The Shvetashvatara Upanishad (Sanskrit:श्वेताश्वतरोपनिशद or श्वेताश्वतर उपनिषद्, IAST: Śvetāśvataropaniṣad or Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad) is an ancient Sanskrit text embedded in the Yajurveda. It is listed as number 14 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. The Upanishad contains 113 mantras or verses in six chapters.
The Upanishad is one of the 33 Upanishads from Taittiriyas, and associated with the Shvetashvatara tradition within Karakas sakha of the Yajurveda. It is a part of the "black" Yajurveda, with the term "black" implying "the un-arranged, motley collection" of content in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" (well arranged) Yajurveda where Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Isha Upanishad are embedded.
The chronology of Maitrayaniya Upanishad is contested, but generally accepted to be a late period Upanishadic composition. The text includes a closing credit to sage Shvetashvatara, considered the author of the Upanishad. However, scholars believe that while sections of the text shows an individual stamp by its style, verses and other sections were interpolated and expanded over time; the Upanishad as it exists now is the work of more than one author.
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad opens with metaphysical questions about the primal cause of all existence, its origin, its end, and what role, if any, time, nature, necessity, chance, and the spirit had as the primal cause. It then develops its answer, concluding that "the Universal Soul exists in every individual, it expresses itself in every creature, everything in the world is a projection of it, and that there is Oneness, a unity of souls in one and only Self". The text is notable for its discussion of the concept of personal god – Ishvara, and suggesting it to be a path to one's own Highest Self. The text is also notable for its multiple mentions of both Rudra and Shiva, along with other Vedic deities, and of crystallization of Shiva as a central theme.
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad is a Principal Upanishad of Hinduism, commented by many of its ancient and medieval scholars. It is a foundational text of the philosophy of Shaivism, as well as the Yoga and Vedanta schools of Hinduism. Some 19th century scholars initially suggested that Shvetashvatara Upanishad is sectarian or possibly influenced by Christianity, hypotheses that were disputed, later discarded by scholars.
The name "Shvetashvatara" has the compound Sanskrit root Shvetashva (श्वेताश्व, Shvet + ashva), which literally means "white horse" and "drawn by white steeds". Shvetashvatara is a bahuvrihi compound of (Śvetaśva + tara), where tara means "crossing", "carrying beyond". The word Shvetashvatara translates to "the one carrying beyond on white horse" or simply "white mule that carries".
The text is sometimes spelled as Svetasvatara Upanishad. It is also known as Shvetashvataropanishad or Svetasvataropanishad, and as Shvetashvataranam Mantropanishad.
In ancient and medieval literature, the text is frequently referred to in the plural, that is as Svetasvataropanishadah. Some metric poetic verses, such as Vakaspatyam simply refer to the text as Shvetashva.
The chronology of Shvetashvatara Upanishad, like other Upanishads, is uncertain and contested. The chronology is difficult to resolve because all opinions rest on scanty evidence, an analysis of archaism, style and repetitions across texts, driven by assumptions about likely evolution of ideas, and on presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies.
Phillips chronologically lists Shvetashvatara Upanishad after Mandukya Upanishad, but before and about the time the Maitri Upanishad, the first Buddhist Pali and Jaina canonical texts were composed. Ranade places Shvetashvatara Upanishad's chronological composition in the fourth group of ancient Upanishads, after Katha and Mundaka Upanishads. Deussen states that Shvetashvatara Upanishad refers to and incorporates phrases from the Katha Upanishad, and chronologically followed it.
Some sections of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad are found, almost in its entirety, in chronologically more ancient Sanskrit texts. For example, verses 2.1 through 2.3 are also found in chapter 4.1.1 of Taittiriya Samhita as well as in chapter 6.3.1 of Shatapatha Brahmana, while verses 2.4 and 2.5 are also found as hymns in chapters 5.81 and 10.13 of Rig Veda respectively. Similarly, many verses in chapters 3 through 6 are also found, in nearly identical form in the Samhitas of Rig Veda, Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda.
The text has six Adhyaya (chapters), each with varying number of verses. The first chapter includes 16 verses, the second has 17, the third chapter contains 21 verses, the fourth is composed of 22, the fifth has 14, while the sixth chapter has 23 verses. The last three verses of the sixth chapter are considered as epilogue. Thus, the Upanishad has 110 main verses and 3 epilogue verses.
The epilogue verse 6.21 is a homage to sage Shvetashvatara for proclaiming Brahman-knowledge to ascetics. This closing credit is structurally notable because of its rarity in ancient Indian texts, as well as for its implication that the four-stage Ashrama system of Hinduism, with ascetic Sannyasa, was an established tradition by the time verse 6.21 of Shvetashvatara Upanishad was composed.
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad has a poetic style and structure. However, unlike other ancient poetic Upanishads, the meter structure of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad varies significantly, is arbitrary and inconsistent within many verses in later chapters, some such as verse 2.17 lack a definite poetic meter entirely, suggesting that the text congealed from the work of several authors over a period of time, or was interpolated and expanded over time. The first chapter is the consistent one, with characteristics that makes it likely to be the work of one author, probably sage Shvetashvatara.
The Brahma-students say: Is Brahman the cause? Whence are we born?
Whereby do we live, and whither do we go?
O ye who know Brahman, tell us at whose command we abide, whether in pain or in pleasure.
Should time, or nature, or necessity, or chance,
or the elements be considered as the cause, or he who is called the Purusha?
It cannot be their union either, because that is not self-dependent, and the self also is powerless,
because there is, independent of him, a cause of good and evil.
Paul Deussen translates the opening metaphysical questions of the Upanishad thus,
The teachers of Brahman say: What is the primal cause? What is Brahman?
Wherefrom have we been born? By what do we subsist? and on what are we founded?
By whom regulated, do we have our being, ye wise men? in the changing conditions of joy and sorrow?
Are Time, Nature, Necessity, Chance, Basic matter, the Spirit, the primal cause?
Can the union of these be thought of as the primal cause?
It is not that, however, because the Self exists.
Still the Self also is not powerful enough to create joy and sorrow!
