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The Kaushitaki Upanishad (Sanskrit: कौषीतकि उपनिषद्, Kauṣītāki Upaniṣad) is an ancient Sanskrit text contained inside the Rigveda. It is associated with the Kaushitaki shakha, but a Sāmānya Upanishad, meaning that it is "common" to all schools of Vedanta. It was included in Robert Hume's list of 13 Principal Upanishads, and lists as number 25 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads.
The Kaushitaki Upanishad, also known as Kaushitaki Brahmana Upanishad, is part of the Kaushitaki Aranyaka or the Shankhayana Aranyaka. The Kausitaki Aranyaka comprises 15 chapters and four of these chapters form the Kaushitaki Upanishad.
The Kaushitaki Upanishad is part of the Rig veda, but it occupies different chapter numbers in the Veda manuscripts discovered in different parts of India. Three sequences are most common: the Upanishad is chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Kausitaki Aranyaka, or 6, 7, 8, 9 chapters of that Aranyaka, or chapters 1, 7, 8 and 9 in some manuscripts. Paul Deussen suggests that these different chapter numbers may reflect that Upanishadic layer of Vedic literature were created and incorporated as spiritual knowledge in the pre-existing Aranyaka-layer of Vedic texts, and when this was being done in distant parts of India, the sequencing information was not implemented uniformly.
The Kausitaki Upanishad is a prose text, divided into four chapters, containing 6, 15, 9 and 20 verses respectively.
There is some evidence that the Kaushitaki Upanishad, in some manuscripts, had nine chapters, but these manuscripts are either lost or yet to be found.
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In the first chapter of the Kausitaki Upanishad, re-birth and transmigration of Atman (Soul) is asserted as existent, and that one's life is affected by karma, and then it asks whether there is liberation and freedom from the cycles of birth and rebirth. Verse 2 of the first chapter states it as follows (abridged),
Born am I and again reborn,
As twelvefold year, as thirteenth beyond the moon,
From the twelvefold, from the thirteenfold father,
The this one and the other versus this to know,
Until ye, seasons, me led to death by virtue of this truth, by virtue of this Tapas,
I am the seasons, I am the child of the seasons !
Who are you? I am you.—Kaushitaki Upanishad, Chapter 1, Hymn 2
In verse 6 of chapter 1, the Kausitaki Upanishad asserts that a man is the season (nature), sprouts from season, rises from a cradle, reborn through his wife, as splendour. It then states, in a dialogue between Man and Brahman (Universal Soul, Eternal Reality),
He declares, "Man is the Self is every living being. You are the self of every being. What you are, I am."
Man asks, "Who am I then?"
Brahman answers, "The Truth."—Kaushitaki Upanishad, Chapter 1, Hymn 6, Translated by Paul Deussen)
Edward Cowell translates the above verses that declare the "Oneness in Atman and Brahman" principle as follows,
(The soul answers, when asked by Brahma, "Who art thou?")
I am time, I am what is in time;
I am born from the womb of space;
from the self manifesting light of Brahman;
the seed of the year;
the splendour of the past and the cause, the soul of all that is sensible and insensible, and of the five elements;
Thou art soul. What thou art, that am I.
Brahma says to him, "Who am I?"
His answer, "Thou art the Truth".—Kaushitaki Upanishad, Chapter 1, Translated by Edward Cowell
In the second chapter of the Kausitaki Upanishad, each life and all lives is declared as Brahman (Universal Soul, Eternal Being). To the extent a person realizes that his being is identical with Brahman (godliness within), to that extent he is Brahman. He doesn't need to pray, states Kausitaki Upanishad, the one who realizes and understands his true nature as identical with the universe, the Brahman. To those who don't understand their Atman, they blindly serve their senses and cravings, they worship the without; and in contrast, those who do understand their Atman, their senses serve their Atman, they live holistically.
In verse 5 of the second chapter, the Kausitaki Upanishad asserts that "external rituals such as Agnihotram offered in the morning and in the evening, must be replaced with inner Agnihotram, the ritual of introspection". Paul Deussen states that this chapter reformulates religion, by declaring, "religion is supposed not to consist in the observance of the external cult; but that which places the whole life, with every breathe, in its service." It is knowledge that makes one the most beautiful, the most glorious, and the strongest. Not rituals, but knowledge should be one's pursuit.
After asserting Atman (Self, Soul) as personified God in first two chapters, the Kausitaki Upanishad develops the philosophical doctrine of the Atman in the third chapter. It identifies perception of sense-objects as dependent on sense-organs, which in turn depend on integrative psychological powers of the mind. Then it posits that freedom and liberation comes not from sense-objects, not from sense-organs, not from subjective psychological powers of mind, but that it comes from "knowledge and action" alone. The one who knows Self, and acts harmoniously with the Self, solemnly exists as the highest God which is that Self (Atman) itself. The chapter invokes deity Indra, personifies him as Atman and reveals him as communicating that he is Life-breath and Atman, and Atman is him and all is One.
