Thirty minor Upanishads

by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1914 | 95,228 words

This book contains the English translation of thirty minor Upanishads.—Fourteen belonging to Vedanta, two are categorised as Physiological, three are Mantra, two are Sannyasa and the remaining nine are categorised as Yoga-Upanishads. These Upanishads are properly defined as the Aranya-portion of the Vedas (most ancient Hindu scriptures) and are so-...

Nada Bindu Upanishad of Rigveda

The syllable A is considered to be its (the bird Om's) right wing, U, its left: M[1] , its tail; and the ardhamātrā (half-metre) is said to be its head.

The (rājasic and tāmasic) qualities, its feet upwards (to the loins); sattva, its (main) body;[2] dharma is considered to be its right eye, and adharma, its left.

The Bhūrloka is situated in its feet; the Bhuvarloka, in its knees; the Suvarloka, in its loins; and the Maharloka, in its navel.

In its heart is situate the Janoloka; the tapoloka in its throat, and the Satyaloka in the centre of the forehead between the eyebrows.

Then the mātrā (or mantra) beyond the Sahasrāra (thousand-rayed) is explained (viz.,) should be explained.

An adept in yoga who bestrides the Haṃsa (bird) thus (viz., contemplates on Om) is not affected by karmic influences or by tens of crores of sins.[3] The first mātrā has agni as its devatā (presiding deity); the second, vayu as its devatā; the next mātrā is resplendent like the sphere of the sun and the last, the Ardhamātrā the wise know as belonging to Varuṇa (the presiding deity of water) .

Each of these mātrās has indeed three kalās (parts). This is called Omkāra. Know it by means of the dhāraṇās, viz., concentration on each of the twelve kalās, or the variations of the mātrās produced by the difference of svaras or intonation). The first mātrā is called ghoṣiṇī; the second, vidyunmāli (or vidyunmātrā); the third, pataṅginī; the fourth, vāyuveginī; the fifth, nāmadheya; the sixth, aindrī; the seventh, vaiṣṇavī; the eighth, śāṅkarī; the ninth, mahatī; the tenth, dhṛti (dhruva, Calcutta ed.); the eleventh, nārī (mauni, Calcutta ed.); and the twelfth, brāhmī.[4]

If a person happens to die in the first mātrā (while contemplating on it), he is born again as. a great emperor in Bhāratavarṣa.

If in the second mātrā, he becomes an illustrious yakṣa; if in the third mātrā, a vidyādhara; if in the fourth, a gandharva (these three being the celestial hosts).

If he happens to die in the fifth, viz., ardhamātrā, he lives in the world of the moon, with the rank of a deva greatly glorified there.

If in the sixth, he merges into Indra; if in the seventh, he reaches the seat of Viṣṇu; if in the eighth, Rudra, the Lord of all creatures.

If in the ninth, in Maharloka; if in the tenth, in Janoloka (Dhruvaloka, Calcutta ed.); if in the eleventh, Tapoloka, and if in the twelfth, he attains the eternal[5] state of Brahma.

That which is beyond these, (viz.,) Parabrahman which is beyond (the above mātrās), the pure, the all-pervading, beyond kalās, the ever resplendent and the source of all jyotis (light) should be known.

[6]When the mind goes beyond the organs and the guṇās and is absorbed, having no separate existence and no mental action, then (the guru) should instruct him (as to his further course of development).

That person always engaged in its contemplation and always absorbed in it should gradually leave off his body (or family) following the course of yoga and avoiding all intercourse with society.

Then he, being freed from the bonds of karma and the existence as a jīva and being pure, enjoys the supreme bliss by his attaining of the state of Brahmā.[7]

O intelligent man, spend your life always in the knowing of the supreme bliss, enjoying the whole of your prārabdha (that portion of past karma now being enjoyed) without making ally complaint (of it).

Even after ātmajñāna (knowledge of Mind or Self) has awakened (in one), prārabdha does not leave (him); but he does not feel prārabdha after the dawning of tattvajñāna[8] (knowledge of tattva or truth) because the body and other things are asat (unreal), like the things seen in a dream to one on awaking from it.

That (portion of the) karma which is done in former births, and called prārabdha does not at all affect the person (tattvajñānī), as there is no rebirth 'to him.

As the body that exists in the dreaming state is untrue, so is this body. Where then is rebirth to a thing that is illusory? How can a thing have any existence, when there is no birth (to it)?

As the clay is the material cause of the pot, so one learns from Vedānta that ajñāna is the material cause of the universe: and when ajñāna ceases to exist, where then is the cosmos?

As a person through illusion mistakes a rope for a serpent, so the fool not knowing Satya (the eternal truth) sees the world (to be true.)

When he knows it to be a piece of rope, the illusory idea of a serpent vanishes.

So when he knows the eternal substratum of everything and all the universe becomes (therefore) void (to him), where then is prārabdha to him, the body being a part of the world? Therefore the word prārabdha is accepted to enlighten the ignorant (only).

Then as prārabdha has, in course of time, worn out, he who is the sound resulting from the union of Praṇava with Brahman who is the absolute effulgence itself, and who is the bestower of all good, shines himself like the sun at the dispersion of the clouds.

The yogin being in the siddhāsana (posture) and practising the vaiṣṇavīmudrā, should always hear the internal sound through the right ear.

