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Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Quotes and Teachings - A Collection of 51 Quotes from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad


Just as a caterpillar reaches the tip of one blade of grass then starts to crawl up another blade so does atman leave on body behind and start its next life in another one until it reaches Brahman.

As a lump of salt thrown in water dissolves and cannot be taken out again, though wherever we taste the water it is salty, even so, beloved, the separate self dissolves in the sea of pure consciousness, infinite and immortal. Separateness arises from identifying the Self with the body, which is made up of the elements; when this physical identification dissolves, there can be no more separate self.

There is no multiplicity here.

The Self is to be heard of, reasoned about, and meditated upon.

He is the organs; he is ten and thousands – many and infinite. That Brahman is without prior or posterior, without interior or exterior. This Self, the perceiver of everything, is Brahman. This is the teaching.

As an eagle, weary after soaring in the sky, folds its wings and flies down to rest in its nest, so does the shining Self enter the state of dreamless sleep, where one is free from all desires.

As a person acts, so he becomes in life. Those who do good become good; those who do harm become bad. Good deeds make one pure; bad deeds make one impure. You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.

A Collection of Quotes From Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

He who knows the Self as such becomes self-controlled, calm, withdrawn into himself, enduring and concentrated, and sees the Self in his own body; he sees all as the Self. Evil does not overtake him, but he transcends all evil. Evil does not trouble him, but he consumes all evil. He becomes sinless, taintless, free from doubts and a knower of Brahman (the Infinite). (Chaper IV, iv. 23)

All that is invisible is verily the Infinite. All that is visible is also the Infinite. The whole universe has come out of the Infinite, which is still the Infinite.

This earth is like honey for all beings, and all beings are like honey for this earth.

Whosoever, in this world, without knowing the Brahman, if he worships and performs sacrifices, and austerities, his work will have an end (will bear no fruits). After taking the human form, it is pitiable to depart from this world without knowing the Brahman. (Yajnavalkya)

Uddalaka's question – Do you know about the Sutraatma, the thread that strings together everything in this universe — you and me, the multitude of worlds and every particle therein?

Yajnavalkya's answer – Vayu is the Sutra by which all things are strung together. Everything gets loosened in a dead person when this Sutra vanishes. Vayu acts as a string holding together every aspect of this world and the next.

Now as to him who is free from desire, who is beyond desire, who has gained hisdesire, for whom the Soul is his desire. From him the life powers go not out. Growing one with the Eternal, he enters into the Eternal.

When all desires that were hid in the heart are let go, the mortal becomes immortal, and reaches the Eternal.

And like as the slough of a snake lies lifeless, cast forth upon an ant-hill, so lies his body, when the spirit of man rises up bodiless and immortal as the Life, as the Eternal, as the Radiance.

The small old path that stretches far away has been found and followed by me. By it go the Seers who know the Eternal, rising up from this world to the heavenly world.

In the beginning, this (universe) was but the self (Viraj), of a human form. . He was not at all happy. Therefore people (still) are not happy when alone.

He desired a mate. He became as big as man and wife embracing each other. He parted his very body into two.

Therefore, said Yajnavalkya, this (body) is one-half of one self, like one of the two halves of a split pea. Therefore this space is indeed filled by the wife. He was united with her. From that humans were born.

She thought, How can he be united with me after producing me from himself?

Well, let me hide myself.. She became a cow, the other became a bull and was united with her; from that cows were born. The one became a mare, the other a stallion; . Thus did he project everything that exists in pairs, down to the ants.

So the Upanishad asserts: .This Self has entered into these bodies up to the tip of the nails (anakhagrebhyo) as a razor may be put in its case (yathakoura kouradhane avahita syat), or as fire, which sustains the world, may be in its source (viuvambharo vaviuvambharakulaye)

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Quotes on Fearlessness

There is fear from duality. (Non-duality alone is fearless). (Chapter 1. 4.2).

Yajnavalkya said: O Janaka! You have attained the fearless (Brahman). (Chapter 4. 2..4).

Brahman is fearless; one who knows this, becomes the fearless Brahman. The knower of the fearless Brahman becomes himself absolutely fearless. (Chapter 4.4. 25).

Sage Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi on Self

Sage Yajnavalkya decided to renounce his householder’s life and distribute his wealth among Maitreyi and Katyayani.

