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 ...

Chapter IV - Final Attainment

The Ātman is ever beyond Saṃsāra.

Having thus, from the stand-point of illusory knowledge, taught the several contemplations, such as those which fall within the scope of the average aspirants, the commentator (Śaṅkarāchārya) now proceeds to expound the underlying truth, apart from all illusion.—(A).

In the section beginning with the words “Life, verily, is food, the body the food-eater,” the śruti has taught us that it is the evolved universe, including the ākāśa, which appears as food and food-eater.

(Question):—True, it has been taught. What of that?

(Answer):—From this it follows that the saṃsāra which is due (to the things in the universe) being mutually related as enjoyers and objects of enjoyment, pertains to the evolved universe, but not to the Ātman. It is only ascribed to Ātman through illusion.

This relation of food and food-eater belongs to the world of effects and therefore pertains to the aggregate of the principles comprising human upādhi. The śruti has taught this at length, with a view to show that that relation pertains only to the world of effects and that it should not be extended to Brahman who is beyond thought and words.—(S).

(The opponent):—The Ātman, too, is a thing evolved from the Paramātman, and it is therefore but right to say that saṃsāra pertains to the Self.

(Answer) No; for, the śruti speaks of the entrance of that one who is not a saṃsārin. “This having emanated, into that very thing He entered”: in these words the śruti declares the entrance in the universe, of the Paramātman Himself who has created ākāśa and other things and who is not a saṃsārin. Therefore the living self, the jīvātman, who has entered the universe, is none other than the Supreme, who is not a saṃsārin. And the identity of the agent in the acts of creating and entering leads to the same view. When the creation and the entrance are looked upon as the acts of one and the same agent, then alone does the participle, “having created,” become explicable.

(The opponent):—On entering, the Supreme undergoes change of nature.

(Answer):—No; for, we have refuted[1] this interpretation by shewing that entrance has quite a different meaning.

(The opponent):—As the śruti says specifically that the One has entered the universe “in this form of the jīva,”[2] the Supreme must have entered the universe with a different nature (as saṃsārin).

(Answer):—No, because the śruti again speaks of the jīva as identical with the One, in the words “That, Thou art.”

(The opponent):—There the śruti merely presents an exalted picture for contemplation, whereby the jīva who has come to be a distinct being (as saṃsārin) may rid himself of that distinct feature (saṃsāra).

(Answer):—No, because of the identity taught by the śruti in the words “That is real, That the Self, and That Thou art.”

That is to say, the opponent’s view is incompatible with the identity which the śruti, when literally interpreted, conveys, and which we find no reason to set aside.—(A).

(The opponent):—Why, our experience does shew that the jīva is a saṃsārin.

(Answer):—It cannot be; for the perceiver cannot be an object of perception.

(The opponent):—Why, the Self with his attribute of saṃsāra is perceived.

(Answer):—No; for, since an attribute is not distinct from its substratum, the Self would then be an object of perception as well as the perceiver; i. e., the Self would be both the agent and the object of the act of perceiving; which is impossible, just as it is impossible for heat to become heated and for light to become illumined.

(The opponent):—As the Self is found to be subject to fear, &c., we infer that the Self is subject to pain, &c.

(Answer):—For the very reason that fear and pain are perceived, they are not the attributes of the perceiver.

(The opponent):—This is opposed to the reasoning adopted by the followers of Kapila and Kaṇāda.

(Answer):—That does not vitiate our theory; for, as their systems lack proper foundation and contradict the Veda, we must look upon them as based on illusion.

Thus Ātman’s freedom from saṃsāra has been established both through śruti and reasoning.

Therefore the common view that the Self is the enjoyer of external objects should be relegated to the region of avidyā; such a relation cannot apply to the Ātman who is one with the Real Infinite Brahman. That the duality comprising the enjoyer and the objects of enjoyment arises from avidyā is taught by the śruti in the words “when there is, as it were, duality, then one sees the other, one hears the other, .........”.[3] And again in the words “But when the Self only is all this, how could he smell another, how could he see another.........” the śruti teaches that the Self who is free from avidyā and all such things is always free from duality ascribed to him by avidyā—(S).


Unity of the Self and Brahman.

