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Knowledge Of King Brihadratha From Maitrayaniya Upanishad

A king named Brihadratha, having established his son as the king and considering this body as impermanent, became dispassionate and went into the forest. There he performed severe austerities and stood with uplifted arms gazing at the sun. At the end of a thousand days, the honourable knower of Atman, Shakayanya, blazing like fire without smoke, came near the ascetic. He said to Brihadratha, ‘Arise, arise, ask for a boon.’

Brihadratha saluted Shakayanya and said, ‘O Revered sage, I don’t know the Self. We have heard that you know the Self. Please tell us about the Self.’ Shakayanya replied, ‘Such things were discussed in the past. This question is very difficult to answer, O Aikshvaka, ask some other desired thing.’ Touching the feet of Shakayanya with his head, Brihadratha uttered these words.

O Revered sage, in this foul-smelling, inconsequential body, which is a mass of bones, skin, muscle, marrow, flesh, semen, blood, mucus, tears, rheum, faeces, urine, wind, bile, and phlegm, what is the point of enjoying desires? In this body afflicted with desire, anger, greed, delusion, fear, despondency, envy, separation from the desired, union with the undesired, hunger, thirst, old age, death, disease, sorrow, and the like, what is the point of enjoying desires?

And we see the whole universe perishing like these gnats, mosquitoes, and the like, and the grass and trees that grow and perish. But what of these? There are others who are superior. Some mighty archers and emperors like Sudyumna, Bhuridyumna, Indradyumna, Kuvalayashva, Yauvanashva, Vaddhriyashva, Ashvapati, Shashabindu, Harishchandra, Ambarisha, Nanaktu, Saryati, Yayati, Anaranya, Ukshasena, and others. And other kings like Marutta and Bharata. With all their kith and kin looking on, they have left their great glory and have gone from this world into the next. We also see the destruction of celestial artists, demons, spirits, ogres, ghosts, demigods, goblins, snakes, and imps that seize children.

In such a world, what is the point of enjoying desires? For one who feeds on the desires is seen to return to this world repeatedly. Be pleased to deliver me. In this cycle of transmigratoriness, I am like a frog in a waterless well.

Then, revered Shakayanya, who was very pleased, said to the king: Now, It which, without stopping the respiration, goes upwards and who, moving about, yet unmoving, dispels darkness – That is the Atman. For thus has it been said: ‘Then this one who is fully serene, rising up from this body and reaching the highest light, remains established in his true nature. This is the Atman. This is immortal. This is beyond all fear. This is Brahman.