Mahā Nārāyaṇa Upanishad | Section I 54-70


āpo hi ṣṭhā mayobhuvastā na ūrje dadhātana . mahe raṇāya
cakṣase . yo vaḥ śivatamo rasastasya bhājayate'ha naḥ .
uśatīriva mātaraḥ . tasmā araṁ gamāma vo yasya kṣayāya
jinvatha . āpo janayathā ca naḥ .. 54..

54. O waters, verily you are bliss-conferring! Being such, grant us food, and great and beautiful insight (of the Supreme Truth)! Further, make us in this very life participators of that joy of yours which is most auspicious, just like fond mothers (who nurse their darlings with nourishment)! May we attain to that satisfactory abode of yours which you are pleased to grant us! Generate for us also the waters of life and pleasures on earth (during our sojourn here)!


These three Rig verses, reproduced here from Taittirīya Saṁhitā IV 1-5, rank among the important prayers addressed to the Divine Being in connection with the twilight devotions and other acts of worship.

These are repeated also for the cere­monious regeneration of oneself by prokana or holy asper­sion.

The deity extolled in these passages is water which is not merely the essential liquid element that sustains life but the Supreme Reality. No doubt, the liquid element is supremely important as the giver of food, happiness and the sustenance, which is necessary for higher insight and achievement. The qualifying words used here, however, serve also as signs to infer the Supreme Truth or Brahman.

The word maya in the Vedic means bliss, and unlimited bliss is Brahman only. The immediate intuition of Brahman alone deserves to be called the great and beautiful vision.

The term rasa in the Upaniṣad is expressive of the bliss of Brahman, and here it is described as most auspicious. The homely analogy of the fond mother nourishing her children applies to Divine Providence ever solicitous for the welfare of created beings. Ordinary water required for the sustenance of life has its home or source in Brahman and so here the cause and the effect are described as identical.

In substance, there­fore, this is a prayer addressed to the Supreme Being by the needy man who has been awakened to the necessity of worship, entreating for food and sustenance for body, mind and spirit, and for imperishable bliss.

To the pious Hindu the universal liquid element is not merely an essential of life but also the visible and tangible divinity available at hand for worship and self-purification.

Therefore the tendency to think of water solely as a chemical substance, to defile it wantonly and to waste it when living beings are in need of it deserves to be treated as sin against God Himself.

Regarding this the Taittirīya Āraṇyaka I 26-7 states :

—Let not a person neither spit, urinate, or defecate in water, nor bathe unclad. Let him not eat any part of the tortoise or fish. Then no aquatic creature will hurt him and water will be auspicious towards him.

hiraṇyaśṛṅgaṁ varuṇaṁ prapadye tīrtha me dehi yācitaḥ .
yanmayā bhuktamasādhūnāṁ pāpebhyaśca pratigrahaḥ .. 55..

55. I take refuge in Varuṇa, who is of golden lustre or who has a golden diadem! O Varuṇa,  being entreated by me, grant me the saving grace! For I have enjoyed what belongs to bad people and accepted gift from sinners.


This mantra and the following one are addressed to Varuṇa, the regent of the waters, during the plunge bath.

The word tīrtha has the sense of a ford, a bathing ghāṭ or what helps a man to cross over sin.

Varuṇa is prayed for a proper bathing place and for the saving religious merit that accrues from a holy bath. If a person is compelled by the force of circumstances to accept necessaries of life from wrong and sinful persons, expiation for such transgression of the scrip­tural rule is required through the performance of purification acts.

The high moral tone evident in the mantra mobilizes common sentiment against cooperation with sin and wicked­ness in any form:

In Chāṇḍogya Upaniṣad V 11-5 we read the declaration of Aśvapati Kekaya to the five brāhmaṇas, who hesitated to accept his gifts, that he was a King whose gifts are worthy of acceptance, because he ruled the country so well that there was no thief, no toper, no cuckold, no whore or any ignoramus in his land .

yanme manasā vācā karmaṇā vā duṣkṛtaṁ kṛtam .
tanna indro varuṇo bṛhaspatiḥ savitā ca punantu punaḥ punaḥ .. 56..

56. May Indra, Varuṇa, Bṛhaspati and Sāvitrī completely destroy that sin committed by me and my people in thought, word and act!


This too is a mantra repeated along with the previous one during bath.

namo'gnaye'psumate nama indrāya
namo varuṇāya namo vāruṇyai namo'dbhyaḥ .. 57..

57. Salutation to fire hidden in water! Salutation to Indra! Salutation to Varuṇa! Salutation to Vāruṇī, the consort of Varuṇa! Salutation to the deities of waters!


These salutations are made to the respective deities when the worshipper is standing in. water for his bath.

yadapāṁ krūraṁ yadamedhyaṁ yadaśāntaṁ tadapagacchatāt .. 58..

58. (Through the power of this mantra) let all that is injurious, impure and troublesome in water be destroyed.


