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WISDOM OF CHINA AND INDIA Contents

SHVETASHVATARA UPANISHAD

English version by Sanderson Beck

This has been published in the WISDOM BIBLE as a book. For ordering information, please click here. This text is also available as spoken by Sanderson Beck on CD.

1. The Soul
2. Practicing Union
3. Knowing God
4. Prayer to God
5. God Rules
6. Greatness of God


1
Lovers of God ask, "What is the cause? God?
Where do we come from? By what power do we live?
On what are we established?
Who rules over our various pains and pleasures, God-knowers?

Time or its own nature or necessity or chance
or the elements or a womb or Spirit are to be considered,
not a combination of these, because of the soul's existence.
The soul cannot be the cause of pleasure and pain.

Those who practiced meditation and union
saw the divine soul power hidden in their own qualities.
It is the one who rules over all these causes,
from time to the soul.

It is understood as one wheel with three layers,
sixteen parts, fifty spokes, twenty counter-spokes,
six groups of eight, whose one rope is diverse,
which has three different paths,
whose single illusion has two conditioning causes.

It is understood as an impetuous and crooked river
of five streams from five sources,
whose waves are the five vital breaths,
whose origin is fivefold understanding,
with five whirlpools, a violent flood of fivefold misery,
divided into five disturbances with five branches.

In this which vitalizes all things,
which appears in all things, the supreme---
in this God-wheel the human spirit wanders around
thinking that the soul and the causer are different.

When favored by this, one attains immortality.
This has been sung as the supreme God.
In it there is a triad.
It is the firm support, the imperishable.
By knowing what is in there, God-knowers merge in God,
intent on it, liberated from the womb.

What is joined together as perishable and imperishable,
as manifest and unmanifest---the Lord supports it all.
Without the Lord, the soul is bound because of enjoying;
by knowing the divine, one is released from all restriction.

There are two unborn ones: the wise and the unwise,
the powerful and the powerless.
She too is unborn who is connected
with the enjoyer and objects of enjoyment.

The soul is infinite, universal, detached.
When one discovers this triad, that is God.
What is perishable is the material.
What is immortal and imperishable is the bearer.
Over both the perishable and the soul the divine one rules.

By meditating on this, by union with this,
and by entering into this being more and more
there finally occurs the cessation of every illusion.
By knowing the divine, every restriction passes away;
with disturbances ended, birth and death cease.

By meditating on this,
there is a third stage at the dissolution of the body,
universal lordship;
being absolute, one's desire is satisfied.
That eternal should be known as present in the soul.
Nothing higher than that can be known.

When one recognizes the enjoyer, the object of enjoyment,
and the universal causer, all has been said.
This is the threefold God.

As the form of fire when latent in its material
is not perceived---
and yet there is no disappearance of its potential---
but it may be sparked again by a drill in its material,
so both are found in the body by the use of AUM.
By making one's body the lower friction-stick
and the word AUM the upper friction-stick,
by practicing the friction of meditation,
one may see the divine which is hidden come to light.

As oil in sesame seeds, as butter in cream,
as water in springs, and as fire in the friction-sticks,
so is the soul found in one's own self,
if one looks for it with real discipline.

The soul which pervades all things,
as butter is contained in cream,
which is rooted in self-knowledge and discipline---
this is God, the highest mystic doctrine!
This is God, the highest mystic doctrine!

2
Savitri, first controlling the mind and thought for truth,
discerned the light of fire and brought it out of the earth.
With mind controlled, we are inspired by the god Savitri,
for heaven and strength.
With mind having controlled the powers
that go into heaven through thought,
may Savitri inspire them to become great light!

The seers of the great god
control their mind and thoughts.
The one who knows the rules has arranged the rituals.
The chorus sings the glory of the god Savitri.
I join your prayer to God with adoration.
May my verses go forth like the sun on its path.
May all the children of immortality listen,
even those who have ascended to heaven.

Where the fire burns, where the wind blows,
where the juice overflows, there mind is born.
Inspired by Savitri one should delight in the prayer to God.
If you make this your foundation,
the past will not tarnish you.

Holding the body steady with the three parts erect,
and causing the senses with the mind to enter into the heart,
the wise with the God-boat cross over the rivers of fear.
Having restrained one's breath here in the body,
and having one's movements checked,
one should breathe through the nostrils with lessened breath.
Like the chariot yoked with wild horses,
the wise should restrain the mind attentively.

