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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Upanishads > Sri Kathopanisad > Chapter 2

Chapter 2


Part 4

Mantra 1

paranci khani vyatrinat svayambhus

tasmat paran pashyanti nantaratman

kashcid dhirah pratyagatmanam aikshad

avrita-cakshur amritatvam icchan



(Yama said:) The Self Existent Lord subdued the bodily apertures (the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, genital and anus of certain sages) and thus they saw not outward things but the soul within. Some of those sober individuals, desiring eternal life, disregarded (the objects of the senses) and beheld the Indwelling Lord.



Firstly Yama promised to tell Naciketa about the Supreme Spirit, and then about the condition of the jiva after death. This he did in order to distinguish between the two. The jiva is subordinate to the superior and inferior energies of God and its obscured – in contact with the Lord’s inferior energy  - at the time of deep sleep, universal flood etc. The Lord, however, is always alert, even though His though His dislocated parts be unconscious. That same Supreme Being enters the heart along with the jiva, like a jailor entering a jail with a felon without being subject to imprisonment himself. Those sols who earnestly strive for their release from material bondage obtain the grace of the Lord, and He kindly suppresses the urges of their senses, permitting them to concentrate inwardly and to catch a glimpse of Him at last.


Mantra 2

paracah kaman anuyanti balas

te mrityor yanti vitatasya pasham

atha dhira amritatvam viditva

dhruvam adhruveshv-iha na prarthayante



Childish fools pursue external desires and they enter the wide spread cords of death. Thus the sages, having comprehended the liberated condition, never pray for the temporary things of this world.


Mantra 3

yena rupa rasam gandham

shabdan sparshagmsh ca maithunan

etenaiva vijanati atra parishishyata etad vaitad



By Him (it is ordained that one perceives)for, taste, smell, sound, touch and sexual pleasure; one is cognisant by the (decree of the) Godhead even. Does He retain His individuality here (in the realm of the liberated souls)? Indeed He does!


Mantra 4

svapnantam jagaritantam

cobhau yenanupashyati

mahantam vibhum atmanam

matva dhiro na shocati



By His decree one perceives the states of sleep and wakefulness. Having realised that Almighty Supreme Soul, the Personality of Godhead, the resolute sage does not lament.


Mantra 5

ya idam madhvadam veda

atmanam jivam antikat

ishanam bhuta-bhavasya

na tato vijugupsata etad vai tat



He who knows Him relishes nectar, the Supreme Soul, who is always near the jiva (within the heart), who is the Controller of that which was and that which will be, never again feels the need to protect himself from danger (i.e. he becomes fearless).Indeed, that is so!


Mantra 6

yah purvam tapaso’jatam

adbhyah purvam ajayata

guham pravishya tishthantam

yo bhutebhir vyapashyata etad vaitat



He who generated the unborn (Brahma) prior to the Lord of Penance (Siva) and prior to the waters (and other such elements of the mundane universe – that Personality of Godhead) has entered the heart cavity (of the embodied souls)and remains there, and He perceives (all things) together with the material ingredients. Veruly, this is so!



Madhvacarya says, “Vishnu dwells in the heart. He is the great warrior, who constantly sees Himself seated in the heart of the living being, surrounded by the Devas of the material elements. He created the four-headed Brahma; He is the primeval Unborn Lord, who existed before the watery elements and the demigods thereof, and He existed even before Siva, the lord of asceticism.”

Lord Brahma, the deputed creator of the material universe, is called purvam ajatam, for he was born prior to Lord Siva and all others in this world. He was born from the lotus that sprouted from the navel of Lord Vishnu, and from his mouth were born Indra, Agni and others. They subsequently were reborn from the loins of Prajapati Kashyapa and thus cannot be called purvam ajatam.



Mantra 7

ya pranena samvishaty

aditir devatamayi

guham pravishya tishthantim

ya bhutebhir ajayata etad vaitat



He who enters (the heart) along with the vital air (prana), who is Aditi (the Eater or Destroyer of the universe) and the shelter of the Devas – (that Personality of Godhead) enters the cavity and remains there, and He manifests Himself  through the material elements (as various avataras). That is so, verily, it is so!