Currents and eddies, floating impurities and excretions, and the peculiar quality of some water to produce sickness, are to be counteracted by the supposed power of this mantra. Repeating this mantra a person about to take bath draws a circle around the area where he takes the dip.

atyāśanādatīpānād yacca ugrāt pratigrahāt .
tanme varuṇo rājā pāṇinā hyavamarśatu .. 59..
so'hamapāpo virajo nirmukto muktakilbiṣaḥ .
nākasya pṛṣṭhamāruhya gacchedbrahmasalokatām .. 60.

59. May the King Varuṇa efface by his hand whatever sin I have incurred by unlawful eating, unlawful drinking and accepting gifts from an unlawful person.

60. Thus being sinless, stainless and unbound by evil and bondage, may I ascend to the happy heaven and enjoy equality of status with Brahman!


These two mantras are uttered while taking a dip in water.

It is the duty of a religious man to eat and drink only after having performed his daily devotions which consist in the worship of gods, ancestors and men duly with oblations. If he attended to his own physical needs of nourishment before dis­charging this religious duty it is considered unlawful.

So also a religious man must be careful about right livelihood. He should not accept wealth or articles of necessity from any person whose earnings are not approved by scriptural regulations.

If under straitened circumstances he is exposed to the sin resulting from the transgression of the rule in these res­pects, he ought to expiate it by this penitent prayer to Varuṇa.

The goal of the aspirant is to become god-like in the highest heaven. For him, life on this earth, therefore, must be an effort for freedom from sin and attainment of purity. The bondage which is often spoken of in this context comprises not only in the commission of sins forbidden by the śastras and omission of enjoined duties, but also the sins of temper and passion as stressed in the first half of mantra 60.

yaścāpsu varuṇaḥ sa punātvaghamarṣaṇaḥ .. 61..

61. May the sin-effacing Varuṇa who dwells in other sources of water like rivers, tanks, and wells also purify us!


This short mantra is evidently a supplement to the previ­ous one.

imaṁ me gaṅge yamune sarasvati śutudri stomaɱ sacatā paruṣṇiyā .
asiknia marudvṛdhe vitastayārjīkīye śṛṇuhyā suṣomayā ..62..

62. O Ganga, O Yamuna, O Sarasvatī, O Śutudrī, O Marudvṛidhā, O Ārjīkīyā, come together and listen to this hymn of mine along with Paruṣṇī,  Asiknī, Vitastā and Suṣomā.


This is a jagatī stanza from the Rigveda X 75-5 for the invocation of the Regents of various holy rivers in connection with purification rites.

To the Vedic seers the great rivers men­tioned here represented Divinity. They often expressed their devotion and gratitude to these life-sustaining and purifying rivers by proper invocations. Their descendants even when they had emigrated from the banks of those rivers prayed to the river goddesses to be present in any water which they used for their daily needs and worship. With the simplicity of a guileless child they prayed to these liquid divinities to be present in their own bodies through the connection of water which they used. They also entreated them to purify then bodies and minds and to vouchsafe them safety and welfare.

Students of Indian history find here the names of those rivers on the banks of which the Rig-Vedic people settled at a very remote period. They identify Suṣomā with Sohān, Vitastā with Jhelum, Asiknī with Chenab, Marudvṛidhā with Maruwārdwān, Paruṣṇī with Rabi and Śutudrī with Sutlej. – These all are rivers in North India, Punjab state and present day Pakistan’s territories.

ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ cābhīddhāttapaso'dhyajāyata .
tato rātrirajāyata tataḥ samudro arṇavaḥ .. 63..
samudrādarṇavādadhi saṁvatsaro ajāyata .
ahorātrāṇi vidadhadviśvasya miṣato vaśī .. 64..
sūryācandramasau dhātā yathāpūrvamakalpayat .
divaṁ ca pṛthivīṁ cāntarikṣamatho suvaḥ .. 65..

63. From the all-illuminating Supreme, by His resolve, the right and the true were generated. From Him night and day were generated. And from Him again was generated the sea with different waters.

64-65. Then, after the creation of the vast ocean the year was generated. Afterwards the ruler of the world of sentient and non-sentient beings who made day and night, ordained sun and moon, sky and earth and the atmosphere and blissful heaven, just as they were in the previous cycles of creation.


These three Anuṣṭubh mantras from the Rigveda X 190 1-3 are reputed to be sin-effacing or Āghamarṣaṇa.

The subject matter dealt with in these stanzas being, evidently, the crea­tion of the universe, the context demands an explanation, which connects the thoughts directly or indirectly with the Supreme Being.

The prayer purports to be a means of self-purification. According to the dharma śāstras these mantras may also be repeated for the expiation of sins (Prāyaśchitta), besides their use during bath.

Although Hindu religion has accepted the idea of the creation of the universe in general, there is a marked difference between the Hindu view of creation and the Christian view of it:

This is evident from the stanza 65, which declares that each creationistic cycle is a counterpart of the previous one similar in order and categories created for the benefit of individual souls.

yatpṛthivyāɱ rajaḥ svamāntarikṣe virodasī .
imāɱstadāpo varuṇaḥ punātvaghamarṣaṇaḥ ..
punantu vasavaḥ punātu varuṇaḥ punātvaghamarṣaṇaḥ .
eṣa bhūtasya madhye bhuvanasya goptā ..
eṣa puṇyakṛtāṁ lokāneṣa mṛtyorhiraṇmayam .
dyāvāpṛthivyorhiraṇmayaɱ saɱśritaɱ suvaḥ .
sa naḥ suvaḥ saɱśiśādhi .. 66..