In a clean, level spot,
without rubbish, fire, and blemishes,
where the sound of water and other surroundings
are favorable to thought, not offensive to the eye,
in a hidden retreat protected from the wind,
one should practice union.

Fog, smoke, sun, fire, wind, fire-flies,
lightning, crystal, and a moon---
these are the preliminary appearances
before the manifestation of God in union.

When the fivefold quality of union has been produced,
arising from earth, water, fire, air, and space,
no sickness nor old age nor death
has the one who obtains a body made from the fire of union.

Lightness, health, steadiness, a clear countenance,
a pleasant voice, a sweet odor, and scant excretions---
these are the first stage in the progress of union.

Just as a mirror covered by dust
shines brilliantly when it has been cleaned,
so the embodied one on seeing the nature of the soul,
becomes one, the goal attained, free from sorrow.

When with the nature of the self, as with a lamp,
a practicer of union sees here the nature of God,
unborn, firm, from every nature free---
by knowing the divine, one is released from all restriction.

That God faces all the quarters of heaven.
It was born, is in the womb, is born, and will be born.
It stands opposite creatures facing all directions.
The God who is in fire, who is in water,
who has entered into the whole universe,
who is in plants, who is in trees---
to that God be the glory---yes, the glory!

3
The one spreader of the net, who rules with power,
who rules all the worlds with power,
the one who stands alone
in their rising and continuing existence---
those who know that one become immortal.

For Rudra is the one, others notwithstanding for a moment,
who rules all the worlds with power,
watching over creatures as their protector,
after creating them all, merging them together at the end.
Having eyes and mouths everywhere, arms and feet everywhere,
the one God making hands and wings,
creates the heaven and the earth.

The source and origin of the gods,
ruler of all, may Rudra,
the great seer, who anciently created the golden germ,
endow us with clear intellect.
Your form, Rudra, which is kind, free from fear and evil,
with that most loving form, appear to us,
resident of the mountains.
Resident of the mountains, make kind the arrow
which you hold in your hand to throw, mountain protector.
Do not injure human nor animal.

Higher than this is God, the supreme, the infinite,
hidden in all things, body by body,
the one embracing the universe---
by knowing this as Lord, humans become immortal.

I know this great Spirit,
radiant as the sun, beyond darkness.
Only by knowing this does one pass over death;
there is no other path for going there.
Nothing else is higher; nothing else is smaller,
nothing greater than the one
that stands like a tree established in heaven.

The whole world is filled by this, the Spirit.
That which is beyond this world
is without form and without ill.
Those who know that become immortal,
but others go only to sorrow.

The face, the head, the neck of all,
living in the hearts of all, all-pervading is this,
and generous, thus omnipresent and kind.
A great Lord is the Spirit, the initiator of goodness
to its purest attainment, the glory of imperishable light.

Spirit, the size of a thumb, is the inner soul,
always seated in the hearts of beings,
it is reached by the heart, by understanding, by the mind.
Those who know that become immortal.

The Spirit has innumerable heads, eyes, and feet.
It surrounds the earth on all sides
and stands ten inches beyond.
The Spirit in truth is the whole universe,
whatever has been and whatever will be,
also sovereign of immortality and whatever grows by food.
Its hands and feet are everywhere,
everywhere its eyes and head and face;
its ears are everywhere. It stands encompassing all.

Seeming to have the quality of all the senses,
it is empty of all the senses,
the sovereign Lord of all, the great shelter of all.
Though embodied in the nine-gated city,
back and forth to the external flies the human spirit,
the master of the universe, both the moving and non-moving.

Without foot or hand, it is swift and a grabber.
It sees without eyes and hears without ears.
It knows whatever can be known, but no one knows it.
People call it the supreme primal Spirit.

Subtler than the subtle, greater than the great,
is the soul that is set in the heart of a being here.
One sees it as being without active will
and becomes liberated from sorrow,
when through the grace of the creator
one sees the Lord and its greatness.

I know this undecaying, primal soul of all,
always present in everything,
exempt from birth, as they say,
for the God-knowers speak of it as eternal.

4
The one who is without color,
diversified by its union power,
distributes many colors in its hidden purpose,
and into this, its end and beginning, the universe dissolves.

It is divine.
May it endow us with clear intellect.
It is fire; it is the sun; it is air, and it is the moon.
It is the seed; it is God;
it is the waters; it is the creator.