The sound which he thus practises makes him deaf to all external sounds. Having overcome all obstacles, he enters the turya state within fifteen days.

In the beginning of his practice, he hears many loud sounds. They gradually increase in pitch and are heard more and more subtly.

At first, the sounds are like those proceeding from- the ocean, clouds, kettle-drum, and cataracts: in the middle (stage) those proceeding from mardala (a musical instrument), bell, and horn.

At the last stage, those proceeding from tinkling bells, flute, vīṇā (a musical instrument), and bees. Thus he hears many such sounds more and more subtle.

When he comes to that stage when the sound of the great kettle-drum is being heard, he should try to distinguish only sounds more and more subtle.

He may change his concentration from the gross sound to the subtle, or from the subtle to the gross, but he should not allow his mind to be diverted from them towards others.

The mind having at first concentrated itself on any one sound fixes firmly to that and is absorbed in it.

It (the mind) becoming insensible to the external impressions, i becomes one with the sound as milk with water, and then becomes rapidly absorbed in cidākāś (the akāś where Chit prevails).

Being indifferent towards all objects, the yogin having controlled his passions, should by continual practice concentrate his attention upon the sound which destroys the mind.

Having abandoned all thoughts and being freed from all actions, he should always concentrate his attention on the sound, and (then) his citta becomes absorbed in it.

Just as the bee drinking the honey (alone) does not care for the odour, so the citta which is always absorbed in sound, does not long for sensual objects, as it is bound by the sweet smell of nāda and has abandoned its flitting nature.

The serpent citta through listening to the nāda is entirely absorbed in it, and becoming unconscious of everything concentrates itself on the sound.

The sound serves the purpose of a sharp goad to control the maddened elephant—citta which roves in the pleasure-garden of the sensual objects.

It serves the purpose of a snare for binding the deer—citta. It also serves the purpose of a shore to the ocean waves of citta.

The sound proceeding from Praṇava which is Brahman is of the nature of effulgence; the mind becomes absorbed in it; that is the supreme seat of Viṣṇu.

The sound exists till there is the ākāśic conception (ākāśasaṅkalpa). Beyond this, is the (aśabda) soundless Parabrahman which is Paramātmā.

The mind exists so long as there is sound, but with its (sound's) cessation, there is the state called unmanī of manas (viz., the state of being above the mind).

This sound is absorbed in the Akṣara (indestructible) and the soundless state is the supreme seat.

The mind which along with Prāṇa (Vāyu) has (its) karmic affinities destroyed by the constant concentration upon nāda is absorbed in the unstained One. There is no doubt of it.

Many myriads of nādas and many more of bindus—(all) become absorbed in the Brahma-Praṇava sound.

Being freed from all states and all thoughts whatever, the yogin remains like one dead. He is a mukta. There is no doubt about this.

After that, he does not at any time hear the sounds of conch or dundubhi (large kettle-drum).

The body in the state of unmanī is certainly like a log and does not feel heat or cold, joy or sorrow.

The yogin's citta having given up fame or disgrace is in samādhi above the three states.

Being freed from the waking and the sleeping states, he attains to his true state.

When the (spiritual) sight becomes fixed without any object to be seen, when the vāyu (prāṇa) becomes still without any effort, and when the citta becomes firm without any support, he becomes of the form of the internal sound of Brahma-Praṇava.

Such is the Upaniṣad.

Footnotes and references:


The commentator says that M is the last letter and hence tail and ardhamātrā is the head, as it enables one to attain to higher worlds.


Another reading is: The qualities are its feet, etc., and Tattva is its body.


Comm.: Since this mantra has already occurred in the preceding khaṇda of the same sākhā, it is simply referred in the text. The mantra is:

(?) “sahasrāṇyaṃviyatāṃ vasyapakṣorharaihasyapatataḥ svargaṃsadevānusyapadadhyasākṣī saṃpaśayan bhavanāniviścā” (?)

The meaning seems to be—the letters A and U are the two wings of the Hamm (Om) of the form of Vishṇu which goes to svarga, the abode of Sūrya, the thousand-rayed God; that syllable, 'Om' bearing in its heart all the devas (of sattvaguṇa). He goes up to Sahasrānha seeing the worlds personally: Sahasrānha being the seat of the spiritual sun.


Comm.: The four mātrās are subdivided into twelve by their having each three svaras, Udātta, Anudātta, and Svarīta. Here the author goes on to give the names of the twelve kalās and shows the method of practising Dhāraṇā on each. Ghoshiṇī is that which gives Prajña: Vidyunmālī is that which secures entrance into the loka of Vidyunmālī, the king of the yakshas: Pataṅginī is that which confers the power of movement through air like the bird Patanginī; Vāyuvegiṅī is that which gives the power of moving very rapidly: Nāmadheya means that which confers existence in Pitṛloka: Aindrī in Indraloka: Vaishṇavī and Sāṅkarī in Vishṇu and Siva-lokas respectively: Maunī to the loka of Munis or Janoloka and Brāhmī to Brahmaloka.


Eternal here means the lifetime of Brahmā.


Another edition says: he should enter through yoga the incomparable and quiescent Śiva.


Here the Calcutta edition stops.


Tattvajñāna is the discrimination of the tattvas of this universe and man. Ātmajñāna—the discrimination of Ātmā or the Self in man.

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