The Upanishad asserts, in verse 1.3, there are individuals who by meditation and yoga have realized their innate power of Self, powers that were veiled by their own gunas (innate personality, psychological attributes). Therefore, it is this "power of the Divine Soul" (Deva Atman Shakti, देवात्मशक्तिं) within each individual that presides over all the primal causes, including time and self.
Verses 1.4 through 1.12 of the Upanishad use Samkhya-style enumeration to state the subject of meditation, for those who seek the knowledge of soul. These verses use a poetic simile for a human being, with the unawakened individual soul described as a resting swan.
The verse 1.5, for example, states, "we meditate on the river whose water consists of five streams, which is wild and winding with its five springs, whose waves are the five vital breaths, whose fountainhead is the mind, of course of the five kinds of perceptions. It has five whirlpools, its rapids are the five pains, it has fifty kinds of sufferings, and five branches." Adi Shankara and other scholars have explained, using more ancient Indian texts, what each of these numbers correspond to. For example, the five streams are five receptive organs of a human body, the five waves are the five active organs of a human body, and five rapids are the major health-related life stages.
The subject of meditation, states Shvetashvatara Upanishad, is the knower and the non-knower, the God and non-God, both of which are eternal. The text distinguishes the highest soul from the individual soul, calling the former Isha and Ishvara, and asserting it is this Highest Brahman which is Eternal and where there is the triad - the bhoktri (subject), the bhogya (object), and the preritri (mover). With meditation, when a being fully realizes and possesses this triad within self, he knows Brahman. In verse 1.10, the text states the world is composed of the Pradhana which is perishable, and Hara the God that is the imperishable. By meditating on Hara and thus becoming one with God Hara, is the path to moksha (liberation). From meditating on it, states verse 1.11, man journeys unto the third state of existence, first that of blissful universal lordship, then further on to "perfect freedom, the divine alone-ness, the kevalatvam where the individual self is one with the divine self."
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, in verses 1.13 to 1.16, states that to know God, look within, know your Atman (Soul, Self). It suggests meditating with the help of syllable Om, where one's perishable body is like one fuel-stick and the syllable Om is the second fuel-stick, which with discipline and diligent churning of the sticks unleashes the concealed fire of thought and awareness within. Such knowledge and ethics is, asserts the Upanishad, the goal of Upanishad.
तिलेषु तैलं दधिनीव सर्पिरापः स्रोतःस्वरणीषु चाग्निः ।
एवमात्माऽत्मनि गृह्यतेऽसौ सत्येनैनं तपसा योऽनुपश्यति ॥ १५ ॥
सर्वव्यापिनमात्मानं क्षीरे सर्पिरिवार्पितम् ।
आत्मविद्यातपोमूलं तद्ब्रह्मोपनिषत्परं तद्ब्रह्मॊपनिषत्परमिति ॥ १६ ॥
As oil in sesame seeds, as butter in milk, as water in Srota, as fire in fuel-sticks,
he finds in his own self that One (Atman), he, who sees him through Satya (truthfulness) and Tapas (austerity). (15)
He sees the all prevading Atman, as butter lying dormant in milk,
rooted in self-knowledge and self-discipline – which is the final goal of the Upanishad, the final goal of Upanishad. (16)
The second Adhyaya of Shvetashvatara Upanishad is a motley collection of themes. It begins with prayer hymns to God Savitr, as the rising sun, the spiritual illuminator and the deity of inspiration and self-discipline. Thereafter, the Upanishad discusses Yoga as a means for self-knowledge.
The verses 2.8 and 2.9 describes yoga as state of body and mind, wherein the body is in threefold erect posture, and mind along with all senses are withdrawn into an introspective point within (the heart). In this state of yoga, the individual then breathes gently slowly through the nose, states the Upanishad, with any physical motions subdued or the body is still, the mind calm and undistracted. Such is the state where the self-reflective meditation starts. The text recommends a place to perform such yoga exercise as follows,
In a clean level spot, free from pebbles, fire and gravel,
Delightful by its sounds, its water and bowers,
Favorable to thought, not offensive to the eye,
In a hidden retreat protected from the wind,
One should practise Yoga.
The Upanishad, in verse 2.13, describes the first benefits of Yoga to be agility, better health, clear face, sweetness of voice, sweet odor, regular body functions, steadiness, and feeling of lightness in one's personality. Yoga then leads to the knowledge of the essence of the Self, the nature of the Soul.
Verses 3.1 through 3.6 of the Shwetashvatara Upanishad describe the "Atman, Soul, Self" as the personal God, as the one and only Lord, that resides within, the origin of all gods, calling it the Isha or Rudra. This innermost Self, is stated as under the sway of Māyā or empirical Prakrti. This theme of Eka Deva (one God) – eternal, all prevading and forging the world with his heat – in Svetasvatara Upanishad, is common in more ancient Sanskrit texts such as Rig Veda's hymns 10.72.2 and 10.81.3, Taittiriya Samhita 184.108.40.206, Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.1.3, White Yajur Veda's Vajasaneyi Samhita 17.19, Atharva Veda 13.2.26 and others.
Similarly, the verses 3.5 and 3.6 are also found in the more ancient Vajasaneyi Samhita as verses 16.2 and 16.3, in Taittiriya Samhita 220.127.116.11, as well as in chapter 8.5 of the chronologically much later Nilarudra Upanishad. These verses symbolically ask Rudra to be graceful and "not hurt any man or any beast".
The verses 3.7 through 3.21 of the Upanishad describes Brahman as the highest, the subtlest and the greatest, concealed in all beings, one that encompasses all of the universe, formless, without sorrow, changeless, all prevading, kind (Shiva), one who applies the power of knowledge, the Purusha, one with the whole world as it is, one with the whole world as it has been, one with the whole world as it will be. It is the Atman, the Self of all.
The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, in verses 4.1 through 4.8 states that everything is Brahman, in everything is Deva (God), it is the individual soul and the highest soul. As in other chapters of the Upanishad, several of these verses are also found in more ancient texts; for example, verse 4.3 of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad is identical to hymn 10.8.27 of Atharva Veda. The verses are notable for their grammar, where through numerous poetic phrases, the gender of the highest soul (God), is meticulously and metrically stated as neuter gender, as against the occasional masculine gender that is found in some ancient texts.
