Maitri Upanishad: Book I


1. OM. The fire-building of the ancients was a sacrifice of brahman: so after building the fires, the patron of the sacrifice should meditate on the self. Then the sacrifice becomes full and complete. Who is the one that should be meditated upon? The one called 'breath'. To explain further:

2. A king called Brhadratha established his eldest son in the kingship: then, considering that this body is not eternal, he attained dispassion and went out to the forest. There, embarking on the highest asceticism, he stood, arms held upwards, gazing at the sun. At the end of a thousand days, there came into the presence of the sage the blessed 6akayanya, a knower of the self, seeming to blaze with energy like a fire without smoke- He said to the king, 'Stand up, stand up! Choose a boon!'

Brhadratha paid homage to him, and said, 'Blessed one, I am not a knower of the self. We hear that you are a knower of the entity: so teach us.'

'This boon was of old difficult to achieve: do not ask the question, Aiksvaka. Choose other desires.'

Touching Sakayanya's feet with his head, the king uttered this chant:

3. 'This body comes into being from sexual intercourse, and, devoid of understanding, comes out through the gate of urine into a Hell-realm.6 It is constructed of bones, smeared with flesh, bound up with hide, filled with faeces, urine, bile, phlegm, marrow, fat, marrow of the flesh, and many other impurities. When one exists in such a body—

Blessed one, in this body, an evil-smelling insubstantial mass of bone, skin, muscle, marrow, seed, blood, mucus, tears, water of the eyes, faeces, urine, wind, bile, phlegm, what is the use of indulging in desires? In this body, afflicted with desire, anger, greed, delusion, fear, despondency, envy, being apart from what one likes and being with what one does not like, hunger, thirst, old age, death, disease, grief and so on, what is the use of indulging in desires?

4. 'We see that all this is transient, like the gadflies, mosquitoes and so on, and the grass and trees that grow up and perish.

'But what of these? There are others yet—great archers, some of them wheel-turning monarchs, Sudyumna,Bhuridyumna, Indradyumna, Kuvalayasva, Yauvanasva, Vadhryasva, Asvapati, Sasabindu, Hariscandra, Ambarisa, Nanaktu, Saryati, Yayati, Anaranya, Uksasena and so on. Kings Marutta, Bharata and others, though their whole tribes of relations looked on, left their great splendour and departed from this world to that world.

'But what of these? There are others yet. We see the demise of gandharvas, demons, yaksas, ogres, ghosts, imps, vampires, serpents, ghouls and so on,

'But what of these? Among the rest, there is the drying up of great oceans, the tumbling down of mountains, the precession of the Pole Star, the cutting of the ropes of wind, the submergence of the earth, the departure of gods from their place. In a samsara like this, what is the use of indulging in desires, when we see that the one who depends on them returns here again and again? You must lift me out of it. In samsara I am like a frog in a sealed well. Blessed one, you are our way out. You are our way out.'




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