Brahman in Upanishads



Om ! That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite.

The infinite proceeds from the infinite.

(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe),

It remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone.

Om ! Peace ! Peace ! Peace !

Brahman and Creation


BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad:

I-iv-9: They say:  Men think, ‘Through the knowledge of Brahman we shall become all’. Well, what did that Brahman know by which It became all ?

I-iv-10: This (self) was indeed Brahman in the beginning. It knew only Itself as, ‘I am Brahman’. Therefore It became all. And whoever among the gods knew It also became That; and the same with sages and men. The sage Vamadeva, while realising this (self) as That, knew, ‘I was Manu, and the sun’. And to this day whoever in like manner knows It as, ‘I am Brahman’, becomes all this (universe). Even the gods cannot prevail against him, for he becomes their self. While he who worships another god thinking, ‘He is one, and I am another’, does not know. He is like an animal to the gods. As many animals serve a man, so does each man serve the gods. Even if one animal is taken away, it causes anguish, what should one say of many animals ? Therefore it is not liked by them that men should know this.

II-iii-5: Now the subtle – it is (the corporeal) air and the ether that is in the body. It is immortal, it is unlimited, and it is undefined. The essence of that which is subtle, immortal, unlimited and undefined is this being that is in the right eye, for this is the essence of the undefined. 

Bhagavad Gita - Undescructive Brahman and Creatino of Universe.

भूतग्रामः स एवायं भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते।
रात्र्यागमेऽवशः पार्थ प्रभवत्यहरागमे।।8.19।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda

8.19 O son of Prtha, after being born again and again, that very multitude of beings disappears in spite of itself at the approach of night. It comes to life at the approach of day. 

Sanskrit commentary by Sri Sankaracharya

-- भूतग्रामः भूतसमुदायः स्थावरजङ्गमलक्षणः यः पूर्वस्मिन् कल्पे आसीत् स एव अयं नान्यः। भूत्वा भूत्वा अहरागमे, प्रलीयते पुनः पुनः रात्र्यागमे अह्नः क्षये अवशः अस्वतन्त्र एव, हे पार्थ, प्रभवति जायते अवश एव अहरागमे।।यत् उपन्यस्तम् अक्षरम्, तस्य प्राप्त्युपायो निर्दिष्टः 'ओमित्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म (गीता 8।13)' इत्यादिना। अथ इदानीम् अक्षरस्यैव स्वरूपनिर्दिदिक्षया इदम् उच्यते, अनेन योगमार्गेण इदं गन्तव्यमिति -- ।।8.19।।

Hindi translation by Sri Harikrishandas Goenka (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary) 

न किये कर्मोंका फल मिलना और किये हुए कर्मोंका फल न मिलना, इस दोषका परिहार करनेके लिये, बन्धन और मुक्तिका मार्ग बतलानेवाले शास्त्रवाक्योंकी सफलता दिखानेके लिये और 'अविद्यादि पञ्च-क्लेशमूलक कर्मसंस्कारोंके वशमें पड़कर पराधीन हुआ प्राणी-समुदाय बारंबार उत्पन्न हो-होकर लय हो जाता है' -- इस प्रकारके कथनसे संसारमें वैराग्य दिखलानेके लिये यह कहते हैं -- जो पहले कल्पमें था, वही -- दूसरा नहीं -- यह स्थावर-जङ्गमरूप भूतोंका समुदाय ब्रह्माके दिनके आरम्भमें, बारंबार उत्पन्न हो-होकर दिनकी समाप्ति और रात्रिका प्रवेश होनेपर पराधीन हुआ ही बारंबार लय होता जाता है और फिर उसी प्रकार विवश होकर दिनके प्रवेशकालमें पुनः उत्पन्न होता जाता है ।।8.19।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary)

8.19 O son of Prtha, bhutva, after being born again and again at the approach of day; sah eva, that very-not any other; bhutagramah, multitude of beings, consisting of the moving and the non-moving objects that existed in the earlier cycle of creation; praliyate, disappears repeatedly; avasah, in spinte of itself, For they are impelled by their own defects without any independence whatever; ratri-agame, at the approach of night, at the close of the day. Prabhavati, it comes to life, verily in spite of itself; ahar-agame, at the approach of day.The means for the attainment of that Immutable which was introduced has been pointed out in, 'He who departs by leaving the body while uttering the single syllable, viz Om, which is Brahman, ' etc. (13). Now, with a vies to indicating the real nature of that very Immutable, this is being said-that It is to be reached through this path of yoga:

Also Refer B.G. 8.20

Brahman as substratum of all


BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad:

I-vi-1: This (universe) indeed consists of three things: name, form and action. Of those names, speech (sound in general) is the Uktha (source), for all names spring from it. It is their Saman (common feature), for it is common to all names. It is their Brahman (self), for it sustains all names. 