The Upanishad states that Brahman is in all Vedic deities, in all women, in all men, in all boys, in all girls, in every old man tottering on a stick, in every bee and bird, in all seasons and all seas. Out of the highest Soul, comes the hymns, the Vedic teachings, the past and the future, asserts the Shvetashvatara Upanishad.
The fourth chapter of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad contains the famous metaphorical verse 4.5, that was oft-cited and debated by the scholars of dualistic Samkhya, monist Vedanta and theistic Vedanta schools of Hinduism in ancient and medieval era, for example in Vedanta Sutra's section 1.4.8. The metaphor-filled verse is as follows,
There is one unborn being (feminine), red, white and black,
but producing many creatures like herself,
There is one unborn being (masculine) who loves her and stays with her,
there is another unborn being (masculine) who leaves her after loving her.
The metaphor of three colors has been interpreted as the three Gunas, with red symbolizing harmonious purity (Sattva), white as confused passion (Rajas), and black as destructive darkness (Tamas). An alternate interpretation of the three colors is based on an equivalent phrase in chapter 6.2 of Chandogya Upanishad, where the three colors are interpreted to be "fire, water and food". The unborn being with feminine gender is symbolically the Prakrti (nature, matter), while the two masculine beings are Cosmic Self and the Individual Self, the former experiencing delight and staying with Prakrti always, the latter leaves after experiencing the delight of Prakrti. All three are stated in the verse to be "unborn", implying that all three are eternal. The Samkhya school of Hinduism cites this verse for Vedic support of their dualistic doctrine. The Vedanta school, in contrast, cites the same verse but points to the context of the chapter which has already declared that everything, including the feminine (Prakrti) and masculine (Purusha), the individual soul and the cosmic soul, is nothing but Oneness and of a single Brahman.
The verses 4.9 and 4.10 of Shvetashvatara Upanishad state the Māyā doctrine found in many schools of Hinduism. The text asserts that the Prakrti (empirical nature) is Māyā, that the individual soul is caught up by this Māyā (magic, art, creative power), and that the cosmic soul is the Māyin (magician). These verses are notable because these verses are one of the oldest known explicit statement of the Māyā doctrine. The verse 4.10 is also significant because it uses the term Maheswaram (Sanskrit: महेश्वरम्), literally the highest Lord (later epithet for Shiva), for the one who is "Māyā-maker". There is scholarly disagreement on what the term Māyā means in Upanishads, particularly verse 4.10 of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad; Dominic Goodall, for example, states that the term generally meant "supernatural power", not "illusion, magic", in the Upanishads, and Māyā contextually means "primal matter" in verse 4.10 of Shvetashvatara.
The Upanishad includes a motley addition of verses 4.11 through 4.22, wherein it repeats – with slight modifications – a flood of ancient Vedic Samhita benedictions and older Upanishadic hymns. In these verses, the Brahman, discussed so far in earlier chapters of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, is celebrated as Isha, Ishana (personal god) and Rudra. The verses of the fourth chapter use an adjective repeatedly, namely Shiva (literally, kind, benign, blessed) as a designation for Rudra (a fierce, destructive, slaying Vedic deity). This kind, benevolent manifestation of innately powerful Rudra in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad later evolved into Shiva, a central God in later scriptures of Hinduism. The abridged verses are,
(...) । विश्वस्यैकं परिवेष्टितारं ज्ञात्वा शिवं शान्तिमत्यन्तमेति ॥ १४ ॥
घृतात्परं मण्डमिवातिसूक्ष्मं ज्ञात्वा शिवं सर्वभूतेषु गूढम् । (...) ॥ १६ ॥
(...), the one embracer of the universe, by knowing Him as "kind, benign" (śivam), one attains peace forever. (14)
By knowing as "kind, benign" (śivam) Him, who is hidden in all things, like subtle cream inside fine butter, (...)
The benedictions in the fourth chapter of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad praise Rudra, as He who is the origin of gods and one from which gods arise, the one who is lord of all, the one on whom the world is founded, the one who envelops all of universe within Him, the one who creates everything, the one who is inside every living creature, the one with primal knowledge, the one who is eternal and immortal. These benedictions are found, in essentially similar form but different context in more ancient Vedic texts, for example in Rig Veda 1.114.8, 3.62.10 and 10.121.3, Vajasaneyi Samhita 16.16 and 32.2, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.32, and elsewhere.
The verses of the fourth Adhyaya of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, with explicit references to Rudra and Shiva, and the text in general, became important to Shaiva Siddhanta, and to Shaivism. Scholars state that while Rudra is an oft mentioned Vedic deity, the adjective Shiva for him in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad was new, and simply meant "kind, graceful, blessed, blissful". The word "Shiva" is mentioned as an adjective seven times in the Upanishad, in verses 3.5, 4.14, 4.16, 4.18, 5.14, 6.11, 6.18. This is among the earliest mentions of Shiva in ancient Sanskrit literature, and possibly evidence that the name was crystallizing as the proper name of the highest God in Vedic times. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad has served the same historic role for Shaivism, as the Bhagavad Gita has served for Vaishnavism.
The fifth chapter of the Upanishad shifts back to using the word Brahman, instead of Rudra, and presents a threefold Brahman-Atman, all part of infinite highest Brahman, and contained in Oneness. The first theme is of "default state of ignorance" in human beings, the second is "realized state of knowledge", and third is of elevated eternal omnipresent Brahman that embraces both. The text states that ignorance is perishable and temporary, while knowledge is immortal and permanent. Knowledge is deliverance, knowledge liberates, asserts the Upanishad.
The fifth chapter is notable for the mention of word Kapila in verse 5.2. The interpretation of this verse has long been disputed as either referring to sage Kapila – the founder of atheistic/non-theistic Samkhya school of Hinduism, or simply referring to the color "red".
