Taittiriya Upanishad

by A. Mahadeva Sastri | 1903 | 206,351 words | ISBN-10: 8185208115

The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads, part of the Yajur Veda. It says that the highest goal is to know the Brahman, for that is truth. It is divided into three sections, 1) the Siksha Valli, 2) the Brahmananda Valli and 3) the Bhrigu Valli. 1) The Siksha Valli deals with the discipline of Shiksha (which is ...

Lesson IV - Prayers for Health and Wealth

(Fourth Anuvāka)

In the third lesson contemplation of conjunction has been taught for the attainment of progeny and other fruits. From that indirectly accrues also the power of concentrating thought, a necessary condition for the attainment of a knowledge of Brahman. Now, no man who is wanting in retentive power of intellect, who forgets the teaching of scriptures once learned, can acquire a knowledge of Brahman. And no man who, owing to sickness and such other causes, lacks physical vigor, etc., or who suffers from want of food and clothing and the like, can apply himself to the study of the scriptures and such other means of acquiring a knowledge of Brahman. Therefore mantras conducive to the attainment of retentive power of intellect and the like are taught in the fourth lesson.


Prayer for intellectual vigour.

First, the śruti teaches the mantra to be recited by him who wishes to acquire retentive power:

यश्छन्दसामृषभो विश्वरूपः । छन्दोभ्योऽध्यमृतात् संबभूव । स मेन्द्रो मेधया स्पृणोतु । अमृतस्य देव धारणो भूयासम् ॥ १ ॥

yaśchandasāmṛṣabho viśvarūpaḥ | chandobhyo'dhyamṛtāt saṃbabhūva | sa mendro medhayā spṛṇotu | amṛtasya deva dhāraṇo bhūyāsam || 1 ||

I. Who, of all forms, the bull of chants, sprung up from chants immortal,— May He, the Lord, me with intelligence cheer. Of the immortal, O God, the possessor may I be!

Here are taught japa and homa—the recitation of mantras and the offering of oblations—as means of obtaining medhā and śrī, intelligence and fortune. (That such is the purpose of this lesson is) shewn by the expressions, “May He, the Lord, me with intelligence cheer and “then to me fortune bring,.”


Praṇava, the essence of the Vedas.

The syllable ‘Om’ is said to be the bull of Vedas because of the ascendency thereof as of the bull in a herd of cattle. It is ‘of all forms,’ because it pervades all speech, as declared elsewhere in the śruti:

“As all leaves are fast bound in the stalk, so is all speech fast bound in the syllable ‘Om.’ The syllable ‘Om’ is all this.”[1]

It is for this reason that it is spoken [of as the “bulk of chants.” The syllable ‘Om’ is indeed the object of contemplation here, and it is therefore but proper to extol it as the bull of chants and so on. The Vedas are verily immortal, and it is from such immortal Vedas that the syllable ‘Om’ was born: that is to say, as the most essential element of the Vedas did it, shine forth to Prajāpati, the Lord of creatures, when he began to meditate with the object of knowing what was the most essential element in all Vedic and vulgar speech. The  syllable ‘Om’ is eternal and cannot therefore be literally said to have a birth. May that syllable ‘Om,’ the Supreme Lord, the Dispenser of all aspirations, cheer me with wisdom! Or (to interpret the śruti better still): May He strengthen me with intelligence.—It is the strengthening of intelligence that is here prayed for.— Of the immortal, i.e., (by the context), of that knowledge of Brahman which is the means to immortality, the possessor may I be.

Praṇava is the highest among the Vedas—which are chanted in Gāyatrī and other metres,—as declared in the Kaṭha-Upaniṣad:

“That place which all the Vedas declare, for which they declare all penances, which seeking they live the life of celibacy, that place I tell thee briefly: it is ‘Om.’”[2]

The whole universe is only Its embodiment, inasmuch as all things are comprehended in speech composed of words, and the whole speech is comprehended in that syllable ‘ā,’ the first member of Praṇava. That all things are comprehended in speech is declared in the Aitareyaka as follows:

“Speech is his (the breath’s) rope, the names its knots. Thus by his speech as by a rope, and by his names as by knots, all this is bound. For, all these are names indeed.”[3]

Just as a dealer in cattle ties together many animals by bands attached to one long extended rope, so, in the hands of Parameśvara, the Supreme Lord, speech is the long rope, and names such as ‘Devadatta’ are bands, and by these all things in the universe are tied up. Everything therefore rests in speech. That is to say, every man, on hearing his own [name pronounced by another, comes up to him as though he were bound and dragged by bands of rope. That the whole of speech, with all the things in the universe comprehended within it, is itself comprehended in Praṇava is declared by the Chhandogas in the following words:

“As all leaves are fast bound in the stalk, so, is all speech fast bound in the syllable ‘Om.’ The syllable ‘Om’ is all this.”[4]

Just as the vaṭa, aśvattha and other fig leaves are pervaded by fibres running through them, so is the whole speech pervaded by the syllable ‘Om.’ We should bear in mind that it is through the syllable ‘a’ that the whole speech is comprehended in the Praṇava, as declared in the Aitareyaka:

“‘A’ is the whole of speech; and manifested through different kinds of contact (mutes) and of winds (sibilants), it becomes many and different.”[5]

Those sounds which are termed sparśas and those which are termed ūṣmans are uttered in the Mātṛkā-mantra with ‘a’ attached to them. The sound ‘a’ is therefore said to be embodied in the whole speech. Thus has been shewn how Praṇava is ‘of all forms,’ embodied in the whole universe. Praṇava manifested itself to Prajāpati as the highest or most essential element of the Vedas. Accordingly the Chhandogas read as follows:

“Prajāpati brooded on the world. From them thus brooded on threefold knowledge issued forth. He brooded on it, and from it thus brooded on issued the three utterances (vyāhṛtis), Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ. He brooded on them, and from them thus brooded on issued the syllable ‘Om’”[6]

To brood upon the worlds is to meditate deeply upon them with a view to find out their essence. To issue forth is to clearly shine forth as the essence. Immortality or freedom  from death constitutes what is known as liberation, and that is the end for which the syllable ‘Om’ manifested itself. Hence it is that the Chhandogas, in the opening section treating of the syllable ‘Om,’ read at the commencement, “He that is well established in Brahman attains immortality.” Praṇava being the designation of Brahman, he alone who devoutly contemplates Praṇava can be said to be well established in Brahman.

May He, the Supreme Lord, who is designated by Praṇava, cheer me, the seeker of wisdom, (by endowing me) with the power of retaining in memory the scriptural texts and their teaching. May I, O God, by Thy Grace grasp the immortal, i.e., the scriptural texts and their teachings whereby to attain immortality.


Prayer for physical and moral health.

Having given the mantra for acquiring retentiveness, the śruti now proceeds to teach a mantra for securing immunity from sickness:

शरीरं मे विचर्षणम् । जिह्वा मे मधुमत्तमा । कर्णाभ्यां भूरि विश्रुवम् । ब्रह्मणः कोशोऽसि मेधया पिहितः । श्रुतं मे गोपाय ॥ २ ॥

śarīraṃ me vicarṣaṇam | jihvā me madhumattamā | karṇābhyāṃ bhūri viśruvam | brahmaṇaḥ kośo'si medhayā pihitaḥ | śrutaṃ me gopāya || 2 ||

2. Able may my body be, sweetest be my tongue! With ears much may I hear! The sheath of Brahman art thou, veiled by intelligence. What I have learned do Thou keep.

Moreover, may my body be able! May my tongue be sweetest, uttering only what is most agreeable! With ears much may I hear! May my kārya-kāraṇa-sanghāta the aggregate of the causes and the effects, i.e., the gross physical body and the subtle senses making up my whole bodily organism—be competent for Ātma-jñāna, competent to acquire a knowdedge of the Self. And it is for the same end that I pray for medhā, intellectual retentiveness. Of Brahman, of the Paramātman or Highest Self, Thou art the sheath, as of a sword, being the seat of His manifestation.

I speak of Thee as the sheath of Brahman because those who have cast aside all worldly desires perceive the Suprem e in Thee, and because, as both the designation and the symbol of Brahman, Thou art alone the means of perceiving Him.—(S.)

Thou art indeed the Pratīka, the symbol of Brahman: in Thee Brahman is perceived. By worldly intelligence Thou art concealed: that is to say, the truth concerning Thee is unknown to men of common intelligence.

Concealed as Thou art[7] by their worldly intelligence, they whose thoughts are engrossed in the external objects do not contemplate Thee, the Divine Being, who givest immortality.—(S.)

Do Thou guard what I have heard, do thou guard my wisdom, the knowledge of the Self and the like which I have acquired by hearing the scriptural texts; that is to say, do Thou enable me to acquire wisdom and retain it.

Do Thou guard my wisdom from the attacks of attachment, aversion and other such evils: do Thou so watch that when I am engaged in the study of scriptures and in other means of acquiring knowledge, I may not meet with any obstacles to wisdom, such as worldly attachment and the like.—(S.)

These mantras are to be repeated by him who wishes to improve the retentive power of memory.