And (the jiva is not a saṃsārin) because he is one (with Īśvara).

How is the jiva one (with īśvara)?

The śruti says:

स यश्चायं पुरुषे । यश्चासावादित्ये । स एकः ॥ ८ ॥

sa yaścāyaṃ puruṣe | yaścāsāvāditye | sa ekaḥ || 8 ||

8. And this one who is in the man, and that one who is in the Sun, He is one.

This passage has been explained already (vide ante pp. 622 — 628).


The enlightened one attains unity with the All.

स य एवंवित् । अस्माल्लोकात्प्रेत्य । एतमन्नमयमात्मानमुपसङ्क्रम्य । एतं प्राणमयमात्मानमुपसङ्क्रम्य । एतं मनोमयमात्मानमुपसङ्क्रम्य । एतं विज्ञानमयमात्मानमुपसङ्क्रम्य । एतमानन्दमयमात्मानमुपसङ्क्रम्य । इमान् लोकन्कामान्नी कामरूप्यनुसञ्चरन् । एतत् साम गायन्नास्ते ॥ ९ ॥

sa ya evaṃvit | asmāllokātpretya | etamannamayamātmānamupasaṅkramya | etaṃ prāṇamayamātmānamupasaṅkramya | etaṃ manomayamātmānamupasaṅkramya | etaṃ vijñānamayamātmānamupasaṅkramya | etamānandamayamātmānamupasaṅkramya | imān lokaṅkāmānnī kāmarūpyanusañcaran | etat sāma gāyannāste ॥ ९ ॥

9. He who thus knows, departing from this world and attaining this Annamaya self, then attaining this Prāṇamaya self, then attaining this Manomaya self, then attaining this Vijñanamaya self, then attaining this Ānandamaya self, traversing these worlds, having the food he likes, taking the form he likes, this song singing he sits.

The meaning of the verse beginning with the words “Real, Consciousness, Infinite is Brahman,” has been explained at length by the whole Ānandavallī which forms a sort of commentary on the verse. But that part of it which speaks of the fruit of the knowledge of Brahman in the words “attains all desires together, as Brahman, as the wise,” has not been explained at length. In the sequel, the śruti proceeds to show what all those desires are, what objects they refer to, and how he attains them all together as Brahman. Now, in the legend of the father and his son, which forms a supplement to the Vidyā taught in the previous section, it has been taught that Devotion (tapas) is the means to Brahma-vidyā. The śruti then treated of the mutual relation, as food and food-eater, of all created things from prāṇa up to ākāśa, and treated of the modes of contemplating Brahman. The śruti has then treated of desires relating to the different objects in the creation (such as ākāśa) and of the appropriate means by which they can be realised. But, if Ātman be one alone, there cannot be objects of desire as well as one who desires them, inasmuch as the whole variety is resolved into the One Self. Such being the case, how, it may be asked, can we understand that the knower of Brahman attains all desires together as Brahman?

We answer: because the knower of Brahman becomes the all.

The knower of Brahman enjoys all objects of pleasure at once because he has become one with Brahman; and none but Brahman can enjoy all objects of desire at once. Nothing in the universe exists by itself and all things exist in the Supreme Brahman who is the Real, Consciousness, the Infinite, and Bliss.—(S).

Or the Upaniṣad comprised in this chapter is intended to teach that Brahma-Vidyā devours all things in the universe which are mutually related as food and food-eater, and that therefore truth points to non-duality—(S).

How has he (the knower of Brahman) become the all?

The śruti answers thus: By knowledge of the unity of the Ātman in man and in the sun, he eliminates all inferiority and superiority from the Ātman, and gradually passing beyond the selves generated by avidyā, such as those ranging from the Annamaya to the Ānandamaya, he becomes one with the Real, Conscious, Infinite Brahman, the Invisible, the inherent Bliss, the Unborn, the Immortal, the Fearless, the Non-dual,—the Goal. Having the food he likes and assuming the forms he likes, he traverses these worlds,—the earth and other worlds: i. e., as one with the all, he sees all these worlds as the Self, and sits singing Sāman. Sāman is Brahman who is ‘sama’ or one with all. To sing Sāman is to proclaim, for the benefit of the people, the unity of the Self as well as the perfection in life resulting from the knowledge.