The fifth chapter is also notable for verse 5.10, regarding the genderlessness of the Brahman-Atman (Soul, Self), that is present in every being. This view expressed in Shvetashvatara Upanishad is also found in Aitareya and Taittiriya Āraṇyakas.
नैव स्त्री न पुमानेष न चैवायं नपुंसकः ।
यद्यच्छरीरमादत्ते तेने तेने स युज्यते ॥ १० ॥
It is not woman, it is not man, nor is it neuter;
whatever body it takes, with that it is joined.
The sixth chapter of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad opens by acknowledging the existence of two competing theories: of Nature as the primal cause, and Time as the primal cause. Verse 6.1 declares these two theories as "completely wrong". It is Deva (God, Brahman) that is the primal cause, asserts the text, and then proceeds to describe what God is and what is God's nature. He is the knower, the creator of time, the quality of everything, the Sarva-vidyah (सर्वविद्यः, all knowledge), states Shvetashvatara Upanishad. This God, asserts the text, is one, and is in each human being and in all living creatures. This God is the soul (Atman) veiled inside man, the inmost self inside all living beings, and that the primal cause is within oneself. The Upanishad, states it as follows (abridged),
Let us know that highest great lord of lords, the highest deity of deities, the master of masters,
his high power is revealed as manifold, as inherent, acting as force and knowledge.
There is no master of his in the world, no ruler of his, not even a sign of him,
He is the cause, the lord of the lords of the organs, and there is of him neither parent nor lord.
He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the self within all beings,
watching over all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver, the only one, free from qualities.
The wise who perceive Him dwelling within their self, to them belongs eternal happiness and serenity, not to others,
He who knows this God as primal cause, through Sāṁkhya (reason, reflection) and Yoga (self-discipline), achieves Mukti (freedom, moksha).
The Upanishad, in verses 6.14 through 6.20 discusses Deva (God), interchangeably with Brahman-Atman, and its importance in achieving moksha (liberation, freedom). The text asserts that Deva is the light of everything, and He is the "one swan" of the universe. It is He who is self-made, the supreme spirit, the quality in everything, the consciousness of conscious, the master of primeval matter and of the spirit (individual soul), the cause of transmigration of the soul, and it is his knowledge that leads to deliverance and release from all sorrow, misery, bondage and fear. It is impossible to end sorrow, confusion and consequences of evil, without knowing this joyful, blissful Deva, asserts the sixth chapter of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. It is to this Deva (divine soul) that, states the text, "I go, being desirous of liberation, for refuge and shelter".
Ancient and medieval Indian scholars left many Bhasya (review, commentary) on Shvetashvatara Upanishad. These include those attributed to Adi Shankara, Vijnanatma, Shankarananda and Narayana Tirtha. However, given the nature of open scholarship in Indian traditions, it is unclear if some of these commentaries are exclusive works of a single author, or are they partially or completely the work of another later scholar. For example, the style, the inconsistencies, the citation method, the colophons in the commentary on Shvetashvatara Upanishad as it survives in modern form, and attributed to Shankara, makes it doubtful that it was written in the surviving form by Shankara. Rather, most scholars consider it likely that the Shvetashvatara commentary attributed to Shankara was remodeled and interpolated by one or more later authors.
Chakravarti calls the Shvetashvatara Upanishad as the earliest textual exposition of a systematic philosophy of Shaivism. Flood states that it elevated Rudra to the status of Īśa ("Lord"), a god with cosmological functions such as those later attributed to Shiva.
The last of three epilogue verses of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 6.23, uses the word Bhakti as follows,
यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ ।
तस्यैते कथिता ह्यर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः ॥ २३ ॥
He who has highest Bhakti (love, devotion) of Deva (God),
just like his Deva, so for his Guru (teacher),
To him who is high-minded,
these teachings will be illuminating.
This verse is notable for the use of the word Bhakti, and has been widely cited as among the earliest mentions of "the love of God". Scholars have debated whether this phrase is authentic or later insertion into the Upanishad, and whether the terms "Bhakti" and "God" meant the same in this ancient text as they do in the modern era Bhakti traditions found in India. Max Muller states that the word Bhakti appears only in one last verse of the epilogue, could have been a later addition and may not be theistic as the word was later used in much later Sandilya Sutras. Grierson as well as Carus note that the first epilogue verse 6.21 is also notable for its use of the word Deva Prasada (देवप्रसाद, grace or gift of God), but add that Deva in the epilogue of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad refers to "pantheistic Brahman" and the closing credit to sage Shvetashvatara in verse 6.21 can mean "gift or grace of his Soul".
Scholars have long debated whether the Shvetashvatara Upanishad follows or opposed the theories of the Samkhya school of Hinduism. The Upanishad, as it develops it arguments, deploys many of counting and enumeration techniques found in Samkhya school, but such enumeration is not exclusive to Samkhya school and is also found in the Samhitas of the Vedas.
No doubt there are expressions in this [Shvetashvatara] Upanishad which remind us of technical terms used at a later time in the Samkhya system of philosophy, but of Samkhya doctrines, which I had myself formerly suspected in this Upanishad, I can on closer study find very little.— Max Muller
Paul Deussen makes a similar conclusion as Max Muller, and states in his review of verse 1.3 of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad,
The individual soul does not comprise Purusha and Prakrti (shakti) which is independent of him together with its gunas (sattvam, rajas, tamas) but it is the God's own power (deva-atman-shakti) which, veiled under its own qualities (svagunah), appears as the soul. – The opposition to the Samkhya doctrines cannot be expressed in more pungent words.— Paul Deussen
EH Johnston presents another perspective on Samkhya theories and dualistic themes in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad.
Scholars have also expressed varying views whether Shvetashvatara Upanishad is a monotheistic, pantheistic or monistic text. Doris Srinivasan states that the Upanishad is a treatise on theism, but it creatively embeds a variety of divine images, an inclusive language that allows "three Vedic definitions for personal deity". The Upanishad includes verses wherein God can be identified with the Supreme (Brahman-Atman, Self, Soul) in Vedanta monistic theosophy, verses that support dualistic view of Samkhya doctrines, as well as the synthetic novelty of triple Brahman where a triune exists as the divine soul (Deva, theistic God), individual soul (self) and nature (Prakrti, matter). Hiriyanna interprets the text to be introducing "personal theism" in the form of Shiva, with a shift to monotheism but in henotheistic context where the individual is encouraged to discover his own definition and sense of God. Robert Hume interprets the Shvetashvatara Upanishad to be discussing a pantheistic God.