66. May the sin-effacing Varuṇa, the deity presiding over the waters, purify the taint of sin that attaches to the beings dwelling on the earth, in the atmospheric region and in the space between the earth and heaven and also connected with us (the performers of religious work)!

May the Vāsus purify us!. May Varuṇa purify us! May Āghamarṣaṇa, the sage called by that name, purify us!

He, Varuṇa, is the protector of the world that was and also the world that exists at present between the past and the future worlds. He grants to the doers of meritorious deeds the worlds which they deserve and to the sinful the world of death called Hiraṇmaya.

Again Varuṇa who is the support of heaven and earth, having become the sun is wholesome and attractive. Being such, blissful in nature, thou O Varuṇa, grant us thy favours and purify us.


The mantras contained in this paragraph are repeated while dipping oneself in water for bath.

ārdraṁ jvalatijyotirahamasmi . jyotirjvalati brahmāhamasmi .
yo'hamasmi brahmāhamasmi . ahamasmi brahmāhamasmi .
ahamevāhaṁ māṁ juhomi svāhā .. 67..

67. That Supreme Light which projected Itself as the universe like a soaked seed which sprouts (or that Supreme Light which shines as the substratum of the liquid element)—I am that Supreme Light, I am that supreme light of Brahman which shines as the inmost essence of all that exists. In reality I am the same infinite Brahman even when I am experiencing myself as a finite self, owing to Ignorance.

Now by the onset of knowledge I am really that Brahman which is my eternal nature. Therefore I realise this identity by making myself, the finite self, an oblation into the fire of the infinite Brahman, which I am always. May this oblation be well made!


These formulas are generally prescribed for repetition during the performance of ācamana or sipping of water in a specified way for ceremonious self-purification.

This symbolic action consists in taking a very small quantity of water by the mouth which should not pass below the throat. These few drops of water are considered as an oblation made to the deities dwelling in the body, for all the gods dwell in man.

Taittirīya Saṁhitā IV 4-2 states:  —The Brāhmaṇa is all the gods.

Though the mantra 67 is ritualistic in application as explained above, its true import is highly philosophical and spiritual:

The drop of water represents the finite self. The fire in man into which it is offered stands for the Supreme Light, the Ground of all gods. The mantra, therefore, truly enunciates the refunding of the individual self into its source, the Supreme Self, or the realisation of the identity between the Jīva and Īśvara when the adjuncts created by Ignorance are removed.

akāryavakīrṇī steno bhrūṇahā gurutalpagaḥ .
varuṇo'pāmaghamarṣaṇastasmāt pāpāt pramucyate .. 68..

68. He who is a transgressor of the scriptural conduct, a recreant, a thief, a feticide or an outrager of his preceptor's honour is released from his sins, for Varuṇa, the regent of waters and effacer of sins (absolves them from sins by the repetition of this mantra).


This mantra is also employed for repetition during bath.

According to the traditional codes avakīrṇin  is one who gives up his vow of continence and bhrūṇahan is one who acts in a way detrimental to the preservation of the Veda.

With the development of moral and religious susceptibilities in a reli­gious person through faith and practice, he comes to entertain a revulsion for all suspected sins which are possible in the society to which he belongs. He is afraid of their presence in some of his innumerable past births. He suspects them even in the present life.

Further, being cognisant of the supreme purity of God whom he worships, the feeling of abasement often overtakes him and inclines him to consider himself an actual or a potential sinner.

All his sins he expiates nevertheless through daily acts of purity such as the repetition of holy formulas like the present one, accompanied by pre­scribed acts like bath. The śāstras have never given licence for unholy acts with provision for their future cancellation by rituals.

rajobhūmistva māɱ rodayasva pravadanti dhīrāḥ .. 69..

69. I am the ground of sins. Therefore you cause me to weep. Wise men say (don’t make me weep, but favour me by destroying my sins).


This formula also is expiatory and is repeated along with the previous one. The statement appears to be grammati­cally incomplete and so an interpretative translation is given supplementing the gap.

ākrāntsamudraḥ prathame vidharmañjanayanprajā bhuvanasya rājā .
vṛṣā pavitre adhi sāno avye bṛhatsomo vāvṛdhe suvāna induḥ .. 70..

70. The Supreme, represented as the ocean, has overflown to the whole creation. He has created at first creatures according to the deserts of their various past deeds. He is the ruler of the universe and the munificent giver of gifts to the devotees He dwells together with Umā (His power giving spiritual illumination) in the hearts of devotees which are holier than other parts of their body (the seat of the Divine) and therefore superior and elevated like a peak and affording protection The Jīva who is his abode grows to be infinite. He is the Lord who delights the individual souls by guiding according to their deeds and conferring on them fruits of their actions.


This Tristubh mantra is prescribed for repetition after bath.