Svetasvatara Upanishad - Chap 2 Invocation to Savitr (The Sun) and Practice of Yoga

Mantra 5

yuje vā brahma pūrvya namobhir vi śloka etu pathyeva sūre /
śṛṇvanti viśve amtasya putrā ā ye dhāmāni diviyāni tasthu // 2.5 //

O senses and O deities who favor them! Through salutations I unite myself with the eternal Brahman, who is your source. Let this prayer sung by me, who follow the right path of the Sun, go forth in all directions. May the sons of the Immortal, who occupy celestial positions, hear it! 

This is one of the important Mantras of this Upanishad as it refers to the entire human race as ‘amritasya putrah’ - sons of immortality showcasing all the humans as divine. Swami Vivekananda elaborated this Mantra and its ideas at the Parliament of Religions held in 1893 at Chicago. This Mantra is important for another reason also as it blends the concepts of bhakti- devotion and jnana - knowledge which is the unique feature of this Upanishad as stated earlier.

This Mantra describes the final stage of evolution of the seeker. This final stage is Samadhi and the coming down to the relative plane of existence after Samadhi. Samadhi is the state where the seeker’s absorption in Brahman is complete by following the right path of Knowledge.

The seeker salutes the sense organs and their presiding deities by whose grace he is able to concentrate and attain Brahman. It is because of the tranquility of mind and organs he could experience Brahmic Consciousness which would have been impossible had there been no such stillness. (State of sthitha prajna in the language of Bhagavad Gita).

With that tranquility the seeker now feels that the whole empirical universe is the manifestation of Brahman. No longer would the mind, senses, the individual and the phenomenal world remain as separate existence. Hence the tranquility of mind and senses is the golden path which the seeker travels from the beginning of sadhana till its end.  In the beginning stage the seeker realizes the oneness or the immanence of God because of his feeling of bhakti and when his mind and senses become completely calm he sees the transcendental aspect of God i.e. goes beyond names and forms through jnana. It should not be overlooked that in both these stages tranquility of mind and senses is a fundamental requisite of Sadhana.

Now the stage after Samadhi is taken up. At this stage the seeker feels everything in the world as Divine. Hence he says “let this truth be known to all the amritasya putrah, all the sons of immortality and spread in the four corners of the world; let this hymn in the form of prayer of what I have realized become intense and spread over the whole world”.

Mantra 6

agnir yatrābhimathyate vāyur yatrādhirudhyate /
somo yatrātiricyate tatra sajāyate mana // 2.6 //

If sacrifices are performed without first propitiating the Sun, then the mind becomes attached to sacrifices in which fire is kindled by the rubbing of the pieces of fire-wood, the oblations are offered to the deity Vayu and the soma juice is drunk excessively. 

We have seen in the previous Mantras that the essential attitude in the Sadhana is the control of mind and organs. Right attitude leads to Samadhi or Mukti or Liberation.  If this right attitude is lacking then Samsara or life of enjoyment will be the result. “Mind is born when the routine or automatism is broken”.-Dr.S.Radhakrishnan.

Philosophically viewed, if subject-object consciousness (I and Mine attitude) remains in Sadhana the result is Bhoga or enjoyment. If the Sadhana is devoid of subject-object attitude then it leads to Liberation. So the tremendous importance to the attitude of mind is prescribed for Sadhana by condemnation of the attitude based on ignorance.

Another interpretation of this Mantra is as follows. The aspirant should first perform the sacrifices and other rituals prescribed in the Vedas. Then he should practice breath-control and other disciplines of Yoga, cultivate meditation and finally realize the meaning of Mahavakyas like ‘Thou art that’ and ‘The Atman is Brahman’ and so on. Thus in the end he will attain Bliss and the Highest Good.


Mantra 7

savitrā prasavena jueta brahma pūrvyam /
tatra yoni kṛṇavase nahi te pūrtam akipat // 2.7 //

Serve the eternal Brahman with the blessings of the Sun, the cause of the universe. Be absorbed, through Samadhi, in the eternal Brahman. Thus your work will not bind you. 

