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 X - The Illumination

(Tenth Anuvāka)

A Mantra to be repeated.

अहं वृक्षस्य रेरिवा । कीर्तिः पृष्ठं गिरेरिव । ऊर्ध्वपवित्रो वाजिनीव स्वमृतमस्मि । द्रविणं सवर्चसम् । सुमेध अमृतोक्षितः । इति त्रिशङ्कोर्वेदानुवचनम् ॥ १ ॥

ahaṃ vṛkṣasya rerivā | kīrtiḥ pṛṣṭhaṃ gireriva | ūrdhvapavitro vājinīva svamṛtamasmi | draviṇaṃ savarcasam | sumedha amṛtokṣitaḥ | iti triśaṅkorvedānuvacanam || 1 ||


1. The Mover of the Tree I am; my fame like the mountain’s peak. The High One making (me) pure, I am the very Immortal One as He is in the sun; I am the Lustrous Wealth. Of High wisdom (I am), immortal, undecaying. So runs Trisanku’s teaching of wisdom.


The purpose of the mantra.

The mantra that comes next is meant for recitation; and its recitation leads to wisdom, as the context gives us to understand. Indeed, the present section is devoted to wisdom, and we are not given to understand that it is meant for any other purpose. And it stands to reason that wisdom arises in him whose mind has been purified by svādhyāya or recitation of the sacred text.


The mantra is an expression of Self-realisation.

As the Antaryāmin, I am the Mover, the Impeller[1] of the perishable tree of samsāra or mundane existence. My fame is on high, like the mountain’s peak. The High One is the Primal Source, acting as the purifier. Shining forth through wisdom, the Supreme Brahman restores me to purity,—me who am the Sarvātman, the Self of all.

Brahman, the Primal Source, is the Supreme Purifier, because by shining forth through buddhi in consciousness, He frees me from samsāra or region of births.—(S). When thus purified, I become Brahman, the Pure One, the Primal Source.—(A)

I am the Immortal, the Pure Principle of Ātman (the Self), the self-same Pure Immotal Principle of Ātman who, in hundreds of passages in the śruti and the smṛti, is said to abide in the Sun, the source of all our nouṛṣment. Verily, I am the Lustrous Wealth, the self-luminous Principle of Ātman. Or, (to interpret the śruti in another way:)—I have obtained the Lustrous Wealth, the Brahma-jñana or knowledge of Brahman, the wealth which conduces to the happiness of mokṣa, that which illumines the Principle of Ātman. I am highly wise, as endued with wisdom, with omniscience. I am omniscient because I am endued with the power of sustaining, producing and destroying the samsāra, or mundane existence. As such I am immortal, endued with the attribute of immortality; and I am undecaying. Or, (to interpret the śruti in another way:)— I am soaked with amṛta, with the waters of immortality.

Thus the Ṛṣi, named Triśaṅku, who became Brahman and realised Brahman, said after attaining to a knowledge of Ātman’s oneness, with a view to proclaim, like the sage Vāmadeva, the fact that he had achieved all aspirations. This mantra which the iūishi had seen in his divine vision (ārsha darśana) is an expression of Ātmavidyā, showing what constitutes Self-realisation.

The recitation (japa) of the mantra given above conduces to purity and progress. He who seeks liberation should devoutly repeat the mantra, well-balanced in mind, with a view to attain Brahmajñāna, the realisation of Brahman.—(S)


Conditions of saintly vision.

From the fact of this sacred text, which sets forth wisdom, being read next in order to the section (ninth lesson) which treats of right-thinking and other acts of virtue (Dharma), we may conclude that divine visions (ārṣāṇi darśanāni), relating to the Self (Ā tman) and other things, occur to him who, free from desire (kāma) and aspiring to know Brahman, is devoutly engaged in the obligatory works enjoined in the śruti and the smṛti.

Not the recitation of the sacred text alone leads to Brahma-jṃma. On the other hand, all works conduce to the same end.—(A) The seeker of mokṣa, who devoutly performs the works enjoined in the śruti and the smṛti, attains saintly (ārsha) vision, an intuitive knowledge of truth to which leads to mokṣa.—(S) When the devotee performs the works enjoined in the śruti and the smṛti, in the service of the Lord (īśvara),—doing them devoutly for the sake of the Lord, not for the sake of their immediate fruits,—and when he has thereby been purified in buddhi and aspires for liberation alone, then he attains the intuitive knowledge which leads to liberation, that knowledge which arises in him untaught, revealing nothing but truth.—(A)


Repetition of this mantra serves as a substitute for Brahmayajña.