It might be thought that this mantra describes Aditi, the mother of the demigods, but it hardly seems likely that Yama would introduce a subject unrelated to Naciketa’s question regarding the Supreme Being. Madhvacarya therefore states that the name Aditi is derived from the root ad which means ‘eat’, in this case. It is true that the verse is expressed in a feminine gender, but from the context one can easily understand that it refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the original male. The incarnations assumed by the Lord through the agency of material nature are enumerated in any number of authoritative scriptures. Those that are prominent are His incarnation as a great fish, as a divine tortoise, as a titanic boar, as the man-lion-Nrisimha, as the dwarf –Vamana, as the annihilator of the depraved kings – Parashurama, as the slayer of ten-headed Ravana, as Baladeva and so on. Ultimately, all these avataras, including four-armed Narayana, are plenary spiritual emanations from Krishna, who is Govinda, Syamasundara etc. and who is the original Personality of Godhead.


Mantra 8

aranyor nihito jataveda

garbha iva subhrito garbhinibhih

dive dive idyo jagrivadbhir

havishmadbhir manushyebhir agnir etad vaitat



The omniscient Lord is kept (secret) between the guru and the disciple just as the embryo is carefully protected by the pregnant mother. Day by day this sacred fire (the fire of the Naciketa yajna) is adored by men who are spiritually awake and who offer clarified butter and so forth therein. It is so, indeed it is so!



The word aranyoh refers to the two fire-sticks or aranis that are used to generate the sacred fire, which is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord Hari. The preceptor and disciple are compared to a pair of aranis  because their coming together invokes the presence of Godhead in the same way that the friction produced by the rubbing of the two

fire-sticks invokes the presence of the sacred fire. Since the ontology of the Supreme Lord Vishnu-Krishna, is not revealed to the faithless, and one may understand Him only if one seeks refuge of a bona-fide preceptor, He may be said to be a well guarded secret kept between the guru and his disciple.


Mantra 9

yatash codeti suryo’stam yatra ca gacchati

tam devah sarve’rpitas tad u natyeti kashcana etad vaitat



All the demigods are fixed in Him from whom the sun has arisen (at the time of creation) and in whom it sets (at the time of annihilation). Verily, no one can surpass Him. Indeed this is so!


Mantra 10

yad eveha tad amutra

yad amutra tad anv-iha

mrityoh sa mrityum apnoti

ya iha naneva pashyati



Whatever (forms the Lord takes or activities He performs) within this world are (identical to His forms and activities) in Vaikuntha. Similarly, whatever (He does) in Vaikuntha He does (when He appears) in this world. One who sees (the Lord in Vaikuntha) as distinct from (His various incarnations) in this world has to suffer the pangs of death again and again.



There is no distinction between the Lord in the spiritual world and the Lord in this material sphere when He incarnates as His various avataras. Some philosophers declare the avataras of the Godhead to be tainted manifestations of the original Brahman, who they reckon to be devoid of any attributes denoting personality or activity. Such foolish propositions are refuted herein, where it is clearly stated that  the Lord of Vaikuntha, the Spiritual Sky, is non-different from the Lord when He manifests Himself in the material universe. Within this world, He shows Himself as a possessor of unique bodily form, entourage, paraphernalia and exploits. In Vaikuntha He also possesses bodily form, entourage, and so on. He is neither corrupted nor diminished in any way when He descends into this world. And the impersonal soul which is thought to be the ultimate entity by the monists is but His spiritual halo. Those of limited intellect, who see the Supreme Soul in the spiritual realm as different from the Lord who see the Supreme Soul in the spiritual realm as different from the Lord who appears in this world as the Tortoise, Boar, Fish, and Man-lion, as Ramacandra, Parashurama, Buddha, Kalki and so forth, are condemned to suffer repeated birth and death in the ghastly penitentiary of the world of matter.


Mantra 11

manasaivedam aptavyam

neha nanasti kimcana

mrityo sa mrityum gacchati

ya iha naneva pashyati



By means of th emind (purified by yoga) may this be understood: that there is no difference whatsoever between the Lord when He descednds to this world (and the Lord in His transcendental abode). From death to death goes he who looks upon the avataras of the Lord as different (from the Lord in Vaikuntha).



Whoever makes any distinction between the various plenary portions of the Lord that appear in this world an dthe Lord as He is in Vaikuntha is condemned to darkness and the repetition of birth and death. Even the limbs of His transcendental body are not to be differentiated in any way. The nature of the Lords body is epitomized in the Brahma Samhita (5.32):


angani yasya akalendriya-vritti-manti

pashyanti panti kalayanti ciram jaganti


govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami


“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, whose transcendental form is full of bliss, truth, and substantiality, and is thus full of the most dazzling splendour.each of the limbs of that transcendental figure possesses in Himself, the  full-fledged functions of all the organs, and eternally sees, maintains and manifests the infinite universes, both spiritual and material.”


