Svetashvatara Upanishad

From the School of Krishna Yajur Veda is the Svetashvatara Upanishad denoting the realm of well harnessed ‘svetaashvas’ or white horses of purity signifying the physical faculties of Jnaanendriyas and Karmendriyas or discerning and action oriented body-inputs repesctively. The dominant praana, the vital energy originates from Ishwara / Rudra being the manifestation of Maheshwara Brahman, the Absolute Unknown Singulatity. An alternate form to Rudra is the Maya Shakti creating the Universe but certainly dismissing the concept of dualism. Now, the opening stanza states:

Brahmavaadino vaanti: kim kaaranam vadanti, kim kaaranam Brahma, kutah smajaataa, jeevaamaa kena, kvacha sampratishthaah, adhishthaa kena suketareshu vartaamahe brahma vido vyavastham/
( The experts of Brahma vidya open their discussion of the Upanishad with six chapters about the Cause of the Causes viz. the Eternal Truth and the reason of existence and the purpose and meaning of Life. What is the amorphous and unknown substance of Brahman like!

The concepts are discussed about Kaala Pravaaha or the Ever Flowing Time Schedule as also Karma attuned to the sway of Adhi Bhautika-Adhyaatmika- Adhi Daivika or body- based-mind based-and Nature-based or respectively of God Made happenings like floods , earth quakes etc. Parameshwara is the three-tier manfestation of bhokta-bhogya-preritaaram or the Supreme Enjoyer-the Object of Enjoyment-and the Facilitator of Enjoyment. He is also Swapratishtha- Supratishtha and Supratshthaanta or Self Genetated-Self Preserver-and Self destroyer andTrimurthi Swarupa as Antaratma and Paramaatma and Virat Swarupa or the Over Lord of Cosmos. He is ‘Ksharaakshara’ Unreal and Raeal; ‘Vyaktaavyakta’ or Conceivable yet Inconceivable. He is ‘Akarta trayam’ and jeeveshwara prakriti rupa trayam comprising two self generated entities viz. Brahman- Brahma- Prajapati-cum Maya Shakti viz the permanent-the semi permanent-the Temporary. Thus Parama Shiva Maheshwara is of the triple form of bhokta-bhojyam-peritaram or The Prakriti- the Self or Antaratma-and the Supreme; indeed there is nothing beyond to realise! The Second Chapter having detailed Invocation to Savitur Deity of Rig Veda as the agent of Surya as Devi Gayatri, provides the basic ingredients ofYoga: in the normal context, the ‘ashtanga yoga’ comprises viz. ‘Yama’ complying the five principles of Dharma viz. ‘Ahimsa’ or non-voilence, ‘Satya’ or Truthfulness, ‘Asteya’ or non stealing, ‘Brahmacharya’ or celibacy/fidelity, ‘Aparigraha’ or non-possessiveness with avarice; ‘Niyama’ comprising ‘Shoucha’ or external-internal cleanliness, ‘santosha’ or contentment, ‘tapas’ or meditation, ‘swadhyaya’ or self study, and ‘Ishwara Prardhana’ or prayers to Almighty; ‘Aasana’- or suitable posture of seating; ‘Praanaayama’- or breath control; ‘Pratyaahara’ or withdrawal of senses from body parts; ‘Dharana’ or holding of intense concentration and meditation; and finally the state of ‘Samaadhi’ or Seeking Almighy and nothing else! The details as listed in this Upanishad are of Five fold Yoga, integrating thr sensations of physical parts and pulsation of root deities of the Five Elements of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky and thus destroy physical ailments like sickness, fatigue, old age, and even a premature death, as a difinitive proof of ‘yoga agni’. Of the five fod Yoga, the first four stages detailed are ‘aarambha’ or the Opening, ‘yoga pravritti’ or the yoga psyche; ‘ghata’ or disappearance of duality or of Unity of self and the supreme; ‘parichaya’ or introductory relationship, and ‘nishpatti’ or attainment of Realisation! The Third Chapter is all about the Truth of the Truths, Delination of the Truth and desperation to attain It while facing death. Then a profile of Virat Purusha the Unsurpassing Cosmic Being:

angushtha maatrah purushontaratmaa,sadaa jnaanaam hridaye sannivishthah, as also Sahasra sheershaa Purushah sahasraaksha sahasra paat, shabhumin vishwato vritwaa ati atishthad dashaangulam// Purusha evedam sarvam yad bhutam yaccha bhavyam utaamritatavasyeshanno yad annenaanirohati//
or the Individual Self is hardly of thumb-size always residing in one’s heart the disributing hub of energy from praana, with one’s mind as charioteer of body organs and senses; the Virat Purusha or the Cosmic Person is stated to have thousand -figuratively – but countless-heads, eyes and feet thus describing His reach and magnitude, yet in the context of ‘Antaratma’ He is hardly of the size of ten inches covering Sapta Lokas, Sapta Patalas, Sapta Dwipas, Sapta Samudras, and Sapta Parvatas.

Interestingly, the Cosmic Person Maha Purusha, being the Antaratma is totally unaffected by the actions of Individual body organs and senses. The Fourth and Fifth Chapters describe the myriad forms yet the Singuklar Form of the Supreme.The Eternal Paradox of Existence of Beings is described in this connection by an analogy of two birds viz. Suparna and Sayuja both being companions cinging to the same tree, one eating sweet fruits and another refraining from eating at all, thus one enjoying the sweetness of life even becoming slaves of the evil influences with no regard of moralities of life but another exercising restraint despite temptations and calculating conseque -nces. Sankhya Siddhanta of of Duality of the Supreme is discarded. Indeed the pull of Maya and Prakriti tends to blind the Beings to such an extent that the negativity of life invarialbly results to the succumbing to the cycle of births and deaths and thr karma and dharma accounts are very rarely balanced let alone cancel off to attain Realisation of Rudra, the Pashupati natha subtly hidden in the Inner Self or Antaratma of all the Beings as Tat-twam-asi or Thou art Thou! The Sixth and Final Chapter chapter recalls the very opening of this Upanishad raising the query of Brahma vaadis as to the explanation of existence and of kaalamaana; this Sums Up again about the creation of Five Elements, Antaratma, Virat Purusha, Maya Shakti, Trigunas, Karma and Dharma and the Cycle of life. Ultimately the Upanishad teaches about Hiranyagarbha Brahma in the heirarchy and finally of Maheshvara the Brahman the Eternal Truth! Thus Maya of Trigunatmika Prakriti and of the magnificence of Ishwara, both together merge in Hiranya-garbha and Brahman Parama Shiva the Supreme!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at