Amalananda was a South Indian Sanskrit scholar who lived during the reign of Mahadeva, the Yadava ruler of Devagiri who ruled from 1260 to 1271. Not much is known about his life and background. Anubhavānanda is believed to have been his preceptor.
Amalānanda wrote Vedānta Kalpatarū sometime before 1297. This book is a commentary on Bhāmatī of Vācaspati Miśra which text in its own turn is a commentary on Sankara’s commentary on the Brahma Sutras of Badarayana. His other works are – Śastra-darpana which is explanations of the Brahma Sutras, and Pancapādikā-darpana which is a commentary on Padmapādācārya’s Pancapādika. The language of these works is chaste and the thought-content is serious.
Vācaspati Miśra, the author of Bhāmatī lived around 841. Appayya Dikshita (1520-1593), son of Rangarājādhvarindra of Kānci, and a prolific writer, wrote his Kalpataruparimala, a commentary on Amalānanda’s Vedanta-Kalpataru.Sankara explains Yadrecchāvadā, referred to by the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, as the doctrine of accidental effects which are due to chance; Amalānanda explains it as the doctrine that effects are produced at any time depending on definite causes. The same Upanishad mentions nature (svabhava) as the cause of the world. Sankara explains it as the natural powers inherent in different things. Amalānanda explains nature as that which exists so long as things exists e.g. breathing as the nature of the living body exists so long as the body exists.Avyakta
Avyakta, meaning "not manifest", "devoid of form" etc., is the word ordinarily used to denote Prakrti on account of subtleness of its nature and is also used to denote Brahman, which is the subtlest of all and who by virtue of that subtlety is the ultimate support (asraya) of Prakrti. Avyakta as a category along with Mahat (Cosmic Intelligence) and Purusa plays an important role in the later Samkhya philosophy even though the Bhagavad Gita III.42 retaining the psychological categories altogether drops out the Mahat and the Avyakta (Unmanifest), the two objective categories.Bhakti
Bhakti (Sanskrit: भक्ति) literally means "attachment, participation, fondness for, homage, faith, love, devotion, worship, purity". In Hinduism, it refers to devotion to, and love for, a personal god or a representational god by a devotee. In ancient texts such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, the term simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor, while in the Bhagavad Gita, it connotes one of the possible paths of spirituality and towards moksha, as in bhakti marga.Bhakti in Indian religions is "emotional devotionalism", particularly to a personal god or to spiritual ideas. The term also refers to a movement, pioneered by Alvars and Nayanars, that developed around the gods Vishnu (Vaishnavism), Brahma (Brahmanism), Shiva (Shaivism) and Devi (Shaktism) in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. It grew rapidly in India after the 12th century in the various Hindu traditions, possibly in response to the arrival of Islam in India.Bhakti ideas have inspired many popular texts and saint-poets in India. The Bhagavata Purana, for example, is a Krishna-related text associated with the Bhakti movement in Hinduism. Bhakti is also found in other religions practiced in India, and it has influenced interactions between Christianity and Hinduism in the modern era. Nirguni bhakti (devotion to the divine without attributes) is found in Sikhism, as well as Hinduism. Outside India, emotional devotion is found in some Southeast Asian and East Asian Buddhist traditions, and it is sometimes referred to as Bhatti.Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic devotional trend that emerged in medieval Hinduism and later revolutionised in Sikhism. It originated in eighth-century south India (now Tamil Nadu and Kerala), and spread northwards. It swept over east and north India from the 15th century onwards, reaching its zenith between the 15th and 17th century CE.The Bhakti movement regionally developed around different gods and goddesses, and some sub-sects were Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva), Shaktism (Shakti goddesses), and Smartism. Bhakti movement preached using the
local languages so that the message reached the masses.The movement was inspired by many poet-saints, who championed a wide range of philosophical positions ranging from theistic dualism of Dvaita to absolute monism of Advaita Vedanta.The movement has traditionally been considered as an influential social reformation in Hinduism, and provided an individual-focused alternative path to spirituality regardless of one's caste of birth or gender. Postmodern scholars question this traditional view and whether the Bhakti movement ever was a reform or rebellion of any kind. They suggest Bhakti movement was a revival, reworking and recontextualisation of ancient Vedic traditions.Scriptures of the Bhakti movement include the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana and Padma Purana.Bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga, also called Bhakti marga (literally the path of Bhakti), is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on loving devotion towards a personal god. It is one of the paths in the spiritual practices of Hindus, others being Jnana yoga and Karma yoga. The tradition has ancient roots. Bhakti is mentioned in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad where it simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor. Bhakti yoga as one of three spiritual paths for salvation is discussed in depth by the Bhagavad Gita.The personal god varies with the devotee. It may include a god or goddess such as Ganesha, Krishna, Radha, Rama, Sita, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Shiva, Parvati, Durga among others.
The Bhakti marga involving these deities grew with the Bhakti Movement, starting about the mid-1st millennium CE, from Tamil Nadu in South India. The movement was led by the Saiva Nayanars and the Vaisnava Alvars. Their ideas and practices inspired bhakti poetry and devotion throughout India over the 12th-18th century CE. Bhakti marga is a part of the religious practice in Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism.Harihar Dham
Harihar Dham temple, commonly known as Harihar Dham located in Giridih, Jharkhand has the distinction of having the biggest Shivalinga in the world.Ishvaratva
Ishvaratva in Sanskrit language is an abstract noun meaning 'godhood', it also means divinity.Purushottama (the Lord) conceals and also manifests the qualities at His will, He conceals his qualities like Ananda ('bliss') and Ishvaratva ('Lordship') in the Jivas ('Individual Souls') and also conceals His quality of Consciousness in this material world.The Chidabhasa which constitutes Ishvaratva is almost an exact likeness of true consciousness on account of its being associated with Prakrti in equilibrium and consequently unperturbed by the gunas in action. He is Saguna Brahman whilst true consciousness is Nirguna Brahman.Ishvaratva is only from the standpoint of Jivatva. Both, Ishvaratva and Jivatva, are the apparent modifications of the Atman or Brahman. Though of mutually opposed qualities they are denoted by word tvam, the Atman as qualified by the mental states such as 'waking', 'dream' and 'dreamless sleep. The Mahavakya, Tat Tvam Asi affirms the identity between Brahman, Jiva and Ishvara (Vivekachudamani 243-244).