Mantra 12

angushtha –matrah purusho

madhya atmani tishtati

ishano bhuta-bhavasya

na tato vijugupsata etad vaitat



The Supreme Personality of Godhead stands in the middle portion of the body (in the region of the heart) with the form the measure of a thumb.(One who realises Him in this manifestation) does not thenceforth fear for himself. That is so, verily, it is so!



A full description of this thumb-sized form of the Lord is to be found in the Srimad Bhagavatam (2.2.8-12): “(They) conceive of the Personality of Godhead as residimng within the body in the region of the heart and measuring only eight inches, with four hands carrying a lotus, a whell of a chariot, a conchshell and a club respectively. His mouth expresses happiness. His eyes are spread like lotus petals, and His garments are yellowish like the saffron of a kadamba flower and are bedecked with valuable jewels. His lotus feet  are placed over a whorl of the lotus-like hearts of great mystics. On His chest there is the kaustubha jewel engraved with a beautiful calf, and there are other jewels on His shoulders, and His complete torso is garlanded with fresh flowers. He is well decorated with an ornamental wreath about His waist and rings on His fingers studded with valuable jewels. His leglet, bangles, oiled hair curling with bluish tint, and His beautiful smiling face are all very pleasing. The Lords magnaminous pastimes and the glowing glance of His smiling face are all indications of His extensive benedictions. One must therefore concentrate on this transcendental form of the Lord, as long as the mind can be fixed on Him by meditation.”


Mantra 13

angushtha matrah purusho

jyotir ivadhumakah

ishano bhuta-bhavyasya

sa evadya sa u shva etad vaitat



The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who assumes a spiritual figure the size of a thumb, is the master of what was and what will be. He is thus today and, verily, will be thus tomorrow. Indeed, this is so!


Mantra 14

yathodakam durgo vrishtam

parvateshu vidhavati

evam dharman prithak pashyams

tan evanuvidhavati



Just as water that rains on the inaccessible summts of maountains runs down, so does one who looks upon the charateristics of the Lord as separate entities (from His spiritual essence) glide down (into darkness).



Water that falls on the tops of hills flows downwards with speed. So does one, who wishes to separate the essence of the Lord from His personal characteristics, by argument or belief, fall swiftly to the lower planes of darkness and ignorance.


Mantra 15

yathodakam shuddhe shuddham

asiktam tadrig eva bhavati

evam muner vijanata

atma bhavati gautama



Just as pure water showered upon pure water becomes similar in essence, so does the sage who comprehends the Supreme Soul become like Him in quality, O Gautama (Naciketa)



Pure water that is poured upon pure water increases the volume of the othe – thus, though it may merge with the reservoir of water, it does not become exactly identical with it. In t esame way, the self realised soul attains to a spiritual condition similar to that of the Supreme Lord, yet retains his individuality eternally. Naciketa’s query as to the separate existence of the Godhead and the liberated souls is hereby confirmed by Yama.




Part 5


Mantra 1

puram ekadasha-dvaram


anushtaya na shocati

vimuktash ca vimucyate etad vaitat



One who has firm faith that the unborn and pure hearted Godhead is the Overlord of the body, which has eleven gates (eyes, nose, ears, mouth, genital, anus, navel, and cranial suture), does not lament, and becomes liberated both in his present existence and after death.



The material body, like everything that be, is the property of the Supreme Lord, as is confirmed in Ishopanishad(mantra 1):


ishavasyam idagm sarvam

yat kinca jagatyam jagat


“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord.” One who has unwavering faith that the body, which is compared to a city with either nine or eleven gates, is the property of the Supreme Person and not of the embodied jiva, and who develops in himself humility and tolerance, is fit tfor liberation in his current life. Of course, such a goal cannot be achieved by one who is diverted by mundane allurements from his upward progress and whose faith is in consequence weak.


Mantra 2

hagmsah shuci-sad vasur antariksha-sad

dhota vedi- sad atithir durona-sad

nri-sad vara-sad rita-sad vyoma-sad abja

goja ritaja adrija ritam brihat



The Lord is Hamsa (free from faults and spiritual in essence), He resides in purity, He is the best of the blissful, He resides in the firmament, He is the possessor of great opulence, He resides in the soma vessal, He resides in (the hearts of ) men, He resides in the demigods, He resides in the Vedas, He resides in outer space, He is Lord of the aquatics, He is Lord of vegetation, He is Lord of the liberated souls, He is Lord of minerals (of those who practice penance in mountains), He is the Supreme Absolute Truth.



According to Madhva, the name ‘Hamsa’ is derived from the particles ha, which means hina (‘free’), m, which measn ‘eternally’, and from sa, which means sara (‘essence’). Thus the Lord is eternally free from imperfection and is spiritual in essence. The items mentioned above exemplify His presence in all things mightty and small, especially those things that are noted for their purity. He is also shown to be the Lord of the liberated souls about whom Naciketa has inquired.



