk, kāla, śakti, and sṛṣṭi (creation). He who knows this becomes immortal. (Thus is) Yajurveda with the second foot."

Then Bhāradvāja asked Yājñavalkya: "Through what mantra is Paramātmā pleased and shows his own Ātmā (to persons)? Please tell this." Yājñavalkya replied:

"(1st Mantra:) Om. He who is Śrī-Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, and the Lord described by (the letter) A and is Jāmbavān (the bear) and Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him."

"(2nd Mantra:) He who is Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, and the Lord described by (the letter) U and is Upendra (or) Hari and Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him.

"(3rd Mantra:) Om. He who is Śri-Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, and the Lord described by (the letter) M and is of the form of Śiva (or), Hanumān and Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him.

"(4th Mantra:) Om. He who is Śri-Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of Śatrughna[6] of the form of Bindu and the Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him.

"(5th Mantra:) Om. He who is Śri-Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, and the Lord, and is Bharata[6] of the form of Nāda and the Bhūḥ Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him.

"(6th Mantra:) Om. He who is Śri-Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, and the Lord, and is Lakṣmaṇa of the form of Kalā and the Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him.

"(7th Mantra:) Om. He who is Śri-Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, and the Lord, and is Kalātīta, the Goddess Sīta, of the form of Chit and the Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him.

"(8th Mantra:) Om. He who is Śri-Paramātmā, Nārāyaṇa, and the Lord that is beyond that (Kalātīta), is the supreme Puruṣa, and is the ancient Puruṣottama, the eternal, the immaculate, the enlightened, the emancipated, the true, the highest bliss, the endless, the secondless, and the all-full—that Brahman is myself. I am Rāma and the Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, and Suvaḥ: Salutation to Him."

He who has mastered this eightfold mantra is purified by Agni; he is purified by Vāyu; he is purified by the sun; he is purified by Śiva; he is known by all the Devas. He attains the fruit of reciting Itihāsas, Purāṇas, Rudra (Mantras), a hundred thousand times. He who repeatedly remembers (or recites) the Ashtākṣara (the eight-syllabled mantra) of Nārāyaṇa gains the fruit of the recitation of Gāyatrī a hundred thousand times or of Praṇava (Om) a myriad of times. He purifies (his ancestors) ten (degrees) above and (his descendants) ten (degrees) below. He attains the state of Nārāyaṇa. He who knows this (attains the state of Nārāyaṇa).

Like the eye (which sees without any obstacle) the things spread (in the sky), the wise ever see this supreme seat of Viṣṇu. Brāhmaṇas who are spiritually awake praise in diverse ways and illuminate the supreme abode of Viṣṇu. Thus is the Upaniṣad. (Thus is) the Sāmaveda with the third foot.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

It is one of the many names given to Benares.

[2]:

Tāraka is Om—from tṛ, to cross.

[3]:

As the bear, Brahmā, incarnated according to the 'Rāmāyaṇa'.

[4]:

As Upendra, Vishṇu incarnates in the lower tala as well in the legs in man.

[5]:

Hanumān is the incarnation of vāyu, one of the elements of Śiva.

[6]:

Bharaṭa is rather the incarnation of discus or consciousness and Satrughna, that of conch—via., ākāśic sound.

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