Svetasvatara Upanishad - Chap 4 The One God of the Manifold World

Mantra 13
yo devānām adhipo yasmiṃl lokā adhiśritāḥ /
ya īśe asya dvipadaś catuṣpadaḥ kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema // 4.13 //

He who is the Lord of all the gods, in whom the worlds find their support, who rules over all two-footed and four-footed beings - let us serve that God, radiant and blissful, with an oblation. 

This is a prayer to the Lord, Brahman, offering all respects to Him.

Mantra 14

sūkṣmātisūkṣmaṃ kalilasya madhye viśvasya sraṣṭāram anekarūpaṃ /
viśvasyaikaṃ pariveṣṭitāraṃ jñātvā śivaṃ śāntim atyantam eti // 4.14 //

By realizing Him who is subtler than the subtlest who dwells in the midst of the chaos, who is the Creator of all things and is endowed with many forms, who is the  non-dual Pervader of the universe and all good - by realizing Him one attains the supreme peace. 

When the unity behind diversity is realized, we know the inner being of everyone and we then attain absolute peace and blessedness (santam atyantam). This is an echo of the Mantra 3.7 of this Upanishad which we studied earlier as under.

tata para brahma para bhanta yathānikāya sarvabhūteu gūha
viśvasyaika pariveṣṭitāram īśa ta jñātvāmtā bhavanti // 3.7 //

The Supreme Lord is higher than Virat, beyond Hiranyagarbha. He is vast and is hidden in the bodies of all living beings. By knowing Him, who alone pervades the universe, men become immortal.

Mantra 15

sa eva kāle bhuvanasya goptā viśvādhipaḥ sarvabhūteṣu gūḍhaḥ /
yasmin yuktā brahmarṣayo devatāś ca tam evaṃ jñātvā mṛtyupāśāṃś chinatti // 4.15 //

It is He who, in proper time, becomes the protector of the universe, the Lord of all, hidden in all things, and in whom the sages and the deities are united. Verily, by knowing Him thus one cuts asunder the fetters of death. 

The Supreme Lord who is being described continuously, preserves the existence of universe and is hidden as indweller in all beings. All the sages keep themselves engaged in meditating upon him. This way by knowing that Supreme God, one cuts all ties causing birth and death. He never comes under the bondage of Prakriti and gets emancipated.

Mantra 16
ghṛtāt paraṃ maṇḍam ivātisūkṣmaṃ jñātvā śivaṃ sarvabhūteṣu gūḍhaṃ /
viśvasyaikaṃ pariveṣṭitāraṃ jñātvā devaṃ mucyate sarvapāśaiḥ // 4.16 //

By knowing Him, the auspicious, hidden in all beings, like the film that rises to the surface of clarified butter, the sole Pervader of the universe, the God, one is released from all fetters.

The aspirant becomes free forever from all bondages by knowing the Lord who is subtle as a film on the clarified butter and who is supreme good for all, who is hidden in all beings and surrounding the entire world.

Mantra 17

eṣa devo viśvakarmā mahātmā sadā janānāṃ hṛdaye saṃniviṣṭaḥ /
hṛdā manīṣā manasābhikḷpto ya etad vidur amṛtās te bhavanti // 4.17 //

The creator of the world; great souled, the Supreme Lord, always seated in the heart of every one; he manifests himself by meditating through heart, intellect and mind; They who know Him become immortal. 

We have seen earlier under Mantra 3.13 in this Upanishad as under.

aguṣṭhamātra puruo 'ntarātmā sadā janānā hdaye saniviṣṭa /  
hdā manīā manasābhikpto ya etad vidur amtās te bhavanti // 3.13 //

The Purusha, no bigger than a thumb, is the inner Self, ever seated in the heart of man. He is known by the mind, which controls knowledge and is perceived in the heart. They who know Him become immortal.

The omnipresent and omnipotent Supreme Lord, the sole creator of the world is always seated in everyone’s heart. He is revealed through meditation. Those who know this secret become free.

Mantra 18

yadātamas tan na divā na rātrir na san na cāsac chiva eva kevalaḥ /
tad akṣaraṃ tat savitur vareṇyaṃ prajñā ca tasmāt prasṛtā purāṇī // 4.18 //

When there is complete absence of the darkness of ignorance, then what is experienced is neither day nor night; neither existence or non-existence; only one pure Siva (the auspicious) is there; that is indestructible; that is adorable light of even sun-god; from that this ancient wisdom proceeded all over the world.

