Prasnopanishad which belongs to the Atharva Veda contains six sections in the
form of six questions put to a Rishi by six disciples seeking knowledge of Brahman and the Rishi’s answers to
the questions. Because it consists of
questions, the Upanishad is called Prasna (Question) Upanishad. The ultimate cause of this world , the
Supreme Being, the nature and power of the sound Om and the relation of the
Supreme to the constituents of the world; these are the subjects dealt with in
र्व्यशेम देवहितं यदायुः ॥
स्वस्ति नस्तार्क्ष्यो अरिष्टनेमिः
स्वस्ति नो बृहस्पतिर्दधातु॥
with our ears! May We, ye who are deserving of worship, see what is auspirious
with our eyes! With strong limbs and bodies, may we fulfil in worship what life
is allotted to us by the gods!
us! May Pushan, knower of all, bestow prosperity on us. May Tarkshya of unobstructed path bestow
prosperity on us. May Brihaspati bestow
prosperity on us.
सत्यकामः सौर्यायणी च गार्ग्यः
कौसल्यश्चाश्वलायनो भार्गवो वैदर्भिः कबन्धी कात्यायनः – ते हैते ब्रह्मपरा ब्रह्मनिष्ठाः परं ब्रह्मान्वेषमाणाः – एष ह वै तत् सर्वं वक्ष्यति – इति ते ह समित्पाणयो भगवन्तं
Gargya, grandson of Surya, Kausalya, son of Asvala, Bhargava of the Vidarbha country,
kabandhi, son of Katya – these, as mentioned above, devoted to Brahman and
firmly established in Brahman, were in search of the Supreme Brahman; and they
approached the venerable Pippalada with sacrificial fuel in their hands,
believing that he would tell them all that.
श्रद्धया संवत्सरं संवत्स्यथ । यथाकामं प्रश्नान् पृच्छत। यदि विज्ञास्यामः सर्वं ह
वो वक्ष्यामः – इति।
: Live (here) another year with penance, austerity and devotion.
(Then) ask questions according to your desire. If we know, then we will tell you all that.
पप्रच्छ – भगवन् कुतो ह वा इमाः प्रजाः
प्रजायन्ते – इति॥
year) Kabandhi son of Katya approached
him and asked – Venerable sir, whence are all these creatures born?
तपोऽतप्यत। स तपस्तप्त्वा स मिथुनमुत्पादयते रयिं च प्राणं चेति एतौ मे बहुधा प्रजाः
Prajapati desired to have offspring; he performed penance. Performing penance,
he produced the pair, namely, wealth and life, in the hope that these two would
procure him a variety of offspring.
चन्द्रमाः । रयिर्वा एतत्सर्वं यन्मूर्तं चामूर्तं च । तस्मान्मूर्तिरेव रयिः
wealth itself is the moon. Wealth is verily all this, what is tangible and what
is intangible. Therefore the tangible itself is wealth.
प्रविशति । तेन प्राच्यान् प्राणान् रश्मिषु सन्निधत्ते । यद्दक्षिणां यत् प्रतीचीं
यदुदीचीं यदधो यदूर्ध्वं यदन्तरा दिशो यत् सर्वं प्रकाशयति तेन सर्वान् प्राणान् रश्मिषु
enters the eastern quarter. Thus he takes in into his rays the vital breaths of
the east. Because he illumines all the
quarters of south, west, north, below, above and in-between, he takes in into
his rays all the vital breaths.
Vaisvanara fire, of cosmic form, the life.
This is said in the verse:- Of cosmic form, full of rays, knower of all,
the goal (of all), the one effulgence, the giver of heat, possessing a thousand
rays, existing in a hundred forms – thus rises this sun as the life of beings.
। तस्यायने दक्षिणं चोत्तरं च। तद्ये ह वै तदिष्टापूर्ते कृतमित्युपासते ते चान्द्रमसमेव
लोकमभिजयन्ते। त एव पुनरावर्तन्ते
। तस्मादेत ऋषयः प्रजाकामा दक्षिणं प्रतिपद्यन्ते। एष ह वै रयिर्यः पितृयाणः
the year. It has two paths, the southern
and the northern. Now those who dedicate themselves to deeds like sacrifices
and public benefactions win only the world of the moon. They certainly return
again. Therefore the Rishis desiring
offspring resort to the southern path. This, which is called the path of the dead
ancestors, is the wealth.