The knower of Brahman realises, by his knowledge, the unreality of the whole not-self set up by avidyā, and sees himself to be the Self, the Brahman who is the Real, the Invisible, etc. Having thus become one with Brahman, and devoid of inferior and superior forms, he traverses through these worlds, i.e., he continues to perceive the upādhis created by acts, though he knows them to be unreal.—No traversing through them in its literal sense is possible in the case of Brahman who is immutable; the śruti says “He thinks as it were, he moves as it were.”[4] The wise one, being himself the all, sees all these worlds as the Self; and feeling that he has achieved all, he sings the song that follows:—(S).


The enlightened one becomes a Jīvan-mukta.

Here (in the passages 8 and 9) the śruti teaches what the aspirant—on attaining one-pointedness of mind either in this birth or in the next as the result of the contemplations described in the last chapter—will know and what he will attain as the result of that knowledge. Though this has been taught in the Ānandavallī, still it is repeated here with a view to shew that devotion (tapas)—concentration or one-pointedness of mind which can be attained through various kinds of upāsana (contemplation)—finally leads to the Supreme end of man. Since the aspirant has realised that the one partless Bliss, described in connection with the Ānanda-mayakośa as “Brahman the tail, the support,” is his own Self, and since he has rid himself of the illusion that identifies with the Self delight and other members of Ānan-damyakośa as well as the sheaths lying outside the Ānandamaya sheath through which the Self becomes bound, he is liberated in fact. But, people speak of him as living inasmuch as they still see his body and sense-organs as before. Thus in the view of the world he still lives, while in his own view he is liberated, and he is therefore called a Jīvan-mukta,

liberated while still alive. Having realised identity with Ātman as shewn above, he lives like other people here till death.—How does he live?—Eating what food he likes, putting on what form he likes, he traverses these worlds. As he has risen above the laws which enjoin certain kinds of food and forbid certain kinds of food, he eats in any man’s house he likes. So the śruti says: “Begging food, from all castes, the stomach his dish”;[5] and the sages also say, “As to those who tread the path beyond the three guṇas, what can be enjoined or what can be forbidden?” He also puts on any dress he likes; the śruti speaks of them as those whose dress is undetermined, whose conduct is undetermined.”[5] Eating as he likes and dressing himself as he likes, he wanders through Kāśi, Dvāravatī, and other places, one after another, never settling in a house in one place; the śruti speaks of such a man as “not dwelling in a house, and making no effort.”[6] Or we may explain thus: Convinced that he is one with all, that “all sentient beings, from Brahman down to unmoving objects, are my body,”[7] he finds satisfaction in the thought that, whatever persons move about and in whatever worlds, all such movements are his own. What more does he do? He sits singing the sāman that follows here, a mantra in the form of a song. It is a mantra which teaches oneness (samatva). The śruti says: “One with all, hence Sāman”;[8] and also “Same always; hence sāman.”[9] Singing the mantra in the manner prescribed in the Sāmaveda, he thereby proclaims to his disciples that he has become one with all.


The Jīvanmukta’s song of unity with all.

हा३वु हा३वु हा३वु । अहमन्नमहमन्नमहमन्नम् । अहमन्नादोऽ ३ हमन्नादोऽ ३ हमन्नादः । अहं श्लोककृदहं श्लोककृदहं श्लोककृत् । अहमस्मि प्रथमजा ऋता ३ स्य । पूर्वं देवेभ्योऽमृतस्य नाआआभायि । यो मा ददाति स इदेव मा ३ वाः । अहमन्नमन्नमदन्तमा ३ द्मि । अहं विश्वं भुवनमभ्यभवा ३ म् । सुवर्न ज्योतीः ॥ १० ॥

hāāāvu hāāāvu hāāāvu । ahamannamahamannamahamannam । ahamannādo'''hamannādo'''hamannādaḥ ।  ahaṃ ślokakṛdahaṃ ślokakṛdahaṃ ślokakṛt । ahamasmi prathamajā ṛtāāāsya । pūrvaṃ devebhyo'mṛtasya nāāābhāyi । yo mā dadāti sa ideva māāāvāḥ । ahamannamannamadantamāāādmi । ahaṃ viśvaṃ bhuvanamabhyabhavāāām । suvarna jyotīḥ || 10 ||

10. Oh! Oh! Oh! I am food, I food, I food! I food-eater, I food-eater, I food-eater! I am the combining agent, I the combining agent, I the combining agent. I am the First-born of the existence! Prior to gods, the centre of the immortal. Whoso giveth me, he surely doth thus save. I, the food, eat him who eats food. I the whole being destroy. Light, like the sun!