[2] In the Ninth Lesson it has been taught that the works enjoined in the Śruti and the Smṛti should be performed in addition to the contemplation of Brahman. It has also been incidentally taught that Brahmayajña is the best tapas(or austerity). But there may be persons who, though earnest, are yet not competent for Brahmayajña, as having not learned the Vedas owing to dullness of intellect or other causes. Now, in the Tenth Lesson the śruti gives a mantra, by repeating which even those persons can reap the fruits of Brahmayajña.


Saṃsāra cut asunder by non-attachment.

The tree here spoken of is the tree of samsāra, because (like a tree) samsṇra can be cut asunder by a knowledge of the Reality. This tree of saṃsāra is graphically described in the Taittirīya-Āraṇyaka in these words:

“Now, He that knoweth the tree whose root is on high, whose branches are down below....”

The Root, the Source of the tree of samsāra, is the Supreme Brahman, who rises high above all universe. Its branches are the bodies of Devas, men, and beasts, and they are down below. The Kaṭha-Upaniṣad reads:

“This old, old tree that sees no morrow’s dawn (stands) with its roots up and branches down.”[3]

The tree of samsāra is impermanent and does not stay the same to-morrow. It has no beginning. The Lord, too, has described it in the following words:

“They speak of an eternal Aśvattha rooted above and branching below, whose leaves are the Vedas; he who knows it is a Veda-knower.”[4]

May I, the seeker of liberation, be able to cut asunder the tree of samsāra by the sword of indifference (vairāgya) to sense-objects! That it is cut asunder by indifference has been taught by the Lord in the following verse:

“Having cut asunder this firm-rooted-Aśvattha by the strong sword of non-attachment, then that Goal should be sought, whither having gone none return again.”[5] 


No obstacle lies on the path of the unattached Soul.

The tree of samsāra being cut asunder, my fame becomes like unto a mountain’s peak; it rises high as the mountain’s peak is high. The fame concerning my liberation rises very high and spreads in the regions of Devas: so that even Devas cannot thwart my wishes. Accordingly the śruti says:

“Indeed, not even Devas have power to prevent his becoming (Brahman).”[6]


Purity of the unattached Soul.

My purity transcends all. I am as pure as the Immortal abiding in the fast-coursing Sun. The Sun indeed courses always with extreme swiftness. So He is addressed:

“I bow to Thee, who in one-half eye-wink traversest two thousand and two hundred and and two yojanas.”[7]

In the sun there abides the Shining One, the Immortal Being. Accordingly, in the Madhuvidyā[8], the Chhandogas declare that the solar sphere is sweet honey, and that in its several compartments—eastern, western, etc.—there are stored up immortal essences of red, white, and other colours, constituting the fruits of works enjoined in the Āig-Veda and other scriptures. And it has also been declared that the Vasus and other gods live upon these immortal essences.


Purity leads to wisdom and immortality.

Extremely pure as I am, may I come by the lustrous wealth! Wealth is of two kinds, human and divine. Human wealth consists of gold, silver etc., which are perceived by the eye. That which is heard by the ear, i. e., the Brahma-jñāna and the like which are known only through the Veda, constitutes divine wealth. Accordingly, when treating of a certain course of contemplation, the Vājasaneyins enjoin the contemplation of the eye and the ear regarded respectively as symbols of human and divine wealth. “The eye is human wealth; by the eye indeed does one perceive it. The ear is divine wealth; by the ear indeed does one hear it.” The epithet ‘lustrous’ shews that the divine wealth is here prayed for. Here lustre is vigour; and Brahma-jñāna, the divine wealth, is vigorous because of its power Āo remove all samsāra.

Endowed with these riches, with this divine wealth of Brahma-jñāna, may I be possessed of vigorous intelligence, of the intellectual power of clearly grasping the teachings of the scriptures which expound Brahma-jñāna; and may I then be soaked with the ambrosia of Brahmic bliss!

According to the sage Triśaṅku, the recitation of this mantra constitutes the austerity of Vedic recitation known as Brahmayajña, which one should practise after learning the Veda from a teacher.


Footnotes and references:


The Generator.—(S.)


Sāyaṇa’s interpretation of this lesson differs a little from Śaṅkarāchārya’s,


Op. cit. 6-1.


Bhag. Gītā. XV. 1.


Ibid, XV. 3, 4.


Bṛ. Up. 1—3—10.


Yojana = about 8 or 9 miles.


Chhā. III. et. seq.

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