The chapter presents the metaphysical definition of a human being as Consciousness, Atman, Soul. In verse 3, it develops the foundation for this definition by explaining that speech cannot define a human being, because we see human beings midst us who are born without the power of speech (dumb); that sight cannot define a human being, because we see human beings midst us who are born without the ability of sight (blind); that hearing cannot define a human being, because we see human beings midst us who are born without the ability to hear (deaf); that mind cannot define a human being, because we see human beings midst us who are without the power of clear thinking (foolishness); that arms or legs cannot define a human being, because we see human beings midst us who lose their arms or legs (cut in an accident). A being has life-force, which is consciousness. And that which is conscious, has life-force.
In many verses of chapter 3, the theme, the proof and the premise is re-asserted by Kaushitaki Upanishad, that "Prana is prajna, Prajna is prana" (वै प्राणः सा प्रज्ञा या वा प्रज्ञा स प्राणः, Life-force is consciousness, consciousness is life-force).
In the last verses of chapter 3, the Kaushitaki Upanishad asserts that to really know someone, one must know his soul. Know the soul of the subject, not just superficial objects. The structure of its argument is as follows (abridged),
One should not desire to understand the speech but should desire to know him who speaks,
One should not desire to understand the smell (described by a person) but should desire to know him who smells,
One should not desire to understand the form (of the person) but should desire to know him who sees the form,
One should not desire to understand the sound (described) but should desire to know him who hears,
One should not desire to understand the food (description) but should desire to know him who tastes,
One should not desire to understand the deed but should desire to know him who performs the deed,
One should not desire to understand pleasure and pain from excitation but should desire to know him who feels the pleasure and pain,
One should not desire to understand the opinion and thinking but should desire to know him who opines and thinks.
Because if there were no elements of consciousness, there would be no elements of material being
Because if there were no elements of material being, there would be no elements of consciousness
Because any one phenomenon does not come about through the one without the other,
Because Prana (life-force) is also the Prajnatman (knowledge-self), is bliss, is not ageing, is immortal
This is my Atman (soul) which one should know, O! this is my Atman which one should know.—Kausitaki Upanishad, Chapter 3
Edward Cowell translates these last verses as, "Prana is prajna, it is joy, it is eternally young, it is immortal. This is the guardian of the world, this is the king of the world, this is the lord of the world, this is my soul. Thus let a man know, thus let a man know." Robert Hume summarizes the last verse of Kaushitaki's Chapter 3 as stating that "a human being's ethical responsibility, his very self being is identical with the world-all".
The fourth chapter of Kausitaki Upanishad builds on the third chapter, but it peculiarly varies in various manuscripts of Rig veda discovered in Indian subcontinent. This suggests that this chapter may be an addition of a later era. Despite the variations, the central idea is similar in all recensions so far. The chapter offers sixteen themes in explaining what Brahman (Atman) is, which overlaps with the twelve found in Chapter 2 of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. This last chapter of Kausitaki Upanishad states that Brahman and Self are one, there is ultimate unity in the Self, which is the creative, pervasive, supreme and universal in each living being.
The Kaushitaki Upanishad has been translated by many scholars, but the translation vary because the manuscripts used vary. It was translated into Persian in medieval times, as Kokhenk; however, the manuscript used for that translation has been lost. The most cited English translations are those by Eduard Cowell, Paul Deussen, Robert Hume and Max Muller.