श्रद्धया विद्ययात्मानमन्विष्यादित्यमभिजयन्ते। एतद्वै प्राणानामायतनम्। एतदमृतमभयम्
। एतत्परायणम्। एतस्मान्न पुनरावर्तन्ते। इत्येष निरोधः
for the self along the northern path with penance, austerity, devotion and
knowledge, win the sun. This is the
abode of the vital breath; This is immortal, (this is) free from fear. This is the goal. From this they do not return again. Thus is this denied ( to the ignorant).
verse – They speak of him as the father having fivefeet, and twelve forms, as
the source of water (existing) in the higher half of the heavens. And others agains speak of him as the
omniscient placed on (a chariot of) seven wheels and six spokes.
एव रयिः। शुक्लः प्राणः।तस्मादेत ऋषयः शुक्ल् इष्टं कुर्वन्ति । इतर इतरस्मिन् ॥
the month. Of this, the dark half is the
wealth, the bright half is life. Hence
the Rishis perform sacrifices in the other half.
similar statement about day and night, and about food, identifying day with
life and night with wealth, and identifying food with Prajapati]
चरन्ति ते मिथुनमुत्पादयन्ते। तेषामेवैष ब्रह्मलोको येषां तपो ब्रह्मचर्यं येषु
perform penance and observe austerity and in whom truth is well established.
न येषु जिह्ममनृतं न माया च – इति
free from blemishes is for them in whom there is no crookedness and untruth,
विधारयन्ते। कतर एतत् प्रकाशयन्ते। कः पुनरेषां वरिष्ठः – इति॥
Vidarbha country asked him: – Venerable Sir, how many gods verily support the
created? How many illumine this? And who again among them is the supreme?
पृथिवी वाङ्मनश्चक्षुः श्रोत्रं च ।
god indeed, is ether, air, fire, water, earth, speech, mind, eye and ear. Illuminating (the world) they say: “ We alone
hold together and support this arrow (the created world).”
पञ्चधात्मानं प्रविभज्यैतद्बाणमवष्ठभ्य विधारयामि – इति॥
them, said to them: “Do not entertain
this false notion, “I alone, dividing my
self five-fold, hold together and support this arrow”.
इव। तस्मिन्नुत्क्रामत्यथेतरे सर्व एवोत्क्रामन्ते तस्मिंश्च प्रतिष्ठमाने सर्व एव
indifferent to it. Through indignation,
he appeared as departing upward. When he departed, then the others also
departed. And when he settled down,
others also settled down.
सर्वा एवोत्क्रामन्ते तस्मिंश्च प्रातिष्ठमाने सर्वा एव प्रातिष्ठन्ते एवं वाङ्मनश्चक्षुः
श्रोत्रं च ॥
of the honey-bees departs (from the hive), all the bees also depart, and when
he settles down, all of them also settle down, similarly do speech and mind,
the eye and the ear.
praised life thus:-
the sun, he is the bountiful rain-god; he is Vayu, he is the Earth, wealth,
god. He is also the real and the unreal
and what is immortal.
क्षत्रं ब्रह्म च॥
of a wheel, everything is established in life; the Riks, Yajus, and Samans,
sacrifice, valour and wisdom.
as Prajapati. You yourself are born
again. O life, the creatures bring
tribute to you who remain well established along with the vital breaths.
(of gifts) to the gods and the first offering to the departed forefathers. You are the life (dedicated to) truth of the
Rishis, the Atharvangirasas.
ज्योतिषां पतिः ॥
by your valour, You are Rudra the Protector.
You move in the interspace; you are the sun, the lord of luminaries.
rain, then these creatures breathe; they live in a state of bliss, hoping that
there would be food according to their desire.
life, the one seer (a form of fire), the eater, the good lord of all. We are the givers of what is to be eaten. O
all-pervading air, you are our father.
which is well established in the speech,
in the ear and in the eye, which exists continuously in the mind, make that
auspicious; do not depart.
प्रज्ञां च विधेहि नः ॥
established in the three worlds. Protect
us as a mother does her sons. Give us
prosperity and wisdom.