Oh!: This expresses extreme wonder.—Where is the occasion for this wonder?—Though I am the non-dual taintless Ātman, I am myself food and food-eater. The threefold repetition is intended to denote the wonderfulness of the thing.

All this is divided twofold, food and food-eater. The enlightened one says “I who am the Ātman, the Real and the Infinite, am myself this twofold world.—(S).

The wonder is this, that by the mere knowledge obtained through the grace of the Guru and the scriptures, I who was one with the body have become Brahman who is the all. In the words “I am food” etc., the enlightened one prôclaims his experience of oneness. Whatever food is prepared,—rice, wheat, barley,—all that is myself; for while the name and form of the food are false appearances, the basic Reality underlying them which is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss, is none other than myself. So too in the case of “food-eater” and “combiner.” Food-eater: brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, cattle, horses, etc.

I am myself also the combining agent, the Intelligence that brings about the combination of food and the food-eater.—Or, (to interpret it better), I am the Intelligence who brings about the combination of various objects, which, having no purpose of their own, are intended solely for the purpose of another being, so that it might serve as the food of that other being, the food-eater.

I myself, the Ātman, of the nature described above, am the connection between food and food-eater, the connection as perceiver and objects of perception. There exists nothing else except myself.—(S).

The enlightened one sees in himself the Self who is devoid of action and of the several factors concerned in action.— (S).

The threefold repetition of “I am food” etc., implies extreme regard for the knowledge, which is thus expressed with a view to create confidence in the minds of those people who betray want of faith.—(S).

I am myself the one who brings various elements together, as for instance, a king who collects an army, and the like.—Or (to interpret it in another way), I am the maker of verses, i. e., the poet.

The threefold repetition in these cases shews that all food, all enjoyers, and all poets are here referred to. To be all these, one must necessarily be one with all. The threefold repetition is also meant to inspire confidence, as in the case of swearing. Such threefold repetition is often resorted to both in the Veda and in common parlance. People say “I swear thrice before you.” The Veda says: “Thrice real are Devas.”[10]

I am the First-born of the existence, i. e., of this universe comprising the corporeal and the incorporeal objects. Prior to all gods, I am the centre of immortality; that is to say, the immortality of all sentient beings is rooted in me.

I existed even prior to the whole universe made up of forms and formless objects, of food and the food-eater; that is to say, I am devoid of this universe; I am of quite a distinct nature. The śruti says, “That eats nothing whatever.”[11] Even prior to Devas I was; i. e., I existed ever before the manifestation of jīvas or separated intelligences; I was pure, without separation of any sort. I am the centre of the immortality of the Devas, because I, the Self, the Pratyagātman, am the cause, the basis, of their immortality; or because the liberation of the individual intelligences consists in their realisation of identity with me, with Brahman.—(S).

I am Brahman’s FirsUborn, the Hiraṇyagarbha, the first evolved entity, because, Ātman is the Reality underlying the phenomenon called the Hiraṇyagarbha. I existed even prior to Indra and other gods, these latter having been created by Ātman, as the śruti says:

“It created still further the most excellent kṣatra (power), namely those kṣatras among Devas—Indra, Varuṇa, Soma, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, Mṛtyu, īsāna.”[12]

I am the prop of mokṣa, like the knave of a wheel, which is the support of the wheel and its spokes, inasmuch as in the words “the knower of the Self crosses beyond sorrow”[13] the śruti teaches that knowledge of the Self leads to mokṣa.

Whoso giveth &c.: Whoever gives food to the seekers of food, i. e., whoever teaches that I myself am in the form of food, he preserves it as it is, without losing; but if one does not give food in proper time to those who seek it and eats it himself, such a person who so eats,—him I myself, who am food, will eat up at once as one eats food.