Mantra 3

urdhvam pranam unnayati apanan pratyag asyati

madhye vamanam asinam vishvedeva upasate



He leads the prana upwards, He sends the apana down. In the middle of the body sits the thumb-sized Oversoul, whom all the demigods worship.



There are five kinds of vital air, or gas, which circulate within the body. Two of which are mentioned above. These movements of air are situated as follows:

1) in the pit of the stomach

2) in the region of the heart

3) in the pulmonary cavity

4) in the region of the palate

5) between the eyebrows

6) in the upper cranium


The prana is identified as the out-going breath, and the apana as the in-coming breath. In addition there are the airs called vyana, samana and udana. The inhalation and exhalation of the prana and apana is not merely a  physiological process, but according to the above, is directly controlled by the Supreme Lord, who enters the heart as the thumb-sized Supersoul and is adored by the most refined and exalted persons in creation. The five vital airs are said to converge within the heart and to provide a sitting place for the individual soul. The Mundakopanishad (3.1.9) describes the situation and the size of the jiva,  and its relationship with the five kinds of air:


esh’nuratma cetasa veditvyo

yasmin pranah pancadha samvivesha

pranaish cittam sarvam otam prajanam

yasmin vishuddhe vibhavaty esha atma


“The jiva-soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. The atomic soul, which is floating in the five kinds of air, is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entity. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.”



Mantra 4

asya visramsamanasya

sharirasthasya dehinah

dehad vimucyamanasya

kim atra parishishyate etad vai tat



(Naciketa asked:) when the embodied soul leaves the body and is liberated from the bodily condition, what remains? (Yama replied:) Verily, this is (the answer to)that.


Mantra 5

na pranena napanena

martyo jivati kashcana

itarena tu jivanti

yasminn etav upashritau



The embodied soul (who must undergo death) does not live because of the prana or the apana, but because of the Lord upon whom these two airs depend.



Lord Vishnu, who is sometimes called ‘Prana’, is the independent support of all jivas, not the material prana. They depend upon the Chief Prana for their existence.


Mantra 6

hanta ta idam pravakshyami

guhyam brahma sanatanam

yatha ca maranam prapya

atma bhavati gautama



Verily, I shall describe to you this indwelling, eternal Supreme Spirit, and what becomes of the embodied soul at death, O Gautama (Naciketa).



Mantra 7

yonim anye prapadyante

shariratvaya dehinah

sthanum anye’nusamyanti

yatha-karma yatha-shrutam



(Upon their demise most jivas) enter other wombs and thus obtain material bodies anew, while others enter inert substances. (They obtain bodily coverings) according to their deeds and he knowledge they have acquired.



As a rule, upon the demise of its current body, the jiva is transferred, by the superior arrangement of the Lord, to the womb, or other such organ, of one among the numerous species of organic inhabitants of the material realm. And those jivas whose store of merit is paltry are placed within inert bodies, such as stones and minerals. The hapless souls sojourn in such inconvenient tabernacles until the reactions to their past misdemeanours are incinerated by the fire of their suffering.


Mantra 8

ya esha supteshu jagarti kamam kamam purusho nirmanah

tad eva shukram tad-brahma tad evamritam ucyate

tasmin llokah shritah sarve tad u natyeti kashcana etad vai tat



That Supreme Personality of Godhead (the Purusha) who remains alert when the jivas are asleep (at the time ofuniversial inundation), who creates according to His desire – He alone is free from sorrow; He is the Supreme Spirit; He alone is called the deathless one; In Him are all the world situated. No one can surpass Him! Verily, this is so!



Even the creator, Brahma, succumbs to sleep, as is described in the Bhagavata Purana (3.11.22):



bahir abrahmano dinam

tavaty eva nisha tata

yan nimilati vishvasrik


“Outside the three planetary systems (Svarga, Martya and Patala), the four world-ages (yugas) multiplied by one-thousand comprise one day of the planet of Brahma. A similar period comprises a night of Brahma, in which the creator of the universe goes to sleep.”