जायते। कथमायात्यत्स्मिञ्शरीरे। आत्मानं वा प्रविभज्य
कथं प्रातिष्ठते । केनोत्क्रामते। कथं बाह्यमभिधत्ते। कथमध्यात्मम्- इति॥
son of Ashwala, also asked him – O revered Sir, whence is this life born? How
does it come into this body? And after dividing itself, how does it establish
itself? In what way does it depart? How does it support what is without? How
(does it support) what relates to the self?
asking questions (highly) transcendental. Because you are well established in Brahman,
I will tell you.
पुरुषे छायैतस्मिन्नेतदाततम् । मनोकृतेनायात्यस्मिञ्शरीरे।
the self. Just as there is this shadow
in (the case of ) a person, so is this (life) connected therewith. It comes into this body by the activity of
प्राणान् पृथक् पृथगेव सन्निधत्ते ॥
himself allots to his officers “ You occupy these villages (and you) these”
even similarly this life allocates the other vital breaths to their respective
description of the vital breaths and their positions and funcions]
उदयत्येष ह्येनं चाक्षुषं प्राणमनुगृहानः॥
external life; for he rises gracing the life that is in the eye.
न हास्य प्रजा हीयते। अमृतो भवति। तदेष श्लोक:-
life thus, to him there shall be no lack of offsping. He becomes immortal. Here there is the verse:-
the abode, the five-fold overlordship and the nature of being the self, knowing
these about life, one attains the immortal; knowing these, one attains the
कानि स्वपन्ति। कान्यस्मिन् जाग्रति। कतर एष देवः स्वप्नान्
पश्यति । कस्यैतत् सुखं भवति। कस्मिन् नु सर्वे संप्रतिष्ठिता भवन्ति – इति
grandson of Surya, asked him : – venerable sir, what are they that sleep in
this person? What are they that keep awake in him? What god is it that sees
dreams? Whose is this happiness? In whom are all these established?
गच्छतः सर्वा एतस्मिंस्तेजोमण्डल एकीभवन्ति ताः पुनःपुनरुदयतः प्रचरन्ति एवं ह वै तत्
सर्वं परे देवे मनस्येकीभवन्ति॥
O Gargya, as all the rays of the setting sun become one in this disc of light,
and as they spread out when he rises again and again, so does all this become
one in the supreme god, the mind.
न रसयते न स्पृशते नाभिवदते नादत्ते नानन्दयते न विसृजते नेयायते स्वपितीत्याचक्षते
that time the person hears not, sees not, smells not, tastes not, touches not;
he speaks not, takes not, rejoices not, evacuates not, moves not, (Then ) they
say “ He sleeps”
is a description of the fire-like vital breaths that ever keep awake]
overpowered by light, then in this state, that god sees no dreams. Then at athat time, that happiness arises in
themselves on the trees, their abode, similarly all this is established in the
मन्ता बोद्धा कर्ता विज्ञानात्मा पुरुषः। स परेऽक्षर आत्मनि संप्रतिष्ठते ॥
hearer, the smeller, the taster, the thinker, the knower, the doer, the person
of the nature of intelligence. He establishes himself in the supreme
शुभ्रमक्षरं वेदयते । यस्तु सोम्य
colourless, pure, industructible (self) , attains verily the supreme,
industructible (self). He who (knows thus), O beloved, becomes omnicient,
विज्ञानात्मा सह देवैश्च
प्राणा भूतानि संप्रतिष्ठन्ति
तदक्षरं वेदयते यस्तु
स सर्वज्ञः सर्वमेवाविवेश
which are established the self of the nature of intelligence, the vital breaths
and the elements along with all the gods, becomes, O beloved one, omnicient and
मनुष्येषु प्रायणान्तमोङ्कारमभिध्यायीत कतमं वाव स तेन लोकं जयति – इति ॥
son of sibi, asked him:- Venerable sir, he who verily, among men meditates till
the end of his life on the sound Om – what world indeed does he conquer thereby?
चापरं च ब्रह्म यदोङ्कारः। तस्माद्विद्वानेतेनैवायतनेनैकतरमन्वेति॥
said:- That which is the sound Om, O Satyakama, is verily the higher and the
lower Brahman. Therefore with this support alone does a wise man reach the one
or the other.
