Mundaka Upanishad: Book III


1. 'Two birds, companions and friends,
Cling to the same tree.
One of them eats the sweet pippala-berry:
The other looks on, without eating.

2. In the same tree a man is plunged.
Deluded, he grieves from powerlessness:
When he sees the other, powerful one, content,
Sees his greatness, he is freed from sorrow.

3. 'When the seer sees the gold-coloured
Maker, powerful one, person, source of brahman,
Knowing him, he shakes off good and evil;
Stainless, he reaches supreme equality.

4. 'He is breath which shines out through all beings:
Knowing, one becomes a knower, who does not speak too much.
Playing in the self, enjoying the self, performing works,
One is the finest of the knowers of brahman.

5. 'The self may be won by truth, by asceticism,
By right knowing, by constant celibacy.
Pure, it is in the body, made of light.
That which the Yatis see, their faults worn away.

6. It is truth that conquers, not falsehood-
By truth is laid out the path to the gods
By which the Rsis, their desires fulfilled,
Travel to the highest abode of truth.

7. 'Great, divine, its form inconceivable,
Subtler than the subtle, it shines out:
It is farther than the far, and yet it is at hand,
Hidden in a secret place, here, among those who see.

8. 'It is not grasped by the eye, nor yet by speech
Nor by the other gods, nor by asceticism or work.
By the calming of knowledge, the meditator,
His nature purified, sees it, without parts.

9. 'The subtle self may be known by consciousness
In which the breaths, fivefold, have entered.
The whole consciousness of creatures is woven with the breaths.
When that is purified, the self appears in it.

10. 'His nature purified, whatever world
He illuminates with his mind, and whatever desires he desires,
He wins that world and those desires:
So one who desires prosperity should honour the knower of the self.


1. 'He knows the supreme place of brahman,
On which the all, being fixed, shines brightly.
Those wise ones, without desire, who contemplate the person
Go beyond the seed.

2. 'The one who desires desires, dwelling on them,
Through desires is born here and there.
But the desires of the one who has fully attained his desire
And fulfilled himself, all pass away here.

3. The self cannot be won by speaking,
Nor by intelligence or much learning,
It can be won by the one whom it chooses.
To him the self reveals its own form,

4. 'The self cannot be won by the weakline,
Nor through carelessness, or asceticism misapplied
But the self of the one who strives by these means
Enters the place of brahman.

5. 'On reaching him, the Rsis, contented with knowledge,
With selves fulfilled, free from passion, at peace,
Win him who is everywhere, all around:
Wise, self-controlled, they enter the all.

6. 'Discerning well the aim of the knowledge of Vedanta,
Their nature purified through the yoga of renunciation, all the Yatis
Having gone beyond death, at the ending time
Are liberated in the worlds of brahman.

7. 'The fifteen parts have gone to their bases
And all the gods into their own deities:
The actions and the self made of knowledge
All become one in the supreme unfailing one.

8. 'Just as flowing rivers go down into the sea
Leaving name and form behind,
The one who knows, freed from name and form,
Reaches the divine person, higher than the highest.

9. "The one who knows the supreme brahman becomes
brahman, and there is no one in his family who does not
know brahman. He crosses over sorrow, crosses over evil:
freed from the knots of the secret place, he becomes immortal

10. 'This is taught in a reverse:
'One should teach this knowledge of brahman only to those
Who are skilled in ritual, learned, established in brahman,
Who themselves make offerings to the One Rsi, having faith,
And have properly performed the "vow of the head.'"

11. This is the truth. The %i Arigiras taught it of old. No
one learns it who has not performed the vow. Homage to
the supreme Rsis. Homage to the supreme Rsis.

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