I-vi-2: Now of forms the eye (anything visible) is the Uktha (source), for all forms spring from it. It is their Saman (common feature), for it is common to all forms. It is their Brahman (self), for it sustains all forms. 

Different Levels of Truths


BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad:

II-iii-1: Brahman has but two forms – gross and subtle, mortal and immortal, limited and unlimited, defined and undefined. 

II-iii-2: The gross (form) is that which is other than air and the ether. It is mortal, it is limited, and it is defined. The essence of that which is gross, mortal, limited and defined is the sun that shines, for it is the essence of the defined. 

II-iii-3: Now the subtle – it is air and the ether. It is immortal, it is unlimited, and it is undefined. The essence of that which is subtle, immortal, unlimited and undefined is the being that is in the sun, for that is the essence of the undefined. This is with reference to the gods. 

II-iii-4: Now with reference to the body: the gross form is but this – what is other than (the corporeal) air and the ether that is in the body. It is mortal, it is limited and it is defined. The essence of that which is gross, mortal, limited and defined is the eye, for it is the essence of the defined. 

II-iii-5: Now the subtle – it is (the corporeal) air and the ether that is in the body. It is immortal, it is unlimited, and it is undefined. The essence of that which is subtle, immortal, unlimited and undefined is this being that is in the right eye, for this is the essence of the undefined. 

II-iii-6: The form of that ‘being’ is as follows: like a cloth dyed with turmeric, or like grey sheep’s wool, or like the (scarlet) insect called Indragopa, or like a tongue of fire, or like a white lotus, or like a flash of lightning. He who knows it as such attains splendour like a flash of lightning. Now therefore the description (of Brahman): ‘Not this, not this’. Because there is no other and more appropriate description than this ‘Not this’. Now Its name: ‘The Truth of truth’. The vital force is truth, and It is the Truth of that. 


Brahman as All


BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad:

II-iv-14: Because when there is duality, as it were, then one smells something, one sees something, one hears something, one speaks something, one thinks something, one knows something. (But) when to the knower of Brahman everything has become the self, then what should one smell and through what, what should one see and through what, what should one hear and through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one think and through what, what should one know and through what ? Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known – through what, O Maitreyi, should one know the Knower ? 

II-v-1: This earth is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this earth. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this earth, and the shining, immortal, corporeal being in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-2: This water is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this water. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this water, and the shining, immortal being identified with the seed in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-3: This fire is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this fire. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this fire, and the shining, immortal being identified with the organ of speech in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-4: This air is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this air. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this air, and the shining, immortal being who is the vital force in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-5: This sun is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this sun. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this sun, and the shining, immortal being identified with the eye in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-6: These quarters is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to these quarters. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is these quarters, and the shining, immortal being identified with the ear and with the time of hearing in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-7: This moon is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this moon. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this moon, and the shining, immortal being identified with the mind in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 
II-v-8: This lightning is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this lightning. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this lightning, and the shining, immortal being identified with light in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-9: This cloud is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this cloud. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this cloud, and the shining, immortal being identified with sound and voice in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 
II-v-10: This ether is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this ether. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this ether, and the shining, immortal being identified with the ether in the heart, in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-11: This righteousness (Dharma) is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this righteousness. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this righteousness, and the shining, immortal being identified with righteousness in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-12: This truth is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this truth. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this truth, and the shining, immortal being identified with truth in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-13: This human species is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this human species. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this human species, and the shining, immortal being identified with the human species in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-14: This (cosmic) body is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this (cosmic) body. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this (cosmic) body, and the shining, immortal being who is this (individual) self. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all. 

II-v-15: This Self, already mentioned, is the ruler of all beings, and the king of all beings. Just as all the spokes are fixed in the nave and the felloe of a chariot-wheel, so are all beings, all gods, all worlds, all organs and all these (individual) selves fixed in this Self. 