You are woman; you are man;
you are the boy and the maiden.
You are that old person who walks supported by a staff.
Being born, you face every direction.
You are the blue bird and the green one with scarlet eyes.
You give birth to lightning and are the seasons and the seas.

Without beginning you are inherently present
in all beings which are born.
With the one unborn female, red, white, and black,
who gives birth to many creatures like herself,
there lies the one unborn male enjoying her.
The other unborn male leaves after enjoying her.

They are two birds, close companions,
clasping the same tree.
Of the two, one eats sweet fruit;
the other looks on without eating.
On this same tree a person,
sunk and grieving in slavery, is deluded,
but upon observing the Lord happy and great,
becomes free of sorrow.

What good are the sacred verses,
in the highest heaven where all the gods are seated,
to the one who does not know this?
Those who know this are assembled here.

Sacred poetry, sacrifices, ceremonies, vows,
the past, the future, and what the scriptures declare,
all this the illusion-maker projects out of this,
and in it by illusion the other is confined.

Thus know that nature is illusion
and that the great Lord is the illusion-maker.
The whole world is filled
with beings who are parts of this.

The one who rules over every source,
in whom the universe comes together and dissolves,
the Lord, giver of blessings, divinely loving,
by revering this, one finds peace.

That which is the source and origin of the gods,
sovereign of all, may Rudra, the great seer,
who saw the golden germ when it was born,
endow us with clear intellect.

Who is the master of the gods on whom the worlds rest?
Who is the Lord of the two-footed and four-footed here?
To what god shall we reverently give offerings?

Subtler than the subtle in the middle of confusion,
the creator of all in various forms,
the one embracer of the universe,
by knowing this as kind one attains eternal peace.

It is the protector of the world in time,
the master of the universe, hidden in all creatures,
with whom the seers of God and the gods are joined in union.
By knowing this, one cuts the ties of death.

By knowing as kind the one who is hidden in all things,
very fine like clarified butter, richer than butter,
the one who encompasses the whole universe---
by knowing the divine you may be released from bondage.

This God, the world-builder, the great soul,
always seated in the heart of creatures,
is reached by the heart, by understanding, by the mind.
Those who know that become immortal.

When there is no darkness, then there is no day or night,
no being or non-being, only the kind one alone.
That is the imperishable, the splendor of Savitri;
from that came primal wisdom.

Not above nor across
nor in the middle has one grasped this.
There is no comparison to that whose name is great glory.
Its form cannot be seen; no one ever sees it with eyes.
Those who know it in heart and mind
as living in the heart become immortal.

Knowing you are unborn, one approaches in fear.
Rudra, with your smiling face protect me forever.
Do not hurt our children nor our grandchildren,
nor our lives nor our cattle nor our horses.
Do not kill our heroes in anger, Rudra.
With offerings we always call upon you.

5
In the imperishable, infinite, supreme God
two things are hidden: knowledge and ignorance.
Ignorance dies, but knowledge is immortal.

That which is master of both is something else,
the one who rules over every source of creation,
all forms and all sources,
who holds in thought and sees when born
that red seer who was born at the beginning.

That God spreads out every net diversely
and draws it together in this field.
Thus having created the exercisers,
the Lord, the great soul, exercises universal sovereignty.

As the radiant sun shines
upon all regions above, below, and across,
so does this glorious one God of love
rule over whatever creatures are born from a womb.

The source of all who develops its own nature,
who brings to maturity whatever can be ripened,
that one distributes all qualities
and rules over this whole world.

What is hidden in the secret of the Vedas,
that is, in the Upanishads -
God knows that as the source of the sacred.
The gods and ancient seers who knew that
have become by its nature immortal.

Whoever has qualities performs works that bring results;
of such actions one experiences the consequences.
Undergoing all forms, characterized by the three qualities,
walking the three paths, the ruler of the vital breaths
wanders around according to one's actions.

It is the size of a thumb, bright as the sun,
when coupled with conception and ego.
But with only the qualities of understanding and soul,
it appears the size of the point of an awl.
This life is the hundredth part
of the point of a hair divided a hundred times,
and yet in it is infinity.

Not female nor male nor is it neuter.
Whatever body it takes to itself, with that it is connected.
By the delusions of imagination, touch, and sight,
and by eating, drinking, and impregnating
there is birth and development of the soul.

According to its actions the embodied one
successively assumes forms in various conditions.
Gross or refined, the embodied one chooses many forms
according to its own qualities.
Subsequently the cause of its union with them can be seen
because of the quality of its actions and of itself.

