Brahmopanishad I

{To Read Author’s General Note click here }

There are two recensions of this Upanishad with minor variation. Swami Madhavaananda had dealt with both in a combined form. We shall follow him.

Part of the Upanishad is in prose and the rest in short shlokas. I am breaking the prose into individual numbered sentences or clusters for clarity.


  1. OM! Shaunaka the renowned householder asked the Rishi Pippalaada of the Angiras line, “How do they get installed in and create in this body known as divine Brahmapura? What is the source of their glory (power)? Who is behind this power?

    (How did evolution to human being take place? Brahmapura as human body is said to be in the tradition of the Upanishads, started by Atharva Veda.)

  2. He (Pippalaada) taught the Supreme Knowledge of the Brahman. “Praana is this Atman. Praana constitutes the glory of this Atman”.

    (Aerobic life is meant as the most important stage of evolution.)

  3. Praana constitutes the power of the Gods. Praana is both the life and death of the Gods.

    (Gods may also mean organs of the body.)

  4. The Brahman (who is the source of Brahmapura) is Self-effulgent. He has no attributes. He is all pervading.
  5. Brahman controls the Jiva, just as the spider controls the bee (caught in its web).
  6. The spider has the ability to spin and draw back the web. Similarly Praana holds the clue to the life and death of the Devas (organs).

    (Taken literally, “drawing back the web” is a mistake. A spider may abandon a web and allow it to decay.)

  7. Praana controls the Nadis or the nerve chords as their ‘God’.
  8. In sushupti (dreamless sleep) one goes ‘home’ like a falcon in the sky.

    (In deep sleep the subject-object differentiation disappears. The analogy of the falcon is not clear. Perhaps one glides smoothly into deep sleep almost effortlessly.)

  9. In sushupti one (referred to as Devadutta) does not run away even after being beaten by a stick. In a similar manner the Atman is not affected by the pleasant and other consequences of rituals.

    (When the identification with the subject or observer disappears there is no fear of the consequences. In a similar manner the realized person is not swayed by the vagaries of life.)

  10. An infant enjoys its games because it has no motive. Similarly Devadutta enjoys his dreamless sleep because the motive has become dormant.

    (An infant has no competitive spirit even as it feels insecure. It does not try to outwit or overcome others. Sadism is an adult trait. (?))

  11. He (Devadutta or his Atman) knows that he is the supreme enlightenment. Being desirous of the light he enjoys the enlightenment. Fixing attention on the next point he returns to the dream state like a leach that carries itself from one point (of suction) to another. The state that he does not give up is the waking state.

    (A cyclical set of waking and sleeping states is what is meant.)

  12. (Atman) carries all the states within itself like the vedic deity carries the eight sacrificial cups simultaneously. It is from him that the Vedas and Devas hang like breasts. 
  13. This (waking) good and evil obtain for the Self that is the internal controller. He is like a bird and can soar high. He is like the crab and can move sidewards. He is the lotus, the Purusha, Praana, the cause and the effect the Brahman and the Atman. Whoever knows this attains the transcendent Brahman.

    The analogies, the implications etc. of 8-13 are not clear.

To sum up: The first part of the Upanishad emphasizes the importance of the aerobic life. Brahman is self-effulgent. I feel the later part also deals with the overall importance of praana in living systems. I get the impression that praana is the internal controller and extends its sway over all the three states: the wakeful state, sleeping states with and without dreams.



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