Definition of Purusha


BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad:

II-v-18: This is that meditation on things mutually helpful which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught the Asvins. Perceiving this the Rishi said, ‘He made bodies with two feet and bodies with four feet. That supreme Being first entered the bodies as a bird (the subtle body).’ On account of his dwelling in all bodies, He is called the Purusha. There is nothing that is not covered by Him, nothing that is not pervaded by Him. 

NirguNa Brahman as Ishvara


Bhagavad Gita

अव्यक्ताद्व्यक्तयः सर्वाः प्रभवन्त्यहरागमे।
रात्र्यागमे प्रलीयन्ते तत्रैवाव्यक्तसंज्ञके।।8.18।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda

8.18 With the coming of day all manifested things emerge from the Unmanifest and when night comes they merge in that itself which is called the Unmanifested.

Sanskrit commentary by Sri Sankaracharya

-- अव्यक्तात् अव्यक्तं प्रजापतेः स्वापावस्था तस्मात् अव्यक्तात् व्यक्तयः व्यज्यन्त इति व्यक्तयः स्थावरजङ्गमलक्षणाः सर्वाः प्रजाः प्रभवन्ति अभिव्यज्यन्ते, अह्नः आगमः अहरागमः तस्मिन् अहरागमे काले ब्रह्मणः प्रबोधकाले। तथा रात्र्यागमे ब्रह्मणः स्वापकाले प्रलीयन्ते सर्वाः व्यक्तयः तत्रैव पूर्वोक्ते अव्यक्तसंज्ञके।।अकृताभ्यागमकृतविप्रणाशदोषपरिहारार्थम्, बन्धमोक्षशास्त्रप्रवृत्तिसाफल्यप्रदर्शनार्थम् अविद्यादिक्लेशमूलकर्माशयवशाच्च अवशः भूतग्रामः भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते इत्यतः संसारे वैराग्यप्रदर्शनार्थं च इदमाह -- ।।8.18।।

Hindi translation by Sri Harikrishandas Goenka (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary) 

प्रजापतिके दिनमें और रात्रिमें जो कुछ होता है उसका वर्णन किया जाता है -- दिनके आरम्भकालका नाम 'अहरागम' है, ब्रह्माके दिनके आरम्भकालमें अर्थात् ब्रह्माके प्रबोधकालमें अव्यक्तसे -- प्रजापतिकी निद्रावस्थासे समस्त व्यक्तियाँ -- स्थावर-जङ्गमरूप समस्त प्रजाएँ उत्पन्न होती हैं -- प्रकट होती हैं। जो व्यक्त-प्रकट होती है, उसका नाम व्यक्ति है। तथा रात्रिके आनेपर -- ब्रह्माके शयन करनेके समस्त उस पूर्वोक्त अव्यक्त नामक प्रजापतिकी निद्रावस्थामें ही समस्त प्राणी लीन हो जाते हैं ।।8.18।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary)

8.18 Ahar-agame, with the coming of day, at the time when Brahma wakes; sarvah vyaktayah, all manifested things, all things that get manifested, all creatures characterized as moving and non-moving; prabhavanti, emerge, become manifested; avyaktat, from the Unmanifested-avyakta (Unmanifested) is the state of sleep of Prajapati; from that avyakta. Similarly, ratri-agame, when night comes, at the time when Brahma sleeps; praliyante, they, all the manifested things, merge; tatra eva, in that itself; avyakta-sanjnake, which is called the Unmanifested referred to above.In order to obviate the defect of the emergence of some unmerited result and the destruction of merited results; The following verse says that the very same multitude of beings continues in the different cycles of creation, and there-fore these two defects do not arise. for pointing out the meaningfulness of the scriptures For the earlier reason the scriptures do not lose their validity. dealing with bondage and Liberation; and with a view to propounding detachment from the world on the ground that the helpless multitude of beings perishes after being born again and again under the influence of accumulated results of actions that have for their origin such evils as ignorance etc. The five evils are: ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and clinging to life. (See P. Y. Su. 2.3), the Lord says this: 

Self is Brahman


BrihadAraNyaka Upanishad:

II-v-15: This Self, already mentioned, is the ruler of all beings, and the king of all beings. Just as all the spokes are fixed in the nave and the felloe of a chariot-wheel, so are all beings, all gods, all worlds, all organs and all these (individual) selves fixed in this Self. 