The day of Brahma lasts for 4, 320, 000, 000 terrestrial years, and his night is of the same duration. As he sleeps heis instructed by Lord Vishnu, in a dream, in the reconstruction of the universe. Meanwhile, the numberless conditioned jivas are held in the grip of a deep, impeneterable slumber from which they are not aroused until the dawning of Brahmas next day. Thus the Lord remains alert when the jivas sleep. Another sense in which this is so is that the Lord is never influenced by His own deluding potency, maya, which puts the jivas in the sleep of ignorance of their true spiritual identity. The Lord confirms His superiority to all other beings in the Bhagavad-gita (7.7):


mattah parataram nanyat

kincid asti dhananjaya

mayi sarvam idam protam

sutre manigana iva


“O conqueror of wealth, there is no entity whatsoever that is superior to Me (Krishna). Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung upon a thread.”


Mantra 9

agnir yathaiko bhuvanam pravishto

rupam rupam pratirupo babhuva

ekas tatha sarva-bhutantaratma

rupam rupam pratirupo bahish ca



Fire, though one, enters the mundane worlds and expands its sentient form into many forms. Similarly, the Supersoul who resides in the hearts of all living beings expands His one form into many, many forms, and the jiva (whom He accompanies) is a separated form of the Lord.


Mantra 10

vayur yathaiko bhuvanam pravishto

rupam rupam pratirupo babhuva

ekas tatha sarva-bhutantaratma

rupam rupam pratirupo bahish ca



The air, though one, enters the mundane worlds and expands its sentient form into many forms. Similarly, the Supersoul who resides in the hearts of all living beings expands His one form into many, many forms, and the jiva (whom He accompanies) is a separated form of the Lord.



The demigod Agni, the controller of fire, has both sentient and insentient forms. His form as a Deva is expanded throughout the material worlds, and the insentient counterparts of these forms are also present there in the shape of fire for cooking, manufacturing and so forth. In a similar fashion, the Supreme Lord expands Himself throughout the universe as the Supersoul, with the jivas as His dislocated counter-forms, and He acts as the support of nature and witness to the bound-souls’ deeds. A similar analogy is found in the Brahma Samhita (5.46):


dipacir eva hi dashantaram abhyupetya

dipayate vivrita-hetu-samana-dharma

yas tadrig eva hi ca vishnutaya vibhati

govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami


“The light of one candle being communicated to other candles, althoug it burns separately in them, is the same in its quality. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda who exhibits Himself equally in the same manner in His various Vishnu expansions.”


Mantra 11

suryo yatha sarva-lokasya cakshur

na lipyate cakshushair bahya-doshaih

ekas tatha sarva-bhutantaratma

na lipyate loka-duhkena bahya



Just as the sun, who is the eye of all conditioned souls, is not contaminated by the disease of their external organs of sight, so is the Supersoul, who resides within the hearts of all living beings, not contaminated by the worldly miseries of the conditioned souls.



The Kurma Purana declares the external organ of vision to be the reflection of the deity of the sun. just as the deva of the sun is not contaminated by diseases of the external organs of sight, so is the Supreme Person free from any impurity that may be contracted by the jiva, who is merely the reflection of His consciousness. Madhva states that the jiva, which is a reflection of the Godhead, is distinct from Him because it is bahir, or external to Him.


Mantra 12

eko vashi sarva-bhutantaratma

ekam rupam bahudha yah karoti

tam atmastham ye’nupashyanti dhiras

tesham sukham shashvatam netaresham



He is one without a second, He is the Overlord, He is the indwelling Superdoul of all living creatures; He it is who makes His one transcendental form into many. Those sober-minded persons who see Him in the body (as the Oversoul within the heart) alone possess unending bliss, not others.


Mantra 13

nityo’nityanam cetanash cetananam

eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman

tam atmastham ye’nupashyanti dhiras

tesham shantih shashvatam netaresham



The Lord is the eternal amongst eternals, He is the cognition of the  conscious, He is One among the many; He it is who fulfills the desires (of His constituent parts). Those sober-minded persons who see Him in the body (as the Oversoul within the heart) alone attain unending tranquility, not others.



This mantra proves that the Supreme Lord is one and the individual souls are many. The word nityah (‘eternal being’) has the singular termination, and the word nitya-nam (‘among eternal beings’) is expressed in the bahuvacana, or plural. Naciketa had heard that there I sone person (asti) distinguished from the many in the liberated state – i.e. that one Supreme Being was the predominator of the plurity of liberated souls – and this is corroborated herewith.


Mantra 14

tad etad iti manyate

’nirdeshyam paramam sukham

katham nu tad vijaniyam

kim u bhati vibhati va



(The wise) think, “This is so (Vishnu is he Oversoul of the individual souls), He is (the embodiement of ) indescribable supreme spiritual bliss.” How can I know that Vishnu form (without His grace)? (Naciketa asked:) “Can it be entirely known?” (Yama replied:) “It cannot be fully known.”