“The characterization of the Supreme which transcends the duality of subject and object can only be negative and cannot be a field of clear definition and demonstration”. - Dr.S.Radhakrishnan.
Thus the Supreme can be known only by those whose intellect abides in the heart. Intellect is impersonal and objective, while the heart is always warm and intimate. Mere intellect is cool as snow and mere heart is fleeting like vapor. When these two come together, man can unlock the secrets of life and understand the mysteries of jiva, jagat and jagadisvara.Sankara’s famous Nirvana Shatkam’ is a fine exposition of this aspect. The seeker realizes that he is chidananda rupah sivoham sivoham (I am of the nature of Pure Consciousness - Bliss Absolute, I am Siva, I am (verily) Siva). This Mantra says ‘siva eva kevalah’, there isonly one pure Siva (the auspicious),

Mantra 19

nainam ūrdhvaṃ na tiryañcaṃ na madhye parijagrabhat /
na tasya pratimā asti yasya nāma mahad yaśaḥ // 4.19 // 

No one can catch hold of Him either from above, or across, or in the middle. There is no likeness of Him. His name is Great Glory (Mahad Yasah). 

That Paramatman who has been described in various ways in the previous Mantras cannot be caught hold of or cannot be grasped in whatever manner one may try because He is entirely beyond grasp. When Sastras talk of knowing Him it only means realizing Him through personal experience. Such a realized soul too cannot express Him through words because mind and speech cannot reach there. This Upanishad in chapter 6 and the Mundaka and Katha Upanishads say “Him the sun does not illumine, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor the lightning–nor, verily, fires kindled upon the earth. He is the one light that gives light to all. He shining, everything shines”. He is absolutely different from physical objects which can be understood or grasped. His name is Mahad yasah (far beyond and above everything) and His fame is spread all over. He is without a match and none can equal Him. To say anything about Him is to limit the unlimited. Even then, this Upanishad emphasizes the personal aspect of the transcendent God. He is siva to whom we turn in prayer and praise.

Mantra 20

na saṃdṛśe tiṣṭhati rūpam asya na cakṣuṣā paśyati kaścanainaṃ /
hṛdā hṛdisthaṃ manasā ya enam evaṃ vidur amṛtās te bhavanti // 4.20 //

His form is not an object of vision; no one beholds Him with the eyes. They who, through pure intellect and the Knowledge of Unity based upon reflection, realize Him as abiding in the heart become immortal. 

The form of Parabrahman cannot appear before eyes. Nobody can visualize Him physically.  Those who experience Him through meditation become immortal - free from birth and death forever.

Mantra 21

ajāta ity evaṃ kaścid bhīruḥ prapadyate /
rudra yat dakṣiṇaṃ mukham tena māṃ pāhi nityam // 4.21 //

It is because you are birthless, that some rare souls, frightened by birth and death, take refuge in you. O Rudra, may your benign face protect me for ever!

This Mantra brings about the attitude of Bhakti or devotion. Rudra, the God of destruction, is unborn so it is His nature to free others from birth and death. Some aspirants who are afraid of birth and death and desirous of freedom from the wheel of the world take refuge in Him, realizing this fact. The aspirant seeks protection from this worldly cycle and freedom from fear through the gracious face and compassion of Siva.

Mantra 22

mā nas toke tanaye mā na āyuṣi mā no goṣu mā no aśveṣu rīriṣaḥ /
vīrān mā no rudra bhāmito vadhīr haviṣmantaḥ sadam it tvā havāmahe // 4.22 //

O Rudra, in your anger, please do not destroy our children and grand-children. Do not destroy our lives; do not destroy our cows or horses; do not destroy our strong servants. For we invoke you always, with oblations, for our protection. 

This Mantra presents a contrasting picture of the trend of the discussions. So far, the prayer has been for Knowledge. Now this prayer is of mundane variety seeking personal blessing and advantage from the Supreme implying the idea of dualism. The idea behind this is that so long we live in this relative plane of life, we can reach non-dualism through dualism alone. Hence prayers and worship lead to wisdom, Brahma Jnana. This is the peculiarity of the teachings of this Upanishad.

Iti Svetasvataropanishadi chaturtho’dhyayah ||

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