Self-luminosity means being directly cognizable without dependence on anything else; and being different from that is hetu ('proximal or concomitant cause'). The assumed difference between Brahman that is cognized and the Brahman that cognizes is imaginary (kalpanika) because in reality there is no difference. The assumed difference between Brahman on the one hand and Jiva and Ishvara on the other is not based on luminosity but on other dharmas (jivatva and ishvaratva) (Advaita-siddhi 22-23).Ishvaratva is due to the Upadhi of Avidya. By the Upadhis that are avidyatmaka, attatvika and kalpanika by creating divisions in the divisionless and partless Brahman when in reality no divisions whatsoever exist. Sankara in his Bhashya on Brahma Sutra 2.1.14 explains that name and form constitute the seeds of the entire expanse of phenomenal existence, and which are conjured up by nescience. The omniscient God i.e. Brahman, who diversifies the seed (Shvetashvatara Upanishad VI.12), who manifests names and forms (Chandogya Upanishad VI.iii.2) and creates all forms, gives them names (and entering into them) (Taittirya Aranyaka III.xii.7), is different from them.The sage of the Mandukya Upanishad partitioning the symbol Aum in three different morae adds a fourth mora-less part corresponding to which there are three different states of consciousness, corresponding to which, again, are different kinds of soul and posits "the four states of consciousness – wakefulness, the dream, sleep and a fourth name-less state of consciousness (turiya) while teaching that there is an aspect of the Godhead corresponding to these states of consciousness, the last alone being ultimately real. The Absolute of philosophy surpasses even such a theological conception as that of God." It is only to those who regard the Universal Being as immanent in their own Selves, to them belongs eternal happiness, to no one else (Shvetashvatara Upanishad VI.12).Kaivalya Upanishad
The Kaivalya Upanishad (Sanskrit: कैवल्य उपनिषत्) is an ancient Sanskrit text and one of the minor Upanishads of Hinduism. It is classified as a Shaiva Upanishad, and survives into the modern times in two versions, one attached to the Krishna Yajurveda and other attached to the Atharvaveda. It is, as an Upanishad, a part of the corpus of Vedanta literature collection that present the philosophical concepts of Hinduism.
The Upanishad extols Shiva, aloneness and renunciation, describes the inner state of man in his personal spiritual journey detached from the world. The text is notable for presenting Shaivism in Vedanta, discussing Atman (Soul, Self) and its relation to Brahman, and Self-knowledge as the path to kaivalya (liberation).
The text, states Paul Deussen – a German Indologist and professor of Philosophy, is particularly beautiful in the way it describes the self-realized man who "feels himself only as the one divine essence that lives in all", who feels identity of his and everyone's consciousness with God (Shiva, highest Atman), who has found this highest Atman within, in the depths of his heart.Kalpana (imagination)
Kalpanā (Sanskrit: कल्पना) is derived from the root - kalpanama (कल्पनम्) + ना, and means – 'fixing', 'settlement', 'making', 'performing', 'doing', 'forming', 'arranging', 'decorating', 'ornamenting', 'forgery', 'a contrivance', 'device'. and also means – 'assuming anything to be real', 'fictional'.Suresvaracharya in his Taittirīyavārttika (commentary on Śankāra's work on the Taittirīya Upanişad) (II.297) has used the term kalpanā to mean – 'inferior conception'. Vishnu Purana (VI.vii.90) and Naradiya Purana (lxvii.70) define kalpanā as a two-termed relation which is a distinction between the contemplation and the object-to-be-contemplated.Badarayana has used the word kalpanā only once in his composition, Brahma Sutras, but while translating Sri Govinda Bhāshya of Baladeva Vidyabhushana, a commentary on Vedānta sutras, this word has been translated by Srisa Chandra Vasu to mean – 'the creative power of thought, formation, creation (and not imagination) ', which meaning is in the context of explaining Pradhana purported to have been referred to by the word - ajā (birthless entity) occurring in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (IV.5). Badarayana states:-
कल्पनोपदेशाच च, मध्वादिवदविरोधः |"Because it is taught that Pradhana is the creation of the Lord, so there is no contradiction in calling her both created and uncreated, as in the case of honey (a reference to Madhu-vidya)."Roer in his translation of the commentary of Shankara on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad has translated the word kalpanā as 'fictitious view', and upadhi , as 'fictitious attribute'. Shankara in his Brahma Sutra Bhāsya has interpreted this sutra as follows:-
"And since this is an instruction in the form of an imagery, just as in the case of honey etc., therefore there is no incongruity." (Translated by Swami Gambhirananda)explaining that the word ajā neither indicates the form of a she-goat nor has it been used in the derivative sense of that which is unborn; what is said by the Shvetashvatara Upanishad is as an instruction about the material source of all things – moving and immobile, using a form of imagery (kalpanā) - the analogy to a she-goat.Dignāga in his Pramāna-samuccya, tells us that amongst pratyaksha ('perception') that has the particular for the object and anumāna ('inference') that has only the universal cognisance, the former ('perception') is free from kalpanā or 'conceptual construction'. Katha Upanishad tells us that virtual objects exist only during kalpanā-kāla i.e. during the period of imagination, owing to avidyā . And, according to Patanjali, kalpanā ('fancy') is more subjective than illusion and hallucination.Man is able to think because he has a perceiving and arranging manas ('mind') which self-illuminated gives him chetnā ('consciousness') and the faculties of pratyaksha ('perception'), chintā ('thought'), kalpanā ('imagination'), prayatna ('volition') and chaitanya ('higher sentience and intelligence'). The Vedic thinkers held the view that the universe is merely an idea, a kalpanā ('phantasm') or projection of the mind of the creator; even the experience of birth and death by the Jiva is a kalpanā ('hallucination') created by ignorance. Mental kalpanā is false superimposition on account of ignorance. However, the siddha , exclusively intent on attaining yoga with own self, and self-reliant, gains powers arising spontaneously as devoid of any ruse or ploy (kalpanā).List of Shiva shrines in Kanyakumari district
The Sivalayams are 12 Saivite shrines in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India. On the day of Sivarathri, the devotees go on a marathon from Thirumalai, the first Sivalayam, to the last, Thirunattalam.