Thereupon Maitreyi, his wife, said, ‘Sir, if indeed this whole earth full of wealth be mine, shall I be immortal through that?’

‘No’, replied Yajnavalkya, ‘your life will be just like that of people who have plenty of things, but there is no hope of immortality through wealth.’

Then Maitreyi said, ‘What shall I do with that which will not make me immortal? Tell me, sir, of that alone through which I can attain immortality.’

Yajnavalkya said, ‘My dear, you have been my beloved (even before), and you say what is after my heart. Come, take your seat, I will explain it to you. As I explain it, meditate on its meaning.

It is not for the sake of the husband, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved.

It is not for the sake of the wife, my dear, that she is loved, but for one’s own sake that she is loved.

It is not for the sake of the sons, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of wealth, my dear, that it is loved, but for one’s own sake that it is loved.

It is not for the sake of the Brahmana, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved.

It is not for the sake of the Kshatriya, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved.

It is not for the sake of worlds, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of the gods, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of beings, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved.

It is not for the sake of all, my dear, that all is loved, but for one’s own sake that it is loved.

The Self, my dear Maitreyi, should be realized – should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. By the realization of the Self, my dear, through hearing, reflection and meditation, all this is known.

The Atman is indeed Brahman.
But through ignorance people identify it with
Intellect, mind, senses, passions [= the jiva],
And the elements of earth, water, air, space, and fire.
This is why the Atman is said to consist of this and that,
And appears to be everything.

Quotes on Creation from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad contains several ideas of creation of the universe and living beings. Here is one such idea found in it.

He, verily, had no delight. Therefore he who is alone has no delight. He desired a second. He became as large as a woman and a man in close embrace. He caused that self to fall into two parts. From that arose husband and wife. Therefore, as Yajnavalkaya used to say, this body is one half of oneself, like one of the two halves of a split pea. Therefore this space is filled by a wife. He became united with her. From that human beings were produced. (Chapter 1, 4, 4).

Dr S Radha Krishna explains this idea as –
Both are his elements. The two are not separate and the theory is not one of final dualism.
The original being, atman or self, looks around and sees nothing else but himself. When he realizes his loneliness, he has two feelings one of fear and the other of desire for companionship. His fear is dispelled when he realizes that there is nothing else of which he has to be afraid. His desire for companionship is satisfied by his dividing himself into two parts which are then called husband and wife.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Teachings on Rebirth

The Self, having in dreams enjoyed the pleasures of sense, gone hither and thither, experienced good and evil, hastens back to the sate of waking from which he started.

As a man passes from dream to wakefulness, so does he pass at death from this life to the next. When a man is about to die, the subtle body, mounted by the intelligent Self groans – as a heavily laden cart groans under its burden.

When this body becomes thin through old age or disease, the dying man separates himself from his limbs, even as a mango or a fig or a banyan fruit separates itself from its stalk, and by the same way that he came he hastens to his new abode and there assumes another body, in which to begin a new life. (Chapter 4:3:33-36)

As a leech, having reached the end of a blade of grass, takes hold of another blade and draws itself to it, so the Self, having left this body behind it unconscious, takes hole of another body and draws himself to it. (Chapter 4:4:3)

As a goldsmith, taking an old gold ornament, molds it into another, newer and more beautiful, so the Self, having given up the body and left it unconscious, takes on a newer and better form, either that of the fathers, or that of the celestial singers, or that of the gods, or that of other beings, heavenly or earthly. (Chapter 4:4:4)

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad on the eternal glory of the knower of Brahman

This, then, is the eternal glory
of the knower of Brahman!
It does not increase nor decrease
as a result of action!
Therefore, one should know the nature of That,
and of That alone!
After having known That,
one is no longer affected by evil actions.
Thus he who knows That as such
has absolute mastery over his senses;
he is calm, recollected, patient and concentrated.
He sees the Self in his own (body) –
He sees all as the Self.
Evil cannot dominate him:
It is he who is beyond all evil!
Evil cannot disturb him:
It is he who absorbs all evil.
He is without sin and without stain;
he is for ever freed from doubt –
He is a true brahmana! Brihadaranyaka Upanishad  (IV, 4, 23)