Prasna-Upanishad: First Question

Updated May 14, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

First Question

Adoration to the Highest Self! Harih, Om!

1. Sukesas Bharadvâga, and Saivya Satyakama, and Sauryayanin Gargya, and Kausalya Asvalayana, and Bhargava Vaidarbhi, and Kabandhin Katyayana, these were devoted to Brahman, firm in Brahman, seeking for the Highest Brahman. They thought that the venerable Pippalada could tell them all that, and they therefore took fuel in their hands (like pupils), and approached him.

2. That Rishi said to them: “Stay here a year longer, with penance, abstinence, and faith; then you may ask questions according to your pleasure, and if we know them, we shall tell you all.

3. Then Kabandhin Katyayana approached him and asked: “Sir, from whence may these creatures be born?

4. He replied: “Pragâpati (the lord of creatures) was desirous of creatures (pragah). He performed penance, and having performed penance, he produces a pair, matter (rayi) and spirit (prâna), thinking that they together should produce creatures for him in many ways.

5. “The sun is spirit, matter is the moon. All this, what has body and what has no body, is matter, and therefore body indeed is matter.

6. “Now Aditya, the sun, when he rises, goes toward the East, and thus receives the Eastern spirits into his rays. And when he illuminates the South, the West, the North, the Zenith, the Nadir, the intermediate quarters, and everything, he thus receives all spirits into his rays.

7. “Thus he rises, as Vaisvanara, (belonging to all men,) assuming all forms, as spirit, as fire. This has been said in the following verse:

8. “(They knew) him who assumes all forms, the golden, who knows all things, who ascends highest, alone in his splendour, and warms us; the thousandrayed, who abides in a hundred places, the spirit of all creatures, the Sun, rises.

9. “The year indeed is Pragâpati, and there are two paths thereof, the Southern and the Northern. Now those who here believe in sacrifices and pious gifts as work done, gain the moon only as their (future) world, and return again. Therefore the Rishis who desire offspring, go to the South, and that path of the Fathers is matter (rayi).

10. “But those who have sought the Self by penance, abstinence, faith, and knowledge, gain by the Northern path Aditya, the sun. This is the home of the spirits, the immortal, free from danger, the highest. From thence they do not return, for it is the end. Thus says the Sloka:

11. “Some call him the father with five feet (the five seasons), and with twelve shapes (the twelve months), the giver of rain in the highest half of heaven; others again say that the sage is placed in the lower half, in the chariot with seven wheels and six spokes.

12. “The month is Pragâpati; its dark half is matter, its bright half spirit. Therefore some Rishis perform sacrifice in the bright half, others in the other half.

13. “Day and Night are Pragâpati; its day is spirit, its night matter. Those who unite in love by day waste their spirit,but to unite in love by night is right.

14. “Food is Pragâpati. Hence proceeds seed, and from it these creatures are born.

15. “Those therefore who observe this rule of Pragâpati (as laid down in #13), produce a pair, and to them belongs this Brahma-world here. But those in whom dwell penance, abstinence, and truth,

16. “To them belongs that pure Brahma-world, to them, namely, in whom there is nothing crooked, nothing false, and no guile.

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