Mahā Nārāyaṇa Upanishad | Section I 11-18


na saṁdṛśe tiṣṭhati rūpamasya na cakṣuṣā paśyati kaścanainam .
hṛdā manīśā manasābhiklṛpto ya enaṁ viduramṛtāste bhavanti .. 11..

11. His form is not to be beheld; none whosoever beholds Him with the eye. Those who meditate on Him with their minds undis­tracted and fixed in the heart know Him; they become immortal.


Paramātman cannot be perceived with the eyes or mind like a cow or a tree standing before a person. At best, objects of the universe act only as symbols of the Divine Reality.

Though absolutely transcendent and indescribable, ignorance is not the sole refuge in respect of Paramātman. With the help of proper scriptures and a preceptor one may realize Him by the practice of Yoga. This requires the control of mind and concentration of thought in the heart accompanied by appropriate emotions and feelings. Those who succeed in realizing Paramātman by this method become immortal. The unconditioned form of Brahman and Its conditioned form realized through worship and meditation are described in this stanza. The same passage occurs in Kaha and Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣads also with slight variations.


In the immediately preceding stanza, attainment of immortality was declared to be the fruit of realizing Paramātman in the heart through appropriate discipline.

This is emphasized by the reproduction of Uttara Nārāyaṇa- anuvāka given in Taittirīya Āraṇyaka III 13 (which according to Āpastamba is recited during the worship of the Sun— ādityopasthāna) and Paramātma Sūkta or Hiraṇyagarbha Sūkta appearing m the Yajur Veda samhitā with which this Upaniṣad is connected though the received text gives only the pratīka or the index words of these two sūktas, they are reprinted below in their entirety with English rendering only for the convenience of those who make use of this publication: //

adbhyassambhūtaḥ pṛthivyai rasācca I
viśvakarmaṇassamavartatādhi I
tasya tvaṣṭā vidadhadrūpameti I
tatpuruṣasya viśvamājānamagre I 1

1. The universe arose from Viśvakarma through water, earth, fire and other elements. He excelled Āditya, Indra and other gods. The sun called Tvaṣṭā rises in the morning embodying His brilliance. In the beginning of creation the mortal world enveloped in gloom received its divine brilliance from the sun shining in the glory of Paramātman.

vedāhametaṁ puruṣam mahāntam I
ādityavarṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt I
tamevam vidvānamṛta iha bhavati I
nānyaḥ panthā vidyate'yanaya I 2

2. I know this Great Person who is beyond ignorance and darkness and whose splendour is comparable to that of the sun. Knowing Him thus in this life itself, one transcends death. There is no other path leading to the attainment of liberation.

prajāpatiścarati garbhe antaḥ I
ajāyamano bahudhā vijāyate
tasya dhīrāḥ parijānanti yonim I
marīcīnāṁ padamicchanti vedhasaḥ I 3

3. The sun who is the Lord of creatures moves about in the space between heaven and earth causing day and night. Although He is unborn, being the Self of all, He manifests Himself as the manifold universe. Wise men realize the source of the universe, the all-pervading Para­mātman. Prajāpatis, the first patriarchs, sought the position, which Marīchi and other sages attained.

yo devebhya ātapati I yo devānāṁ purohitaḥ I
 pūrvo yo devebhyo jātaḥ I  namo rucāya brāhmaye I 4

4. Salutation to the resplendent Sun-God who is the son of Parabrahman, who shines for the benefit of gods, who is invoked as the benefi­cent leader of the gods, and who was born as the eldest among the gods.

rucam brāhmam janayantaḥ I devā agre tadabruvann I
yastvaivaṁ brāhmaṇo vidyāt I tasya devā asan vaśe I 5

5. When the gods instituted the Know­ledge of Brahman they declared thus teaching about the Supreme reality—That sage who knows the Supreme as described before will have sovereignty over gods, for he has become the Inmost Self of all.

hrīśca te lakṣmīśca patnyau I ahorātre pārśve I nakṣatrāṇi rūpam I
aśvinau vyāttam I iṣṭaṁ maniṣāṇa I amum maniṣāṇa I sarvaṁ maniṣāṇa II 6

6. O Sun, Hrī and Lakṣmī are Thy con­sorts, Thyself being Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva. Day and night are Thy two sides. Asterisms in the sky are Thine own form. The Aśvīns are Thy mouth. Being such, grant me whatever I desire, spiritual illumination, happiness here and other objects of desire.


