The Agni Purana

by N. Gangadharan | 1954 | 360,691 words | ISBN-10: 8120803590 | ISBN-13: 9788120803596

This page describes Knowledge of Brahman again which is chapter 379 of the English translation of the Agni Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas dealing with all topics concerning ancient Indian culture, tradition and sciences. Containing roughly 15,000 Sanskrit metrical verses, subjects contained in the Agni-Purana include cosmology, philosophy, architecture, iconography, economics, diplomacy, pilgrimage guides, ancient geography, gemology, ayurveda, etc.

Chapter 379 - Knowledge of Brahman again

Fire-god said:

1. (The votary) reaches the region of the gods by (performing) sacrificial rites and the region of Virāṭ by (doing) penance. By renouncing actions (one would gain the place) of Brahmā. By detachment (one would get) absorbed in nature.

2. Liberation is got by means of knowledge. These are known to be the five courses. Detachment is turning away from the feelings of happiness, torment, grief etc.

3. Renunciation is giving up all actions already performed together with those yet to be performed. (By such means) one would get free from the difference of change beginning with the unmanifest and ending with discrimination.

4. Knowledge is said to arise from knowing (the soul) as different from the animate and inanimate things. The Supreme Soul, the Supreme Lord is the sustainer of all things.

5. He is glorified in the Vedas and the philosophical treatises by the name of (lord) Viṣṇu. That lord of the sacrificial rites (known as) Yajñapuruṣa is worshipped by those who are engaged in that.

6. That embodiment of knowledge is perceived by those who have abstained from (doing actions) by means of association with knowledge. That Supreme Being (is referred to) as speech (consisting of the sounds) short, long and protracted etc.

7. O Great sage! The action that is the means of attaining Him is said to be knowledge. The knowledge is said to be twofold: that which is explained in the Āgamas[1] and (that which is obtained) from discrimination.

8. The Śabdabrahman (Brahman composed of sound) is an embodiment of the Āgamas and the Supreme Brahman is the knowledge arising from discrimination. One should know the two Brahmans—the Śabdabrahman and the Supreme Brahman.

9. Learning in the form of the Vedas and the like (is known as) aparam [apara] (not the supreme). The imperishable Brahman is the supreme (learning). This (Brahman) is denoted by the term “Bhagavān” (prosperous) in service, worship and other acts. (The letters of the word mean as follows:)

10. The syllable ‘bha’ has twosenses—bhartā (protector) and sambhartā one who collects or hoards). O Great sage! The letter ‘ga’ (means) the leader, the conveyor and the creator.

11. The word ‘bhaga’ (which is the combination of the letters bha and ga) means the six: the entire wealth, valour, fame, fortune, knowledge and detachment.

12. All the things exist in (lord) Viṣṇu. That Supreme Spirit is threefold. In the same way (the word) Bhagavān (is used) in the case of (lord) Hari and elsewhere as a courtesy.

13. He knows the creation, destruction, the coming and going of the beings, true knowledge and nescience and hence is designated ‘Bhagavān’.

14. The term ‘Bhagavān’ connotes knowledge, power, supreme opulence, strength and splendour in entirety without the bad qualities fit to be avoided.

15-16a. In olden time, Khāṇḍikya Keśidhvaja imparted to (King) Janaka[2], the yoga (as follows): The seed of the origin through ignorance is twofold: the notion of self in things which are not the self and the notion that self and body are identical.

16b-20. The soul enshrined in the body made of five elements and engulfed in illusion and darkness entertains the bad thought ‘I am this’. In the same way a person (entertains the thought) in the sons, grandsons etc. and their progeny. The learned (entertain) similar notion with respect to the physical bodies of others. A man does work for the welfare of all the bodies (men). But a person (begins to think) that those bodies are different; it becomes a cause for the bondage. This spotless soul is verily of the form of liberation and knowledge. Impiety of the form of painful experience belongs to the prakṛti and not to the soul. Just as water cannot be united with fire and a union is brought about by means of the intervening vessel, (pain and illusion though they do not belong to the soul, appear as though associated with the soul).

21. O Great sage! The sounds such as ‘ka’ etc. (are said to be) the result of its action. In the same way, the soul uniting with prakṛti, is endowed with the feeling of the self.

22. (The self seems) to enjoy all the bodily attributes. But it is different from them and it is without any modification. The contact (of the mind) with the things is for bondage and one should withdraw his mind from the things of the senses.

23. After having withdrawn it from the things, one should think of (lord) Hari, the one identical with Brahman. O Sage! It leads a person meditating on Brahman to gain the state of Brahman.

24-25a. After due thought (one should strive) by means of one’s own effort. (The attraction of Brahman) would be like the magnet (drawing) the iron. It is said to be yoga which is the union of the distinct mental path with Brahman dependent on one’s effort.

25b-27a. (The mind) steady in a state of deep meditation, attains the Supreme Brahman. By means of self-control, by withholding the senses from the objects, conquering the winds by doing retention of breath, regulation of breath and subjugating the senses by means of withdrawal of breath, one should make the mind steady in the auspicious repose.

27b-28. Brahman, that is to be resorted to by the mind, is twofold, namely, embodied and not embodied. (The sages) Sanandana and others were endowed with the thought of being Brahman, while the gods and other created beings (gained elevation) by means of action.

29-32. In the case of the golden egg etc., it is twofold such as due to knowledge and action. The mental activity is said to be threefold. The whole universe is contemplated as Brahman. That knowledge which is of the form of pure existence, beyond the reach of expression, that which does not possess the sense of being different and which could be known by the soul is designated as Brahman. That is the Supreme Form of (lord) Viṣṇu, devoid of form, unborn and indestructible. It is difficult to contemplate at first (the formless). Hence one has to meditate on the embodied form (at first). Such a person would become indistinct from the Supreme Soul by attaining the state of absence of the attitude of possession. (The feeling of) his difference would be due to his ignorance.

Footnotes and references:


The sacred texts explaining the nature of Śiva or Viṣṇu and the methods of worshipping them.


The famous king of Mithilā; known for his knowledge; became an anchorite in later days.

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