जगत्यामभिसंपद्यते। तमृचो मनुष्यलोकमुपनयन्ते। स तत्र तपसा ब्रह्मचर्येण श्रद्धया संपन्नो
meditate on this as of one matra , he, enlightened even by that, soon
attains this earthly world. The Riks lead him to the world of men. There, becomes rich in penance, austerity and
faith, he enjoys supremacy.
यजुर्भिरुन्नीयते सोमलोकम्। स सोमलोके विभूतिमनुभूय पुनरावर्तते ॥
should meditate on this) as of two matras, he attains the mind; he is
led to the interspace, the world of the moon, by Yajus. Enjoying supernatural powers there, he
परं पुरुषमभिध्यायीत स तेजसि सूर्ये संपन्नः ॥
should meditate on this supreme self itself with the Om of three matras,
becomes one with the light, the sun.
विनिर्मुक्तः स सामभिरुन्नीयते ब्रह्मलोकम्। स एतस्माज्जीवघनात् परात् परं पुरिशयं
is bereft of its skin, similarly he is freed from sins and is led upward by
verses of Sama to the world of Brahman.
He sees the Person, living in the heart and superior to the higher life-mass
(each) leading to death by itself, if they are united to each other without
being splitup, and used in rites well
performed, external, internal or in-between, then the knower does not waver.
word. By Yajus (one attains) the interspace.
By Saman (one attains) what the seers know. That, even by the mere sound Om as support, the wise one attains,
and also that which is serene, undecaying, deathless, fearless and supreme.
कौसल्यो राजपुत्रो मामुपेत्यैवं प्रश्नमपृच्छत। षोडशकलं भारद्वाज पुरुषं वेत्थ। तमहं
कुमारमब्रवम् । नाहमिमं वेद। यद्यहमिममवेदिषं कथं ते नाचक्ष्यम् – इति। समूलो वा एष
परिशुष्यति योऽनृतमभिवदति। तस्मान्नार्हाम्यनृतं वक्तुम्। स तूष्णीं रथमारुह्य प्रवव्राज।
तं त्वा पृच्छामि – कासौ पुरुष इति॥
Bharadwaja, asked him:- Venerable sir, Hiranyanabha, a prince of the Kosala
Kingdom, approached me and asked this question; “ Do you know, son of
Bharadwaja, the person having sixteen parts?”.
I replied to that prince; “I know him not, if I had known him, why
should I not tell you about it?” He withers, verily, to his
untruth. Hence it behoves me not to
speak untruth. In silence, he mounted his chariot and departed. I ask you about him; where is that person?
स पुरुषो यस्मिन्नेताः षोडशकलाः प्रभवन्ति – इति
beloved one, is that person in whom these sixteen parts arise.
उत्क्रान्तो भविष्यामि। कस्मिन् वा प्रतिष्ठिते प्रतिष्ठास्यामि- इति॥
thought:- In whose departure shall I be departing? And in whose settling down,
shall I be settling down?
मनोऽन्नम्। अन्नाद्वीर्यं तपो मन्त्राः कर्म लोकाः। लोकेषु नाम च ॥
From life, faith; (then followed) space, air, light, water, earth, sense-organ,
mind, food. From food (sprang) vitality,
penance, hymns, work, worlds. And in the
worlds (he created) name.
प्राप्यास्तं गच्छन्ति भिद्येते तेषां नामरूपे समुद्र इत्येवं प्रोच्यते एवमेवास्य
परिद्रष्टुरिमाः षोडशकलाः पुरुषायणाः पुरुषं प्राप्यास्तं गच्छन्ति भिद्येते चासां
नामरूपे पुरुष इत्येवं प्रोच्यते स एषोऽकलोऽमृतो भवति ॥
rivers teding towards the ocean, on reaching the ocean, disappear, their name
and form are broken up, and one speaks only of the ocean; even so these sixteen
parts of the seer, tending towards the person, on reaching the person,
disappear, their name and form are broken up, and one speaks only of the
person. That one is what has no parts
and what is immortal.
well established as spokes in the nave of the wheel, know him, the person to be
known, so that death may not hurt you.
तारयसि – इति
(again) said: – Only thus far do I know of this supreme Brahman. There is
nothing higher than this. They
worshipped him ( and said): Thou, indeed, art our father who dost take us
across to the other shore of nescience.
the supreme Rishis. Salutations to the