II-v-19: This is that meditation on things mutually helpful which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught the Asvins. Perceiving this the Rishi said, ‘(He) transformed Himself in accordance with each form; that form of His was for the sake of making Him known. The Lord on account of Maya (notions superimposed by ignorance) is perceived as manifold, for to Him are yoked ten organs, nay, hundreds of them. He is the organs; He is ten and thousands – many and infinite. That Brahman is without prior or posterior, without interior or exterior. This self, the perceiver of everything, is Brahman. This is the teaching.



2 Brahmans | Two Brahmans | Two levels of the unmenifested


Refer Br. Up. II-iii-6

Bhagavad Gita

परस्तस्मात्तु भावोऽन्योऽव्यक्तोऽव्यक्तात्सनातनः।
यः स सर्वेषु भूतेषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति।।8.20।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda

8.20 But distinct from that Unmanifested is the other eternal unmainfest Reality, who does not get destroyed when all beings get destroyed. 

Sanskrit commentary by Sri Sankaracharya

-- परः व्यतिरिक्तः भिन्नः; कुतः? तस्मात् पूर्वोक्तात्। तु-शब्दः अक्षरस्य विवक्षितस्य अव्यक्तात् वैलक्षण्यविशेषणार्थः। भावः अक्षराख्यं परं ब्रह्म। व्यतिरिक्तत्वे सत्यपि सालक्षण्यप्रसङ्गोऽस्तीति तद्विनिवृत्त्यर्थम् आह -- अन्यः इति। अन्यः विलक्षणः। स च अव्यक्तः अनिन्द्रियगोचरः। 'परस्तस्मात्' इत्युक्तम्; कस्मात् पुनः परः? पूर्वोक्तात् भूतग्रामबीजभूतात् अविद्यालक्षणात् अव्यक्तात्। अन्यः विलक्षणः भावः इत्यभिप्रायः। सनातनः चिरन्तनः यः सः भावः सर्वेषु भूतेषु ब्रह्मादिषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति। ।।8.20।।

Hindi translation by Sri Harikrishandas Goenka (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary) 

जिस अक्षरका पहले प्रतिपादन किया था उसकी प्राप्तिका उपाय 'ओमित्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म' इत्यादि कथनसे बतला दिया। अब उसी अक्षरके स्वरूपका निर्देश करनेकी इच्छासे यह बतलाया जाता है कि 'इस योगमार्गद्वारा अमुक वस्तु मिलती है' -- 'तु' शब्द यहाँ आगे वर्णन किये जानेवाले अक्षरकी उस पूर्वोक्त अव्यक्तसे विलक्षणता दिखलानेके लिये है। ( वह अव्यक्त ) भाव यानी अक्षरनामक परब्रह्म परमात्मा अत्यन्त भिन्न है। किससे? उस पहले कहे हुए अव्यक्त से। भिन्न होनेपर भी किसी प्रकार समानता हो सकती है? इस शंकाकी निवृत्तिके लिये कहते हैं कि वह इन्द्रियोंसे प्रत्यक्ष न होनेवाला अव्यक्तभाव अन्य -- दूसरा है अर्थात् सर्वथा विलक्षण है। उससे पर है ऐसा कहा, सो किससे पर है? वह उस पूर्वोक्त भूत-समुदायके बीजभूत अविद्यारूप अव्यक्तसे परे है। ऐसा जो सनातन भाव अर्थात् सदासे होनेवाला भाव है, वह ब्रह्मादि समस्त प्राणियोंका नाश होनेपर भी नष्ट नहीं होता ।।8.20।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda (on Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary)

8.20 He is parah, distinct, different;-From what?-tasmat, from that aforesaid (Unmanifested).The word tu, but, is meant for showing the distinction of the Immutable that is going to be spoken of from the Unmanifested.He is bhavah, the Reality, the supreme Brahman called the Immutable. Even though different, there is the possibility of similarlity of characteristics. Hence, for obviating this the Lord says: anyah, the other, of a different characteristic, and He is the Immutable which is beyond the range of the organs. It has been said that He is distinct from that. From what, again is He distinct? Avyaktat, from the Unmaifested spoken of earlier, which is the seed of the multitude of beings, and which is characterized as ignorance (avidya) Ast. adds, 'anyah vilaksanah, bhavah ityabhiprayah: The meaning is that the Reality is different and distinct (form that Unmanifested).-Tr. He is sanatnah, eternal.Bhavah, the Reality; yah sah, who is such; na, does not; vinasyati, get destroyed; when sarvesu bhutesu, all beings, beginning from Brahma; nasyatsu, get destroyed.

Please refer B.G. 8.18-20 to understand process of creation. 

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