The teacher who teaches me, the Paramātman, to his disciples, he alone saves his disciples by imparting to them the knowledge of the Paramātman.—Or, if a person generously gives me to Brāhmaṇas, etc., for eating, such a person alone saves the Brāhmanas. The Yājñikī-Upa-niṣad, after speaking of the evolution of things, such as food, in order, says: “Therefore he who gives food gives all these.”[14] That is to say, the Paramātman who is to be taught, and the food which one gives to another, are both myself. I, in the form of the Devatā presiding over food, eat up the greedy miser who eats all food by himself without giving it to others; that is to say, I ruin him by hurling him into hells such as the Mahāraurava. The śruti says: “A perfect sinner is he who eats alone.”[15] The smṛti also says “Sin do those sinners eat who cook food for their own sakes.”[16]

(The opponent):—If so, then I am afraid of mokṣa, of this oneness with all. Let me have samśāra only, since, even when I am liberated from saṃsāra, I, becoming food, shall be eaten up by food.

(Answer):—Do not be so afraid; for, the enjoyment of all desires has been spoken of from the standpoint of ordinary experience. The enlightened one, having become one with Brahman by knowledge, rises beyond the world of our ordinary experience comprising things related as food and food-eater set up by avidyā. To him there exists besides himself nothing else, of which he may be afraid. Therefore one need not be afraid of mokṣa.

(The opponent):—If so, why does the śruti say, “I am food,” “I am food-eater,” etc.?

(Answer):—The food and the food-eater we commonly speak of are mere phenomena and exist only in name; they do not exist in reality. Though they are such, still, with a view to teach that the phenomenal world emanates from Brahman and has no existence outside Brahman, and with a view to extol the unity of the Self with Brahman attained as the result of Brahmavidyā, it is said “I am food, I am food-eater,” etc. To him who has become Brahman by the destruction of avidyā, there is no trace of fear and other evils which are all caused by avidyā.

I the whole being destroy: As the Parameśvara, I destroy the whole being, this whole universe which is the resort of all creatures from Brahma downwards, and in which all creatures take their birth.

On becoming Brahman, the Real Infinite Consciousness, I dispel the whole being set up by avidyā, as the Sun dispels the night’s darkness, and remain all alone.—(S).

It was I who, as Īśvara, destroyed the whole universe at the time of Praḷaya or Dissolution.

Light like the sun: like the sun my light is ever luminous.

Just as the sun is self-luminous and shines without the aid of other lights, so I am the self-luminous consciousness, shining without the aid of the eye or any other medium.


Knowledge ensures Bliss.

य एवं वेद । इत्युपनिषत् ॥ ११ ॥
                     ॥ इति दशमोऽनुवाकः ॥

ya evaṃ veda | ityupaniṣat || 11 ||
                     || iti daśamo'nuvākaḥ ||

2. Whoso thus knows, Such is the Upaniṣad.

To him who, controlling the senses and the mind, abstaining from all outward concerns, endued with perfect endurance and with perfect balance of mind— who, by mighty devotion, like Bhṛgu, attains the knowledge of the Paramātman as imparted in these two vallīs,—to him accrues all the fruit described above. Amen!

The fruit mentioned above accrues to that person who realises, through Annamaya and other seifs, the Ātman, the One Partless Bliss, spoken of as “Brahman, the tail.” Though it has been already said that the enlightened one attains this fruit, still it is repeated here with a view to shew that the enlightened one alone attains the fruit and that the enlightened one does necessarily attain the fruit.




Taittiriya 1

Footnotes and references:


Vide ante pp. 525-532.


Chhā. Up. 6-3-2.


Bṛ. Up. 2-4-14.


Bṛ. Up. 4-3-7.


Jābāla. Up. 6.






Chhā. Up. 2-9-1.




Tai. Sam. 6-3-10.


Bṛ. Up.. 3-8-8.


Bṛ. Up. 1-4-11.


Chhā. Up. 7-1-3.


Op. cit. 50.


Tai. Brā. 2-8-8.


Bhag. Gitā. 3-13.

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