The above six passages known as the Uttara Nārāyaṇa- anuvāka are employed in connection with various acts of worship There are slight recension differences, of which Śrī used in the place of Hrī is the most significant one ]

The following hymn to Hiraṇyagarbha in the triṣṭub metre “seen” by the son of Prajāpati who is also called Hiraṇyagarbha, has for its Deity Prajāpati designated as the indeterminate pronoun Kaḥ. Prajāpati here is called Hiraṇyagarbha because the universe which is like a golden egg is conceived as His body and also because He is the Highest Self dwelling in all as Sūtrātman The purpose of quoting this hymn here is to stress the necessity of knowing and worshipping Him for the attainment of earthly welfare and immortality The hymn quoted here from Taittirīya- Saṁhitā IV-1-8 has minor deviations from the same hymn as found in the Ṛigvedā:


hiraṇyagarbhaḥ samavartatāgre bhūtasya jātaḥ patir eka āsīt I
sa dādhāra pṛthivīṁ dyām utemāṁ kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema II1

1 The resplendent Prajāpati was born at the beginning of creation from the Supreme potent with the power of Māyā. Having been born He became the one sustainer and nourisher of all beings. The same Paramātman, here designat­ed as Hiraṇyagarbha, supports the earth as well as heaven. May we worship that shining One with offerings—who is of the nature of bliss or whose characteristic nature cannot be interrogated.

yaḥ prāṇato nimiṣato mahitvaika id rājā jagato babhūva I
ya iśe asya dvipadaś catuṣpadaḥ kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema II2

2. Who became the sovereign ruler of all beings living and existing on the earth; who controls as the indwelling Spirit all the bipeds and quadrupeds evident on the earth,

ya ātmadā baladā yasya viśva upāsate praśiṣaṁ yasya devāḥ I
yasya chāyāmṛtaṁ yasya mṛtyuḥ kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema II3

3. Who is the giver of Self (all Selves in reality being Himself); who is the bestower of strength (as nourisher through food); whose command even gods are eager to receive, whom immortality and death obey like shadow;

yasyeme hima vanto mahitvā yasya samudraṁ rasaya saha āhuḥ I
yasyemāḥ pradiśo yasya bāhū kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema ||4

4. Whose glory the mountains, the Himalayas and the rest, declare; whose greatness the ocean along with rivers proclaim; to whose hands engaged in dispensing justice may be compared the eight directions.

yaṁ trandasī avasā tastabhāne abhyaikṣetām manasā rejamāne I
yatrādhi sūra uditau vyeti kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema II5

5. Whom the dual deity, heaven and earth, shining by light and established for the protection of the world view in mind as the source of their greatness; supported by whom the sun moves gloriously after rising,

yena dyaur ugrā pṛthivī ca dṛḍhe yena suva stabhitaṁ yena nākaḥ I
yo antarikṣe rajaso vimānaḥ kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema II 6

6. By whom the powerful sky and the terrestrial region were made firm, by whom the blissful heaven was awarded to the virtuous, by whom Release was appointed for the virtuous; who is the maker of Rājasa creation in the mid-region.

āpo ha yan mahatīr viśvam āyan dakṣaṁ dadhānā janayantīr agnim I
tato devānāṁ nir avartatāsur ekaḥ kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema II7

7. Through the power of whom the great Causal Waters holding within it the power of unfoldment and the capacity to produce fire trans­formed itself into the form of the world and from whom the one Breath of all gods came into existence.

yaś cid āpo mahinā paryapaśyad dakṣaṁ dadhānā janayantīr agnim I
yo deveṣv adhi deva eka āsīt kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema II

8. Who—the Hiraṇyagarbha—viewed the waters which create fire and support the Vedic acts of worship (in order to endow it with such potency), who is the one God ruling over all the rest.


eṣa hi devaḥ pradiśo'nu sarvāḥ
pūrvo hi jātaḥ sa u garbhe antaḥ .
sa vijāyamānaḥ sa janiṣyamāṇaḥ
pratyaṅmukhāstiṣṭhati viśvatomukhaḥ .. 12..