The Sivalayam Temples are
Mukhya Upanishads, also known as Principal Upanishads, are the most ancient and widely studied Upanishads of Hinduism. Composed between 800 BCE to the start of common era, these texts are connected to the Vedic tradition. While some early colonial era Indology listed 10 Upanishads as Mukhya Upanishads, most scholars now consider the Principal Upanishads to be thirteen.
Īśā (IsUp), Yajurveda
Kena (KeUp), Samaveda
Kaṭha (KaUp), Yajurveda
Praṣna (PrUp), Atharvaveda
Muṇḍaka (MuUp), Atharvaveda
Māṇḍūkya (MaUp), Atharvaveda
Taittirīya (TaiUp), Yajurveda
Aitareya, (AiUp), Rigveda
Chāndogya (ChhUp), Samaveda
Bṛhadāraṇyaka (BṛUp), Yajurveda
Maitri UpanishadThe first ten of the above Principal Upanishads were commented upon by the 8th century scholar, Adi Shankara. The adjective mukhya means "principal", "chief", or "primary". The Mukhya Upanishads are accepted as śruti by all Hindus, or the most important scriptures of Hinduism.The Principal Upanishads (1953) by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan gives the text and English translation of a total of eighteen Upanishads, including the 13 listed by Hume (1921), plus Subāla, Jābāla, Paiṅgala, Kaivalya, Vajrasūcikā (Muktika nos. 30, 13, 59, 12 and 36).Om
Om (listen , IAST: Oṃ, Devanagari: ॐ, Kannada: ಓಂ, Tamil: ௐ, Malayalam: ഓം, Telugu: ఓం), also written as Aum, is the most sacred syllable symbol and mantra of Brahman, the Almighty God in Hinduism.
Brahman is Supreme Self, Ultimate Reality, Creator of all Existence. The syllable is often chanted either independently or before a mantra; it signifies the essence of the ultimate reality, consciousness or Atma. The Om sound is the primordial sound and is called the Shabda-Brahman (Brahman as sound).Om is part of the iconography found in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples, monasteries and spiritual retreats in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The symbol has a spiritual meaning in all Indian dharmas, but the meaning and connotations of Om vary between the diverse schools within and across the various traditions.
In Hinduism, Om is one of the most important spiritual sounds. It refers to Atman (soul, self within) and Brahman (ultimate reality, entirety of the universe, truth, divine, supreme spirit, cosmic principles, knowledge). The syllable is often found at the beginning and the end of chapters in the Vedas, the Upanishads, and other Hindu texts. It is a sacred spiritual incantation made before and during the recitation of spiritual texts, during puja and private prayers, in ceremonies of rites of passages (sanskara) such as weddings, and sometimes during meditative and spiritual activities such as Yoga. It is also used in other Dharmic religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
The syllable Om is also referred to as onkara (ओङ्कार, oṅkāra), omkara (ओंकार, oṃkāra) and pranava (प्रणव, praṇava).Pradhana
Pradhāna (Sanskrit: प्रधान) is an adjective meaning – most important, prime, chief or major. The Shatapatha Brahmana (शतपथ ब्राह्मण) gives its meaning as – 'the chief cause of the material nature' (S.B.7.15.27) or 'the creative principle of nature' (S.B.10.85.3). The Samkhya School of Indian philosophy employs the word, Pradhana, to mean the creative principle of nature, as the original root of matter, the Prime Matter but which according to Badarayana’s logic is the unintelligent principle which cannot be the one consisting of bliss.Pāśa
Pāśa (Sanskrit: पाश, romanized: pāśa, lit. "bondage", "fetter") is one of the three main components considered in Shaivism. It is defined as whole of the existence, manifest and unmanifest. According to Shaiva Siddhanta, Pati (the supreme being), Pashu (atmans) and Pasha are eternal, self-consistent, neither distinguishable nor indivisible triad in the nature.Sakshi (Witness)
Sakshi or Sākṣī or Shakshi(Sanskrit: साक्षी or
शाक्षी) means – 'observer', 'eyewitness' or the 'Supreme Being' the one that lends its shine - " Chitchhaya"- to the "ego" part of the subtle body - which consists of the everchanging Mind, the decision making Intellect, the Memory & the Illusory Ego ! In Hindu philosophy, the word, Sākṣī or 'witness' refers to the 'Pure Awareness' that witnesses the world but does not get affected or involved. Sakshi is beyond time, space and the triad of experiencer, experiencing and experienced; sakshi witnesses all thoughts, words and deeds without interfering with them or being affected by them, other than sakshi there is nothing else in the entire universe.With regard to the word, साक्षी (sākṣī), used in the following verse from Shvetashvatara Upanishad,
एको देवः सर्वभूतेषु गूढः सर्वव्यापी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा |
कर्माध्यक्षः सर्वभूताधिवासः साक्षी चेता केवलो निर्गुणश्च ||"The same Deity remains hidden in all beings, and is all-pervasive and the indwelling Self of all beings. He is the supervisor of actions, lives in all beings, (He is) the Witness, the bestower of intelligence, the Absolute and devoid of the (three) gunas." (Shvetashvatara Upanishad Sl. VI.11)Panini states that the same indicates a direct seer or eyewitness (Panini Sutras V.ii.91), Sakshi means Ishvara, the चेता (cetā), the sole Self-consciousness, who is the witness of all, who gives consciousness to every human being, thereby making each rational and discriminatory.Vedanta speaks of mind (chitta) or antahkarana ('internal instrument'), and matter as the subtle and gross forms of one and the same reality; being the subtle aspect of matter, mind is not a tangible reality. The field of mind (Chittakasha) involves the duality of the seer and the seen, the observer (drg) and the observed (drshya), which duality is overcome in the field of pure Consciousness. Drg-drshya-Viveka tells us:-
