Kena Upanishad Translation by Zaehner

R. C. Zaehner Translation

("By Whom Sent Forth, By Whom Impelled?")

I

1. By whom sent forth, [by whom] impelled soars forth the mind? By whom enjoined does the breath go forth, the first?
By whom impelled do men make loud this utterance?
Eye—ear: what god enjoins them?

2. Ear of the ear, mind of the mind,
Voice of the voice, He too is the breath of breath,
Eye of the eye: transcending [all] the wise,
Departing from this world, become immortal.

3. There no eye can penetrate,
No voice, no mind can penetrate:
We do not know, we do not understand
How one should teach it.

Other it is, for sure, than what is known,
Beyond [the scope of] the unknown too.
So have we heard from men of old who instructed us therein.

4. That which cannot be expressed by speech,
By which speech [itself] is uttered,
That is Brahmanknow thou [this]
Not that which is honored here as such.

5. That which thinks not by the mind,
By which, they say, the mind is thought,
That is Brahmanknow thou [this]
Not that which is honored here as such.

6. That which sees not by the eye,
By which the eyes have sight,
That is Brahmanknow thou [this]
Not that which is honored here as such.

7. That which hears not by the ear,
By which this ear is heard,
That is Brahmanknow thou [this]
Not that which is honored here as such.

8. That which breathes not by the breath,
By which breath is drawn in,
That is Brahmanknow thou [this]
Not that which is honored here as such.

II

[The teacher speaks:]
1. Shouldst thou think, "I know [It] well," now little indeed
thou knowest,a form of Brahman,what of It is thou, what
of It is among the gods. Think then upon It seriously.

[The pupil:]
I think I know It.

[The teacher:]
2. I do not think, "I know It well,"
I do not know, "I do not know";
He of us who knows It, knows It,
He does not know, "I know It not."

3. Who thinks not on It, by him It's thought:
Who thinks upon It, does not know,—
Un-understood by those who understand,
By those who understand not understood.

4. Known by an awakening It is seized upon by thought,
And so a man finds immortality:
By the Self one valor wins,
By wisdom immortality.

5. If one has known [It] here, then is there truth;
If one has here not known [It], great is the destruction:
Discerning It in each contingent being,
Wise men, departing from this world, become immortal.

III

1. Now Brahman won a victory for the gods, and the gods
were exulting in the victory of that Brahman. They thought:
"This victory belongs to us, this majesty belongs to us."
2. Brahman was well aware of what they [were thinking],
and so he made himself visible to them. They did not recognize
Him. "What is this strange creature (yaksha)?" they said.
3. They said to Agni, [the fire god]: "Jatavedas ['all-knowing'
or 'all-possessing'], look into this right away [and find out]
what this strange creature is."
"All right," said [Agni].
4. He ran off to Him, and He said to him, "Who are you?"
"I am Agni," he replied; "I am Jatavedas."
5. "Well, if that is so, what powers have you?"
"I could burn up everything here in this [whole wide] world!"
6. [Brahman] put a straw down in front of him and said,
"Burn that." He rushed at it at full speed, but could not burn it.
So he returned and said, "I could not find out what this strange creature was."
7. Then they said to Vayu, [the wind-god]: "Vayu, look into this right away
[and find out] what this strange creature is." "All right," said [Vayu].

8. He ran up to Him, and He said to him, "Who are you?"
"I am Vayu," he replied, "I am Matarishvan" ['He who extends himself
in the Mother or the Container,' Master of life]."
9. "Well, if that is so, what powers have you?"
"I could carry off everything here in this [whole wide] world."
10. [Brahman] put a straw down in front of him and said,
"Carry it off." He rushed at it at full speed but could not carry it off.
So he returned and said, "I could not find out what this strange creature was."
11. Then they said to Indra: "Naghavan ['bountiful'],
look into this right away [and find out] what this strange creature is. "
"All right," said [Indra].
He ran up to Him, but He disappeared from his sight.
12. In that very place he happened to meet a woman of great beauty,—
Uma [Shiva's consort in later tradition], Himavat's [Himalaya's] daughter;
and he asked her what that strange creature might be.

IV

1. She said: "It is Brahman, and it is in Brahman's victory
that you have been exulting." And straightway [Indra] understood
that it was Brahman.
2. That is why these [three] gods, Agni, Vayu and Indra,
rank rather higher than the other gods, for they came nearest
to touching Him, and it was they [and especially Indra] who
first understood that it was Brahman.
3. That is why Indra ranks rather higher than the other
gods, for he came nearest to touching Him and was the first
to understand that it was Brahman.

4. Now there is this description of Him: "Ah!"[what people say]
when the lightning flashes,"Ah!" as they blink their eyes.
So much for the sphere of the gods.
5. Now for the sphere of the [individual] self.
When [a thought] occurs to the mind and the mind recollects
repeatedly,—[this is] conceptual thought (Samkalpa).
6. [Brahman] is called tadvanam ["one who desires it"],
and as such should He be revered. All beings pine for the man
who has this knowledge.

7. [The pupil :] "Sir, tell me the secret doctrine (Upanishad)."

[The teacher:] "You have been told the secret doctrine.
We ourselves have told you the secret doctrine concerning Brahman.
8. "Its basis is ascetic practice, self-restraint, and works (karma),
the Vedas and all the treatises that depend on them (vedanga, or,
'the Vedas are all its limbs'). Truth is [its] dwelling place."
9. Whoever knows this [doctrine] in this way will vanquish evil
and find his home in the infinite, unconquerable (alveye)
world of heaven—[there] will he find his home.

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