The one who is without beginning and without end,
in the middle of confusion, the creator of all,
of diverse form, is the one embracer of the universe.
By knowing the divine, one is released from all restriction.
The incorporeal is to be apprehended by the heart,
the master of existence and non-existence, the kind one,
the divine maker of all creation and its parts.
Those who know this, leave the body behind.

6
Some seers say it is self-existence,
others time; they are deluded.
It is the greatness of God in the world
by which this wheel of God revolves.
It envelopes the whole universe, is intelligent,
the creator of time, possessing the qualities, omniscient.

Ruled over by this, the cycle of works revolves,
earth, water, fire, air, and space.
It creates this work and rests again.
It joins itself with principle after principle,
with one, two, three, or eight,
with time and the subtleties of soul.

It begins with works subject to the qualities
and distributes all existences.
In the absence of these
the work that has been done disappears.
In the destruction of the work it continues,
because it is essentially different.

The beginning, the efficient cause of what is combined,
it is to be seen as beyond the three times and timeless.
Revere this as infinite, the origin of all being,
the God of love who lives in one's own thoughts, the primal.
Higher and different than the cosmic tree, time, and forms
is this from whom proceeds all phenomena.

Bringer of justice, remover of evil, Lord of prosperity---
know this as in one's own soul, as the immortal home of all.
This who is the supreme Lord of Lords, supreme God of gods,
supreme ruler of rulers, paramount,
this let us know as the God of love, the Lord of the world.

No action or organ of it can be found.
There is not seen its equal nor a superior.
Its high power is revealed to be diverse,
and innate is the working of its intelligence and strength.
It has no ruler in the world nor Lord, nor is there any mark.
It is the cause, sovereign over the Lord of sense-organs.
It has no parent nor ruler.

The one God which covers itself like a spider,
with a web produced from primal matter of its own existence,
may this grant us entrance into God.

The one God hidden in all things, all-pervading,
the inner soul of all beings, the master of action,
living in all things, the witness, the thinker,
without qualities, the one controller of the passive many,
who makes the one seed manifold---
the wise who perceive this as standing in one's soul,
they and no one else have eternal bliss.

That which is constant among the changing,
the intelligence in all consciousness,
the one among the many, who fulfills desires,
that cause, attainable by discernment and spiritual union---
by knowing God, one is released from all restriction.

There the sun does not shine, nor the moon and stars;
lightning does not shine, much less this fire.
As it shines, so does everything else shine.
This whole world is illuminated by its light.

The one swan of being in the heart of this universe,
this is the fire that has entered into the ocean.
Only by knowing this does one transcend death.
There is no other path for going there.

That which is the creator of all, all-knowing,
originating from itself, intelligent, creator of time,
possessor of qualities, omniscient,
is the ruler of primal matter and the field of understanding,
Lord of the qualities, cause of reincarnation and liberation,
of continuance and of bondage.

This is the immortal, existing as the Lord,
intelligent, omnipresent, protector of the universe,
who constantly rules this world.
Is there any other ruler than this?

That which anciently created Brahma
and gave him the Vedas,
to that God who is the light of self-knowledge,
do I, questing for liberation, go for refuge,
to that which is without parts, without activity, peaceful,
faultless, stainless, the supreme bridge to immortality,
like a fire without smoke.

When people roll up space like a skin,
then there will be an end of evil without knowing God.

By the efficacy of his discipline and by the grace of God,
the wise Shvetashvatara correctly declared God
to the students of the most advanced stage of discipline,
which is well pleasing to the company of seers.

The supreme mystery in the end of the Vedas,
which has been declared in former times,
should not be given to one who is not peaceful,
nor to anyone who is not a son or a pupil.

If one has supreme devotion to God,
and for one's teacher as much as for God,
to this one these teachings which have been declared
may become manifest in a great soul,
yes, may become manifest in a great soul.

Copyright 1996, 2002 by Sanderson Beck

This has been published in the WISDOM BIBLE as a book. For ordering information, please click here. This text is also available as spoken by Sanderson Beck on CD.

WISDOM OF CHINA AND INDIA Contents

UPANISHADS Introduction
KENA UPANISHAD
KATHA UPANISHAD
ISHA UPANISHAD
MUNDAKA UPANISHAD
PRASHNA UPANISHAD
MANDUKYA UPANISHAD
SHVETASHVATARA UPANISHAD
Vedas and Upanishads ETHICS OF CIVILIZATION

BECK index