The following is found in the Kenopanishad (2.2.3):


naham manye suvedeti no na vedeti veda ca

yo nas tad veda tad veda no na vedati veda ca


yasya matam tasya matam matam yasya na veda sah

avijnatam vijnanatam vijnatam avijnanatam


(Brahma said:) “I do not think, ‘I know Him well’, but neither do I say I know Him not at all. One among us who thinks, “I fully comprehend Him,” does not know Him, while one who thinks, ‘I do not fully comprehend Him’ knows Him indeed. One who thinks that the Supreme Being is inconceivable is correct in his opinion, and one who thinks he has conceived of Him knows Him not. Those who think themselves realised are not realised; those who do not think themselves realised are realised.”


Mantra 15

na tatra suryo bhati na candra-tarakam

nema vidyuto bhanti kuto’yam agnih

tam eva bhantam anubhati sarvam

tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati



That (form of Vishnu) is not illuminated by the sun, nor by the moon or starlight, nor even by electrical illumination, what to speak of illumination by fire. Everything that shines reflects His radiance; because of His radiance do all luminous things shine forth.






Part 6


Mantra 1



esho’shvatthah sanatanah

tad eva shukram tad brahma

tad evamritam ucyate

tasmin llokah shritah sarve

tad u natyeti kashcana

etad vaitat



The Lord stands as the highest root of the inverted, endless ashvattha tree (or holy fig tree, that analogously forms the material manifestation). That Vishnu (the root of the universal tree) is spotless; He is the Supreme Spirit; He is known as deathless; all the worlds are sheltered in Him; No one can surpass Him. Verily , this is so!



Lord Vishnu is the stay and origin of the universe which is compared to a tree. The lord is the root of the tree, or the ground upon which the tree grows, and the demigods are the branches of that tree. The universial treeis described in Bhagavad-gita (15.1-4) as follows:

“The Blessed Lord Said, “There is a banyan tree which has it’s roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas. The branches of this tree extend downwards and upwards, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. This tree also has its roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of human society. The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment. So doing, one must seek that place from which, having once gone, one never returns, and there surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”


Mantra 2

yad idam kimcana jagat sarvam prana ejati nihsritam

mahad-bhayam vajram udytam ya etad vidur amritaste bhavanti



The entire universe trembles in dread of the Prana because it is an emanation (from Lord Hari). He is terrible, like an upraised thunderbolt (weapon). Those who know Him to be such attain to immortality.



The word prana does not mean the breath of life in this context, but rather the energy of Lord Hari, Vishnu. The universe trembles in fear of this Hari which is called Prana because it has emanated from Him who is terrible and all-powerful.


Mantra 3

bhayad asyagnis tapati

bhayat tapati suryah

bhayad indrash ca vayush ca

mrityur dhavati pancamah



Out of fear of the Lord, Agni generates heat. Out of fear of the Lord,Surya generates heat. Out of fear, Indra (sends rain), Vayu (makes the wind gust) and Yama, the fifth (demigod mentioned here), runs (to perform his appointed labours)!


Mantra 4

iha ced ashakad bodhum

prak sharirasya vishrasah

tatah svargeshu lokeshu

shariratvaya kalpate



If, in this life, one is able to understand (these spiritual truths) before one’s material  body collapses, then one will attain a spiritual body in Vaikuntha.



If one arrives at the proper philosophical conclusion with regard to the Supreme Lord and His constituent parts in this life, then one is liberated from material imprisonment and attains a spiritual body in the Spiritual Sky, Vaikuntha. Sankara tries to cover the clear message of this mantra by substituting the word sargeshu (‘in the material worlds’) for svargeshu (‘in the spiritual worlds, Vaikuntha). Why would proper knowledge cause the perpaetuation of one’s bondage, as he would have us think, by one being born again in this material world?


Mantra 5

yathadarshe tathatmani yatha svapne tatha pitriloke

yathapsu pariva dadrshe tatha gandharvaloke

chayatapayoh brahmaloke



As in a looking glass (the reflection is clearly seen), so in the (liberated) jiva (is spirit fully reflected ). As in slumber (is reality somewhat reflected), so it is in Pitriloka (the world of the manes). As in water (a clearer reflection is seen), so is spirit more clearly seen in the world of the Gandharvas. As it is in normal light and shade (in the daytime), so (is spirit clearly seen) in Brahmaloka.



The Brahmaloka referred to here is the Spiritual Region, where analogous light and shade are to be found. On a normal sunny day an object and its attributes can easily be descried. An object in complete, or even partial darkness, cannot be properly made out, nor an object placed in overwhelming, glaring light. The manifestaions and character of Spirit is full-fledged in the Spiritual Sky.