As I seek wisdom, may my body be healthy and thus efficient for a practice of contemplation! May my tongue be endued with extreme sweetness; may it be an apt organ wherewith to recite the scriptural texts! May I hear many a scriptural text conducive to the growth of wisdom: may I not be afflicted with the evil of deafness. O Praṇava, Thou art the place where I may meditate upon the Supreme Being, the Cause of the universe. Just as a leather-sheath is the place for preserving a sword, so is Praṇava the place for a safe meditation of Brahman. Accordingly, concerning the syllable ‘Om,’ the Kaṭha-Upaniṣad says:

“This is the best means, this the highest means.”[8]

Thus Praṇava is associated with the retentive power of intellect. Do Thou, O Supreme Lord, designated as Thou art by that grand Praṇava, protect my learning—all the secret truths of the Veda that I have learned with my ears— by way of removing the obstacles of forgetfulness and the like.


Prayer for fortune.

Here follow the mantras with which the seeker of fortune should offer oblations:

आवहन्ती वितन्वाना । कुर्वाणाऽचीरमात्मनः । वासांसि मम गावश्च । अन्नपाने च सर्वदा । ततो मे श्रियमावह । लोमशां पशुभिः सह स्वाहा ॥ ३ ॥

āvahantī vitanvānā | kurvāṇā'cīramātmanaḥ | vāsāṃsi mama gāvaśca | annapāne ca sarvadā | tato me śriyamāvaha | lomaśāṃ paśubhiḥ saha svāhā || 3 ||

3. Bringing to me and increasing ever and anon clothes and kine, food and drink, doing this long, do Thou then bring to me fortune woolly, along with cattle. Svāhā!

Then,[9] after endowing me with medhā or intelligence, do Thou endow me with fortune which in an instant—rather, ever—will bring to me and increase clothes and kine, food and drink. For to one who is devoid of wisdom fortune is indeed only a source of evil.

Works conducing to man’s good' in this or the future world can be accomplished only by means of wealth, human and divine,—i. e., material wealth such as money, and spiritual wealth such as contemplation of the Divine Being and wisdom. Hence the prayer for the two.—(S.)

Fortune is, said to be wholly because the fortune sought for includes goats and sheep as well as other kinds of cattle. From the context we are to understand that here the syllable ‘Om’ is addressed. The word[10] ‘svāhā’ shews that the mantra is intended for an oblation.

The word also marks the end of a mantra here as well as in the succeeding cases.—(S.)

Do Thou, Supreme Lord, designated by Praṇava, secure to me fortune from all sources, providing me with clothes, etc., for my enjoyment, increasing them when acquired, preserving them, when thus increased, long and safe for me who is the seeker of wisdom......To that God, who will endow me with fortune, may this thing—clarified butter or the like—be an oblation!


Prayer for obtaining disciples.

Now the śruti gives five, mantras wherewith the person who has been endowed with fortune abounding in clothes, food, drink, etc., offers oblations with a view to obtain disciples for the propagation of the traditional wisdom.

आ मा यन्तु ब्रह्मचारिणः स्वाहा ॥ ४ ॥
वि मा''यन्तु ब्रह्मचारिणः स्वाहा ॥ ५ ॥
प्र मा''यन्तु ब्रह्मचारिणः स्वाहा ॥ ६ ॥
दमायन्तु ब्रह्मचारिणः स्वाहा ॥ ७ ॥
शमायन्तु ब्रह्मचारिणः स्वाहा ॥ ८ ॥

ā mā yantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā || 4 ||
vi mā''yantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā || 5 || 
pra mā''yantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā || 6 ||
damāyantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā || 7 ||
śamāyantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā || 8 ||

4. May devotees of Brahman come to me from every side! Svāhā!

5. Variously may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svāhā!

6. Well-equipped may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svāhā!

7. Self-controlled may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svāhā!

8. Peaceful may devotees of Brahman come to me! Svāhā!

May disciples, intent on the acquisition of knowledge, come to me, a teacher of the traditional wisdom! Whatever be their respective ends,—be it cattle, or the region of svarga, or the region of Brahmā, or liberation,—to me may they come, endued with intellectual aptitude for wisdom, abstaining from all puerile, sportive outgoing activities of the sense-organs, free from anger and other evil tendencies of the mind!

The mantras from the 5 to 8 are not read in this context in some countries, in the belief that they belong to some other recension.[11]


Prayer for fame.

Here follow the mantras productive of fayne as a teacher of traditional, wisdom:

यशो जनेऽसानि स्वाहा ॥ ९ ॥
श्रेयान् वस्यसोऽसानि स्वाहा ॥ १० ॥

yaśo jane'sāni svāhā || 9 ||
śreyān vasyaso'sāni svāhā || 10 ||

9. Famous among people may I become! Svāhā!

10. Superior to the wealthiest may I become! Svāhā!

...Superior to the wealthiest among the same class of people as myself, may I become; that is to say, may  I be superior in virtues to the class of men who possess  wealth!