12. This Self-luminous Lord renowned in the scriptures pervades all the quarters of heaven. Having been born as Hiraṇyagarbha in the beginning, He indeed is inside the universe represented as the womb. He alone is the mani­fold world of creation now springing into existence and causing the birth of the world of creation yet to come. As one having face everywhere, He dwells also as the inner most Self leading all creatures.


The stanzas beginning with this one describe the glory of Paramātman. The manifested world and every item in it point to His power. Not only the Hiraṇyagarbha, embodying the universe in its totality, but every being in the world is a representative of Paramātman. He is immanent in all. He is the Master and Ruler of every intellect. All the senses are doorways for Him, serving as channels of communication. As cause and effect, He connects successive generations of creation.

viśvataścakṣuruta viśvato mukho viśvato hasta uta viśvataspāt .
saṁ bāhubhyāṁ namati saṁ patatrairdyāvāpṛthivī janayan deva ekaḥ .. 13..

13. The Self-luminous Reality is one without a second and is the creator of heaven and earth (Having created the universe by Himself and out of Himself) He became the possessor of the eyes, faces, hands and feet of all creatures in every part of the universe. He controls all of them by dharma and adharma (merit and demerit) represent­ed as His two hands and the constituent ele­ments of the universe which have supplied the Souls with the material embodiment represented as patatra or legs.


This stanza tells us that the Paramātman is both the operative and the material cause of the universe, besides being the ruler and guide of all creatures and the user of their limbs, actions and senses as His instruments.

It is quoted here from Taittirīya Saṁhitā IV 6-24. It is also found with slight alterations in Atharvaveda XIII 2-26 and Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad III 3.

venastat paśyan viśvā bhuvanāni vidvān yatra viśvaṁ bhavatyekanīḍam .
yasminnidaɱsaṁ ca vi caikaɱsa otaḥ protaśca vibhuḥ prajāsu .. 14..
pra tadvoce amṛtaṁ nu vidvān gandharvo nāma nihitaṁ guhāsu .
trīṇi padā nihitā guhāsu yastadveda savituḥ pitā sat .. 15..

14-15. He in whom this universe originates and into whom it is absorbed, He who exists as the warp and woof in all created beings, He by whom the three states (of waking, dream and deep sleep) are appointed in the intellects hidden in creatures, He in whom the universe finds a single place of rest—having seen that Paramātman, the Gandharva named Vena became a true knower of all the worlds and proclaimed (to his disciples for the first time) that Reality as immortal. He who knows that all-pervasive One becomes worthy of receiving the honour due to a father even from his own natural father.


The idea of safety and togetherness are implied in these meanings The whole universe of beings has its safety resort in the Paramātman and derives its existence and intelligence from Him. The second metaphor is about the warp and woof in a woven fabric without which it cannot be. The creation has no existence apart from its divine cause, and knowledge of the Divine Reality alone gives one a true knowledge about the perceptible universe. He who knows God in the world and the world as not different from the cause of its origin, support and final goal, realizes immorta­lity.

It is mentioned that Vena is one of those who realized this truth first and proclaimed it to others.

In the last line divine knowledge is extolled. The Vedic seers recognized the spiritual father’s superiority to the natural father and even asserted that a son who has become enlightened in divine wisdom may be honoured by his own biological father.

Guhā in the text literally means a cave or a hiding place. It represents here the buddhi or intellect which is the medium through which the Spirit or Ātman manifests Itself. It is also the seat of waking, dream and sleep.