Mantra 6

indriyanam -prithag bhavam

udayas-tamayau ca yat

prithag utpadymananam

matva dhiro na shocati



Knowing the individual nature of the senses, the arising and destruction (of the material universe) and the different modes of generation – knowing this the steady-minded do not grieve.


Mantra 7-8

indriyebhyah param manah

manasah sattvam-uttamam

sattvad adhi mahan-atma

mahato’vyaktam –uttamam


avyaktat tu parah purusho

vyapako’linga eva ca

yaj jnatva mucyate jantur

amrtatvam ca gaccjati



The mind is superior to the senses and the mode of goodness (sattva or buddhi) is superior to the mind. The materail conglomerate (the Mahat-tattva) is superior to sattva and unmanifest Brahman I ssuperior to the Mahat. Higher still than unmanifest Brahman is the Purusha, the Personality of Godhead, who is all-pervading (by reason of His umlimited spiritual extensions) and who is devoid of material characteristics. Upon understanding this, the individual soul is liberated from material existence and

attains deathlessness.



According to Madhvacarya the above is stated, not merely as a matter of interest, but as knowledge essential to one’s salvation. One must know Lord Sri Vishnu, or Krishna, to be transcendental to all the manifestaions of material energy, and superior to th ehost of Devas. Any misconception in this regard is positively injurious to one’s spiritual well-being.


Mantra 9

na samdrise tishthati  rupam asya

na cakshusa pashyati kashcanainam

hrida manisha manasabbhiklripto

ya etad vidur amritas te bhavanti



His transcendental form is not observable by materail means; it cannot be seen by anyone’s physical eye. But it may be known by th emind of one who is endowed with heartfelt devotion and intelligence. They who know this attain to immortality.



The devotee of the Krishna can behold the gorgeous, transcendental form of the Lord, whose sitting place is the heart, by means of eyes purified by love, as it is confirmed by the Brahma Samhita (5.38)-



santah sadaiva hridyeshu vilokayanti

yam shyamasundaram acintya-guna-svarupam

govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami


“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who si Syamasundara, Krishna Himself, with inconceivable, innumerable attributes, who the pure devotees see in their heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love.”


Mantra 10

yada pancavatishthante

jnanani manasa saha

buddhish ca na viceshtati

tam ahuh paramam gatim



When the five senses(the organs by which knowledge is acquired) are held in check, together with the mind, and the intelligence is not overactive – such a condition is called the highest goal.



Control of the senses, mind and intelligence are prerequisite to the attainment of devotion.


Mantra 11

tam yogam iti manyate

sthiram indriya-dharanam

apramattas tada bhavati

yogo hi prabhavapyayau



They consider that state to be yoga wherein the senses are firmly kept restrained. When (one practices such restraint) he becomes vigilant. Yoga is undoubtedly the connection with Him who is the origin and the destruction of all things.


Mantra 12

naiva vaca na manasa

praptum shakyo na cakshusha

astiti bruvato’nyatra

katham tad upalabhyate



He cannot be attained by speech, nor the mind, nor by the physical eye. He is to be be had from one who can positively speak to Him (i.e. from the bona-fide preceptor), who calls Him ‘the Supreme Being’, and from none other. How else can He be obtained?



The bona-fide spiritual master calls the Lord, Asti. The word asti consisits of two particles: a, meaning ‘great’, and sti, meaning exisitences; thus, ‘He who is greater than all existences’, or ‘the Supreme Being’. Since the Lord is not to be obtained by any ammount of mental exertion, nor by any effort of the physical senses, H emust be heard of from one who actually knows Him, i.e. the self-realised soul.



Mantra 13

asity evopalabdhavyas

yas tattva-bhavena cobhayoh

astity evopalabdhasya

tattva-bhavah prasidati



He can be obtained when thought of as the Supreme Being and then by Hi sown grace. And He becomes especially pleased by one who obtains Him by thinking of Him as the Supreme Being.



It may seem that the Lord gives knowledge of Himself when He is gratified with one, but obtaining His grace is dependent on one having knowledge of Him. If this were so, how would one get His grace in the first place? The answer, according to Madhva, is that some souls will already have some knowledge of the supremecy of Lord Vishnu when they first attain His mercy, while others will know nothing of Him at all. Those who had some knowledge from th eoutset have their wisdom increased by the Lord through successive births, and those who had none are gradually given what they lacked by Him. Such sagacity, once acquired, is never lost, and ignorance once conquered is never revived.