"When form is the object of observation or drshyam, then the eye is the observer or drk; when the eye is the object of observation, then the mind is the observer; when the pulsations of the mind are the objects of observation, then Sakshi or the Witnessing-Self is the real observer; and it is always the observer, and, being self-luminous, can never be the object of observation. When the notion and the attachment that one is the physical body is dissolved, and the Supreme Self is realized, wherever one goes, there one experiences Samadhi. "Sakshi, the Atman, the unchangeable eternal Reality, is the Pure Consciousness and knowledge, in which regard Sankara explains that knowledge does not destroy or create, it only illumines, that the senses (indriyas) are not the mind, the mind uses them as an implement.The Varaha Upanishad (IV) refers to the Bhumika ('stage of development of wisdom') which is of the form of pranava (Aum or Om) as formed of or divided into – akāra, ukāra, makāra and ardhmātra, which is on account of the difference of sthula ('gross'), sukshama ('subtle'), bija ('seed' or 'causal') and sakshi ('witness') whose avasthas ('states') are – 'waking', 'dreaming', 'dream-less sleep' and 'turiya'. Sakshi which is 'turiya' is the essence.The faculty which perceives the individual personality is Sakshi or 'Witness' or the higher 'Ego'. Mind (manas), Ego (ahankara) and Sakshi, all perform different functions but that difference of functions does not mean difference in nature or essence. Indian Philosophy discovered the concept of Sakshi, the ultimate Observer, or Witness behind the sense of individuality, or the ego; the Sakshi is the timeless Being which witnesses all this ceaseless flow and change in the world of thought and things.Samanya Upanishads
Samanya Upanishads or Samanya Vedanta Upanishads are minor Upanishads of Hinduism that are of a generic nature. They were composed later and are classified separate from the thirteen major Principal Upanishads considered to be more ancient and connected to the Vedic tradition.The Samanya Upanishad as group contrast with other minor Upanishads grouped as the Yoga Upanishads which are related to Yoga, the Sannyasa Upanishads which are related to Hindu renunciation and monastic practice, the Shaiva Upanishads which are related to Shaivism, the Vaishnava Upanishads which are related to Vaishnavism, and the Shakta Upanishads which are related to Shaktism.The Samanya Vedanta Upanishads are variously classified, ranging from a list of 21 to 24. The variation in count is based on whether some of the older Principal Upanishads are included as Samanya. Some include three ancient Upanishads as Samanya Upanishads bringing the list to 24: 14. Shvetashvatara Upanishad; 24. Maitrayaniya Upanishad; and 25. Kaushitaki Upanishad. If these three are included as Samanya Upanishads, the list of Principal Upanishads shrinks to ten. Many scholars, however, consider the Principal Upanishads to be thirteen.Shaiva Upanishads
The Shaiva Upanishads are minor Upanishads of Hinduism, specific to Shiva theology (Shaivism). There are 14 Shaiva Upanishads in the Muktika anthology of 108 Upanishads. They, along with other minor Upanishads, are generally classified separate from the thirteen ancient Principal Upanishads rooted in the Vedic tradition.The Shaiva Upanishads also contrast from other groups of minor Upanishads, such as the Samanya Upanishads which are of a generic nature, the Sannyasa Upanishads which focus on the Hindu renunciation and monastic practice, the Yoga Upanishads related to Yoga, the Vaishnava Upanishads which highlight aspects of Vishnu, and the Shakta Upanishads which highlight Shaktism.The Shaiva Upanishads extol Shiva as the metaphysical Brahman and the Atman (soul, self). A few texts such as Atharvashiras Upanishad include alternate terms such as Rudra, and assert all gods are Rudra, everyone and everything is Rudra, and Rudra is the principle found in all things, their highest goal, the innermost essence of all reality that is visible or invisible. Some Shaiva Upanishads include sections with symbolism about costumes, rites and objects of worship in Shaivism.Siddha Siddhanta
Siddha Siddhanta is one of the six main Shaivite philosophical traditions. It is also known as Gorakshanatha Saivism after its founding Guru Gorakhnath.Yajurveda
The Yajurveda (Sanskrit: यजुर्वेद, yajurveda, from yaj meaning "worship", and veda meaning "knowledge") is the Veda primarily of prose mantras for worship rituals. An ancient Vedic Sanskrit text, it is a compilation of ritual offering formulas that were said by a priest while an individual performed ritual actions such as those before the yajna fire. Yajurveda is one of the four Vedas, and one of the scriptures of Hinduism. The exact century of Yajurveda's composition is unknown, and estimated by scholars to be around 1200 to 1000 BCE, contemporaneous with Samaveda and Atharvaveda.The Yajurveda is broadly grouped into two – the "black" or "dark" (Krishna) Yajurveda and the "white" or "bright" (Shukla) Yajurveda. The term "black" implies "the un-arranged, unclear, motley collection" of verses in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" which implies the "well arranged, clear" Yajurveda. The black Yajurveda has survived in four recensions, while two recensions of white Yajurveda have survived into the modern times.The earliest and most ancient layer of Yajurveda samhita includes about 1,875 verses, that are distinct yet borrow and build upon the foundation of verses in Rigveda. The middle layer includes the Satapatha Brahmana, one of the largest Brahmana texts in the Vedic collection. The youngest layer of Yajurveda text includes the largest collection of primary Upanishads, influential to various schools of Hindu philosophy. These include the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the Isha Upanishad, the Taittiriya Upanishad, the Katha Upanishad, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad and the Maitri Upanishad.
|Pancha Bhoota Stalam|
The 108 Upanishads