Svetasvatara Upanishad - Chap 3 The Highest Reality


Mantra 3

viśvataścakur uta viśvatomukho viśvatobāhur uta viśvataspāt / 
saṃ bāhubhyāṃ dhamati saṃ patatrair dyāvābhūmī janayan deva ekaḥ // 3.3 //

His eyes are everywhere, His faces everywhere, His arms everywhere, everywhere His feet. He it is who endows men with arms, birds with feet and wings and men likewise with feet. Having produced heaven and earth, He remains as their non-dual manifester. 

We find this idea in the Bhagavd Gita also as under:  

sarvatah paanipaadam tat sarvato’kshishiromukham
sarvatah shrutimalloke sarvamaavritya tishtathi // 13.14 //

With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads and mouths everywhere, with ears everywhere he exists in the world, enveloping all.

The functioning of all the parts of the body in every human being is based on the Life Principle. The functions of perception, feeling and thinking work out only so long as there is life in the body. A person is said to be alive when the Principle of Consciousness rules over his functioning through his various instruments of action and knowledge. (This is not to be confused with the medical theory stating that one can be alive despite losing consciousness as in the case of brain death).  This Consciousness behind every living being that which is common to all, is Paramatman, Para Brahman, the Supreme Self, which this Mantra refers to as the One God.

Hands and feet etc everywhere suggest the Principle of Consciousness pervading the entire universe. As the one subject of all objects of experience, He is said to envelop all and have hands and feet, ears and eyes everywhere. In the absence of the seeing light of consciousness there cannot be any experience at all.

The ignorant may see the diverse objects of the universe but wise will see in all of them only one reality, Brahman because for him names and forms, independent of Brahman, are all unreal. Isvara is Consciousness Itself and in this capacity of omniscient omnipresence He interacts with all beings.


Mantra 4

yo devānā prabhavaś codbhavaś ca viśvādhipo rudro mahari
hirayagarbha janayāmāsa pūrva sa no buddhyā śubhayā sayunaktu // 3.4 //

He, the omniscient Rudra, the creator of the gods and the bestower of their powers, the support of the universe, He who, in the beginning, gave birth to Hiranyagarbha-may He endow us with clear intellect! 

(This Mantra is repeated in Chapter 4.12)

This is a prayer to Rudra for obtaining a pure, auspicious and subtle intellect so that one  can realize Brahman. Rudra is described as maharshi- the omniscient seer, the creator of lesser cosmic powers such as Agni, Vayu etc., the sustainer of the universe and the creator of hiranyagarbha - Cosmic seed at the beginning of creation (Brahman).

These ideas and words are echoed in the Bhagavad Gita as under.

etadyoneeni bhootaani sarvaaneetyupadhaaraya
aham kritsnasya jagatah prabhavah pralayastathaa // 7.6 //

Know these two - My higher and lower natures - form the womb of all beings. Therefore, I am the origin and dissolution of the whole Universe.

gatirbhartaa prabhuh saakshee nivaasah sharanam suhrit
prabhavah pralayah sthaanam nidhaanam beejamavyayam // 9.18 //

I am the Goal, the Supporter, the Lord, the Witness, the Abode, the Shelter, the Friend, the Origin, the Dissolution, the Foundation, the Treasure-house and the Seed which is imperishable.

aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matwaa bhajante maam budhaa bhaavasamanvitaah  // 10.8 //

I am the origin of all, from Me everything evolves, understanding thus, the wise worship Me with all their heart.

Mantra 5

yā te rudra śivā tanūr aghorāpāpakāśinī /  
tayā nas tanuvā śatamayā giriśantābhicākaśīhi // 3.5 //

O Rudra, Your body which is auspicious, unterryfying, showing no evil - with that most benign body, O Dweller in the mountains, look upon us (manifest yourself) .

Siva is having two forms viz., one that is calm or benign (santa) and the other that is terrific (ghora). The prayer is for bringing the highest good or revealing only what is good with His kind glance, pure form without slightest trace of impurity and pleasing.

Mantra 6

yām iu giriśanta haste bibhary astave /
śivā giritra tā kuru mā hi purua jagat // 3.6 //

O Dweller in the mountains and Bestower of happiness, make benign that arrow which you hold in your hand ready to shoot, O Protector of the mountain! Do not injure man or other than human!

The wordings and ideas of Mantras 5 and 6 above are also occurring in the Anuvaka 1 of Rudra Prasna (Namakam). These are prayers to the Lord to withdraw His terrible form and shower upon the world His blessings.(Note: For a detailed exposition on Rudra Prasna the reader may refer to the author’s article entitled “Sri Rudra Prasna or Satarudriya -A Flag Post of Universality And Inclusiveness of Hinduism ”   appearing under the category ‘Vedas and Upanishads’ in this website).

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