By Thy Grace, O Supreme Lord, may I be famous among all people as a teacher.........


Prayer for union with the Divine.

How the worshipper may become famous and superior is described in the following mantras:

तं त्वा भग प्रविशानि स्वाहा ॥ ११ ॥
स मा भग प्रविश स्वाहा ॥ १२ ॥
तस्मिन् त्सहस्रशाखे निभगाहं त्वयि मृजे स्वाहा ॥ १३ ॥

taṃ tvā bhaga praviśāni svāhā || 11 ||
sa mā bhaga praviśa svāhā || 12 ||
tasmin tsahasraśākhe nibhagāhaṃ tvayi mṛje svāhā || 13 ||

11. That Self of Thine, O God, may I enter! Svāhā!

12. Do Thou, O God, enter me. Svāhā!

13. In that Self of Thine, of a thousand branches, O God, do I wash myself. Svāhā!

May I enter into Thee, the sheath of Brahman. Having entered into Thee, may I not be other than Thyself! Do Thou also, O Lord, enter into me. Let us be one alone in Self.[12] In Thee alone (as in a river) of a thousand branches, I wash all acts of sin.

God (Bhagavat): ‘Bhaga’ is the name given to the six perfections collectively,—perfection in power, in virtue, in fame, in fortune, in wisdom, in non-attachment. May I, O Supreme Lord, enter into Thee, may I ever lovingly serve Thee as though I have become one with Thyself! Do Thou also enter into me, i.e., do Thou graciously hold me in great love as though Thou hast entered into me. In Thee, in Thy thousand forms, I wash myself. That is to say, devotion to Thee is the sole path to Bliss.


Prayer for many disciples.

The śruti then proceeds to give a mantra intended to secure many disciples, illustrating the thing by analogies.

यथाऽऽपः प्रवतायन्ति यथा मासा अहर्जरम् । एवं मां ब्रह्मचारिणः । धातरायन्तु सर्वतः स्वाहा ॥ १४ ॥

yathā''paḥ pravatāyanti yathā māsā aharjaram | evaṃ māṃ brahmacāriṇaḥ | dhātarāyantu sarvataḥ svāhā || 14 ||

14. As waters run to a low level, as months  into the year, so unto me may devotees of  Brahman, O Disposer of all, come from every  side! Svāhā!

The year (aharjara, consumer by days, or consumer of days) is so called because, revolving round and round in the form of days, it wastes away the w'orlds, or because days are consumed in the year in which they are comprehended.

As water flows quickly down an inclined level, ās months run into the year, not one of them transgressing it, so may the devotees of Brahman come unto me from all parts of tfiè country with extreme quickness, and may they never transgress me!


Prayer for light and peace.

प्रतिवेशोऽसि प्र मा भाहि प्र मा पद्यस्व ॥ १५ ॥

prativeśo'si pra mā bhāhi pra mā padyasva || 15 ||

15. Refuge[13] Thou art, to me do Thou shine forth; forth unto me must Thou come!

Thou art like a refuge, like a rest-house close by, wherein to shake off all weariness. Thoū art the abode wherein resting, thy devotees can shake off all sīn and pain. Do Thou, therefore, shine forth to me. Do Thbū come unto me: do thou make me one with Thyself, as the metallic head of an arrow 'becomes one with the body it pierces    into).

The seeker of fortune, as spoken of in this section,—i.e., in the chapter on wisdom,—must be one who seeks wealth wherewith to perform the sacrificial rite? which serve to destroy all accumulated sins of the past. It is only on the extinction of these sins that wisdom shines forth, as the smṛti says:

“Wisdom arises in men on the extinction of sinful karma. As in a clear mirror, they see the Self in the self.”

Do Thou make me illustrious as the teacher of Brahma vidyā. Do thou come to me, i.e, be gracious to me.


Footnotes and references:


Chhā-Up. 2-23-4.


Kaṭha-Up. 2-15.


Aitareya-Āraṇyaka 2-1-6-1.


Chhā. Up. 2-23-4.


Aita. Āraṇyaka 2-3-6-14.


Chhā. Up. 2-23-3, 4.


As a sālagrāma stone is concealed by the idea of God.—(A.)


Op. cit. 2—17.


On my acquiring a knowledge of the Vedic teaching.—(S.)


The word is explained to mean ‘May it be a fit oblation;’ or ‘the śruti has itself said.’


Nor does Śri Śaṅkarāchārya recognise them as forming apart of this Upaniṣad


i. e., do Thou destroy all cause of distinction.—(S.)


Or the haunt of all living creatures,— (S.)

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