Verses 14 to 18 are originally found in Atharvaveda II 1 1-5 with some variation and transposition.

sa no bandhurjanitā sa vidhātā dhāmāni veda bhuvanāni viśvā .
yatra devā amṛtamānaśānāstṛtīye dhāmānyabhyairayanta .. 16..

16. Through whose power the gods who have attained immortality in the third region of heaven got allotted their respective places, He is our friend, father and ordainer. He knows the proper places of each because He under­stands all created beings.


In this stanza the Divine Providence is described as the benefactor of all creatures. He is the father, brother, friend and true judge conferring upon all individual beings position, function and enjoyment according to the merits of the deeds done by them. The fruits of actions come from Him.

pari dyāvāpṛthivī yanti sadyaḥ pari lokān pari diśaḥ pari suvaḥ .
ṛtasya tantuṁ vitataṁ vicṛtya tadapaśyat tadabhavat prajāsu .. 17..

17. They (i.e. , those who have realized their identity with the Highest Lord) immediately spread over heaven and earth. They pervade other worlds, the quarters of heaven and the heavenly region called Suvar-loka. Whosoever among created beings sees that Brahman named Rita or ‘the True’, unintermittently pervading the creation like the thread of a cloth, by contemplation in mind, truly becomes That.


Having described Divine Providence and Grace lead­ing to welfare in the embodied stage and final release from worldly existence, the text by this stanza sets forth the nature of a liberated soul.

The moment an aspirant, who has reached maturity, attains perfect knowledge, he realizes his oneness with all that exists.

parītya lokān parītya bhūtāni parītya sarvāḥ pradiśo diśaśca .
prajāpatiḥ prathamajā ṛtasyātmanātmānamabhisaṁbabhūva .. 18..

18. Having pervaded the worlds and the created beings and all the quarters and intermediate quarters, the first-born of Brahman known as Prajāpati or Hiraṇyagarbha became by His own nature as Paramātman, the ruler and protector of individual souls.


This stanza occurs also in Taittirīya Āraṇyaka I 23-9. It concludes the description or definition of the ultimate Reality, Parabrahman or Paramātman, commencing with the opening stanza. We learn from the foregone passages these important doctrines.

The Paramam Brahma of the Vedic seers is called Ṛitam and Satyam. There is nothing subtler or higher than this one Reality which is beyond perceptual knowledge as well as ignorance and dark­ness. It is the one Reality in which the visible and imaginable universe has its origination, sustentation and retraction. This immortal, self-luminous, ineffable Reality is realized in the hearts of self-disciplined sages, who have thereby attained liberation.

As the cause of the universe, He is within the com­prehension of all in general. He is Prajāpati, the father of all created beings, who has assigned to each individual according to his deserts, objects, means and places for experiencing the results of his thoughts and deeds.

He is again called Hiraṇyagarbha for the reason that he is pervading the universe inside and outside by His power of knowledge and action. In this aspect He is expressed more or less through the sun, the moon and the stars, fire, water and air, men, animals and plants, days, months and seasons. None ever equals or surpasses Him in glory. As the parent, friend and benefactor of all creatures, it is to Him all should turn for refuge from fear, security in welfare and guidance to knowledge.

Finally, with His grace and by the knowledge of Him man attains release from Samsāra and gains ultimate beatitude. Those sages who have attained this goal declare this truth to others and become honoured guides and exemplars to common humanity seeking light and succour in the world.

Concluding this grand theme the present passage informs us that the same Reality embodied in the entire universe, for all time, dwells in each one of us as the dual principle—the individual self and the Highest Self— the two companion birds with golden plumage perching on the self-same tree mentioned in other Upaniṣads.

The un­conditioned Brahman cannot be considered the cause of the universe as It can be regarded only as the negation of all asser­tions. Hence the cause of the universe is traced to Hiraṇyagarbha or Īśvara who is conceived as the first-born, although He is never born or in reality different from Brahman.

The remaining part of this Upaniṣad mostly deals with holy utterances prescribed for facilitating meditation and other religious acts connected with worship intended to lead an aspirant to the Divine Reality described above.