The sage concludes this topic here emphasizing the importance of performing work with the right attitude as opposed to merely performing work taking the world and the work to be real as such. Right attitude means desirelessness and right perceptions. For example, if one perceives a woman as a woman his reactions will be different from that when he perceives her as a manifestation of the Divine Mother; the one leads to bondage and the other to Moksha. The Mantra suggests that a spiritual seeker should seek the blessings of Savita who is the source of the Universe and concentrate on that eternal Brahman. This will save him from being drawn into worldly activities and entanglements. “As fire, well kindled, reduces wood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of Knowledge reduce all works to ashes”. (Bhagavad Gita 4.37)


Mantra 8

trirunnata sthāpya sama śarīra hdīndriyāi manasā saniveśya /
brahmoupena pratareta vidvān srotāsi sarvāi bhayāvahāni // 2.8 //

The wise man should hold his body steady, with the three upper parts erect, turn his senses, with the help of the mind, toward the heart and by means of the raft of Brahman cross the fearful torrents of the world. 

In the previous Mantras the seeker was advised about concentration and meditation on Brahman. Now how this can be brought about in practical life through practice of Yoga is taken up. First about the body postures, the teacher says that the body should be held steady and the three parts viz., chest, neck and head should be held erect. Then, by using the mind to control senses, thoughts should be directed toward the heart which is believed to be the abode of Brahman where one feels very vividly the presence of the Spirit. Thereafter, repeating and meditating on the meaning of the sacred syllable AUM (which this Mantra refers to as Brahman - brahma sabdam pranavam varnayanti - Sankara) are prescribed. By following this procedure, the unenlightened life of the world sustained by desires, ignorance, actions, which make the person, assume various bodies in the repeated cycle of birth and death and which prolongs the suffering in the phenomenal world can be crossed over.

This is suggested in the Bhagavad Gita also as under:

samam kaayashirogreevam dhaarayannachalam sthirah
samprekshya naasikaagram swam dishashchaanavalokayan  // 6.13 //
prashaantaatmaa vigatabheer brahmachaarivrate sthitah
manah samyamya macchitto yukta aaseeta matparah  // 6.14 //

“Let him firmly hold his body, head and neck erect and still, gazing at the tip of his nose without looking around, serene minded, fearless, firm in the vow of Brahmacharya, having controlled the mind, thinking on Me and balanced, let him sit in yoga, having Me as the Supreme goal”.

The teacher of this Upanishad recommends the disciplines of Patanjali Yoga Sutras for the attainment of Samadhi in which the Knowledge of Brahman is directly realized. Mere intellectual knowledge gives only an indirect perception of Reality. (Note: For a detailed exposition on Patanjali Yoga Sutras, the reader may refer to the author’s articles entitled “Patanjli Yoga Sutras” and “A Note on the Concept of Yoga in Patanjali Yoga Sutras”

Mantra 9

prāān prapīyeha sa yuktaceṣṭa kīne prāe nāsikayocchvasīta /
duṣṭāśvayuktam iva vāham ena vidvān mano dhārayetāpramatta // 2.9 //

The yogi of well regulated endeavors should control the pranas; when they are quieted he should breathe out through the nostrils. Then let him undistractedly restrain his mind, as a charioteer restrains his vicious horses.

Pranayama or the control of the breath by regulating inhaling, exhaling and withholding of breath, which helps to steady the mind in the contemplation of Brahman, is elaborated in this Mantra. Sankara says pranayama is not the goal but the means for controlling the mind just as a charioteer is the means for controlling the unruly horses of a chariot.

The Bhagavad Gita 5.27 and 28 say “Shutting out all external contacts and fixing the gaze as though between the eye-brows, equalizing the outgoing and incoming breath moving within the nostrils, with senses, mind and intellect ever controlled, having liberation as his Supreme Goal, free from desire, fear and anger - the sage is verily liberated for ever”.

Receive Site Updates