Mantra 14

yada sarve pramucyante

kama ye’sya hridi shritah

atha martyo’mrito’bhavaty

atra brahma samashnute



When all the materail desires that dwell in one’s heart are driven away, then one is no longer liable to die – one becomes immortal. In this condition one attains spiritual existence (on the level of Brahman).



The attaining to the level of Brahman, and the concomitant cessation of materail desire, are described in the Bhagavad-gita (18.54) –


brahma-bhutah prasannatma

na shocati na kanshati

samah sarveshu bhuteshu

mad-bhaktim labhate param


“One who is situated on the plane of transcendental existence becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed to all living beings. In that state he attains pure devotion to Me (Krishna).”



Mantra 15

yada sarve prabhidyante

hridayasyeha granthayah

atha martyo’mrito bhavaty

etavad anushasanam



When all the knots of attachment within the heart are cut asunder, then one is no longer laible to die – one becomes immortal. This is the instruction (of all the scriptures).


Mantra 16

shatam caika ca hridayasya nadyas

tasam murdhanam abhinihsritaika

tayordhvam ayann amritatvam eti

vishvanì anya utkramena bhavanti



There are a hundread and one channels from the heart (by which the soul may quit the body). Of that number, the cranial channel isthe one route by which the soul, travelling upwards, may attain to immortality. The other channels are for passing onto other worlds.


Mantra 17

aìgushta-matrah purusho’ntaratma

sada jananam hridaye samnivishtah

tam svac charirat pravrihen

munjad iveshikam dhairyena

tam vidyac chukram ritam tam

vidyac chukram amritam iti



(Yama concludes by saying:) The Supreme Personality of Godhead who possesses a thumb-sized form is always situated in the heart region of all living beings. One should distinguish the jiva (which is like unto the Lord’s body) from the Lord. They should be separated like a sheath and its pith. One should know the Lord to be spotless; He is the Absolute Truth. One should know the Lord to be spotless; He is deathless



With respect to the size of the Lord as He is encountered in the heart of the embodied jiva, the thumb referred to above is that of the body He dwells in. Thus the Oversoul, the Lord as witness, is a few inches in height by our bodily estimation. The thumb may also be taken to be the thumb of the jiva-body, which is atomic in size, and thus there is also a Supersoul who is smaller than the super-diminutive jiva. The minuscule dimension of the individual soul is confirmed by the Svetashvataropanishad (5.9):


balagra-shata-bhagasya shatadha kalpitasya ca

bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa canantyaya kalpate


“When the upper point of a hair is divided into one-hundred parts, and again each such part is further divided into one-hundred parts (making ten-thousand parts), each of such parts is the measurement of the dimension of the jiva.”


And lest it be suggested, as it sometimes is, that this penultimate mantra refer to the jiva,  (‘he is the Absolute Truth...’), then Madhva reminds us, as does the foregoing verse, that the jiva is not thumb-sized.

 Though the Godhead and the jiva both partake of the same spiritual nature, they are nevertheless substantially different: the Lord being infinite and omniscient, the jiva being infinitesimal and prone to incognizance. In terms of their cohabitation in the heart, we find the following in the Svetashvataropanishad (4.6-7) –


dva-suparna sayuja sakhaya

samanam vriksham parishasvajate

tayor anyah pippalam svadv-attyan

ashnann anyo abhicakashiti


samane vrikshe purusho nimagno

’nishaya shocati muhyamanah

jushtamm yada pashyaty anyam isham asya

mahimanam iti vita-shokah


“There are two birds (the Godhead and the jiva) who are related by ties of friendship and

who dwell together in the same tree (the body). One of them is relishing the fruit of

the tree while the other, who does not eat, looks on. In that tree, the person who is the

enjoyer is hopelessly engrossed in lamentation and perplexity. If he happens to espy the

Lord, however, and realises His glories,he becomes free from all anxiety.”


It is obvious from such verses as the above that the Supreme Soul and the individual soul should never be considered identical, as is the trend among the impersonalists. If one fails to distinguish between the greater and the lesser being, then one is condemned by one’s stupidity to suffer further under the whiplash of the materail energy.



Mantra 18

mrityu-proktam naciketo’tha labdhva

vidyam etam yoga-vidhim ca kritsnam

brahma-prapto virajo’bhud vimritur

anyo’pyevam yo vid adhyatmeva



Having obtained all this knowledge and the regulations of yoga by the instruction of Yama, Naciketa attained the spiritual platform, becoming free from passion and deathless. This is so for anyone who knows the science of the self.



Madhva closes by offering homage to Lord Vishnu. He declares himself to be the beloved apointee of the Lord, and the Lord to be the dearest of all those that are dear to Him.