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 21-23
- Hume, Robert Ernest (1921), The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, page xi
- Max Muller, The Upanishads, p. PR98, at Google Books, Oxford University Press, pages xcviii to ci
- Some manuscripts number the chapter into 7 verses
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 24-31;
The complete hymn is: स होवाच ये वै के चास्माल्लोकात्प्रयन्ति चन्द्रमसमेव ते सर्वे गच्च्हन्ति । तेषां प्राणैः पूर्वपक्ष आप्यायते । अथापरपक्षे न प्रजनयति । एतद्वै स्वर्गस्य लोकस्य द्वारं यश्चन्द्रमास्तं यत्प्रत्याह तमतिसृजतेऽथ य एनं प्रत्याहतमिह वृष्टिर्भूत्वा वर्षति स इह कीटो वा पतङ्गो वा शकुनिर्वा शार्दूलो वा सिंहो वा मत्स्यो वा परश्वा वा पुरुषो वान्यो वैतेषु स्थानेषु प्रत्याजायते यथाकर्म यथाविद्यम् । तमागतं पृच्छति कोऽसीति तं प्रतिब्रूयाद्विचक्षणादृतवो रेत आभृतं पञ्चदशात्प्रसूतात्पित्र्यावतस्तन्मा पुंसि कर्तर्येरयध्वं पुंसा कर्त्रा मातरि मा निषिक्तः स जायमान उपजायमानो द्वादश त्रयोदश उपमासो द्वादशत्रयोदशेन पित्रा सन्तद्विदेहं तन्म ऋतवो मर्त्यव आरभध्वम् । तेन सत्येन तपसर्तुरस्म्यार्तवोऽस्मि कोऽसि त्वमस्मीति तमतिसृजते ॥ २ ॥ (Wikisource
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 24-31;
The complete hymn is: ऋतुरस्म्यार्तवोऽस्म्याकाशाद्योनेः सम्भूतो भार्या एतत्संवत्सरस्य तेजोभूतस्य भूतस्यात्मभूतस्य त्वमात्मासि यस्त्वमसि सोहमस्मीति तमाह कोऽहमस्मीति सत्यमिति ब्रूयात्किं तद्यत्सत्यमिति यदन्यद्देवेभ्यश्च प्राणेभ्यश्च तत्सदथ यद्देवाच्च प्राणाश्च तत्त्यं तदेतया वाचाभिव्याह्रियते सत्यमित्येतावदिदं सर्वमिदं सर्वमसि । इत्येवैनं तदाह । तदेतदृक्श्लोकेनाभ्युक्तं यजूदरः सामशिरा असावृङ्मूर्तिरव्ययः । स ब्रह्मेति हि विज्ञेय ऋषिर्ब्रह्ममयो महानिति । तमाह केन मे पौंस्रानि नामान्याप्नोतीति प्राणेनेति ब्रूयात् । केन स्त्रीनामानीति वाचेति केन नपुंसकनामानीति मनसेति केन गन्धानिति घ्राणेनेति ब्रूयात् । केन रूपाणीति चक्षुषेति केन शब्दानिति श्रोत्रेणेति केनान्नरसानिति जिह्वयेति केन कर्माणीति हस्ताभ्यामिति केन सुखदुःखे इति शरीरेणेति केनानन्दं रतिं प्रजापतिमित्युपस्थेनेति । केनेत्या इति पादाभ्यामिति केन धियो विज्ञातव्यं कामानिति प्रज्ञयेति ब्रूयात्तमह । आपो वै खलु मे ह्यसावयं ते लोक इति सा या ब्रह्मणॊ जितिर्या व्यष्टिस्तां जितिं जयति तां व्यष्टिं व्यश्नुते य एवं वेद य एवं वेद ॥ ६ ॥ (Wikisource
- Kaushitaki Upanishad Edward Cowell (Translator), Asiatic Society of Bengal (1861), page 149
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 30-42;
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 43-47;
- Kaushitaki Upanishad Edward Cowell (Translator), Asiatic Society of Bengal (1861), pages 161-163
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 50-51; Sanskrit: न वाचं विजिज्ञासीत वक्तारं विद्यान्न गन्धं विजिज्ञासीत घ्रातारं विद्यान्न रूपं विजिज्ञासीत रूपविद्यं विद्यान्न शब्दं विजिज्ञासीत श्रोतारं विद्यान्नान्नरसं विजिज्ञासीतान्नरसविज्ञातारं विद्यान्न कर्म विजिज्ञासीत कर्तारं विद्यान्न सुखदुःखे विजिज्ञासीत सुखदुःखयोर्विज्ञातारं विद्यान्नानन्दं न रतिं न प्रजातिं विजिज्ञासीतानन्दस्य रतेः प्रजातेर्विज्ञातारं विद्यान्नेत्यां विजिज्ञासीतैतारं विद्यात् । न मनो विजिज्ञासीत मन्तारं विद्यात् । ता वा एता दशैव भूतमात्रा अधिप्रज्ञं दश प्रज्ञामात्रा अधिभूतं यद्धि भूतमात्रा न स्युर्न प्रज्ञामात्राः स्युर्यद्वा प्रज्ञामात्रा न स्युर्न भूतमात्राः स्युः ॥ ८ ॥
न ह्यन्यतरतो रूपं किञ्चन सिद्ध्येन्नो एतन्नाना तद्यथा रथस्यारेषु नेमिरर्पिता नाभावरा अर्पिता एवमेवैता भूतमात्राः प्रज्ञामात्रास्वर्पिताः प्रज्ञामात्राः प्राणेऽर्पिताः स एष प्राण एव प्रज्ञात्मानन्दोऽजरोऽमृतः । न साधुना कर्मणा भूयान्नो एवासाधुना कनीयान् । एष ह्येवैनं साधुकर्म कारयति तं यमेभ्यो लोकेभ्यो उन्निनीषत एष उ एवैनमसाधु कर्म कारयति तं यमधॊ निनीषत । एष लोकपाल एष लोकाधिपतिरेष सर्वेश्वरः स म आत्मेति विद्यात्स म आत्मेति विद्यात् ॥ ९ ॥ (Wikisource)
- Kausitaki Upanishad Robert Hume (Translator), Oxford University Press, pages 327-328
- Kaushitaki Upanishad Edward Cowell (Translator), Asiatic Society of Bengal (1861), pages 166-167
- Kausitaki Upanishad Robert Hume (Translator), Oxford University Press, page 328
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 51-54
- Kausitaki Upanishad Chapter 4, Verse 20 Robert Hume (Translator), Oxford University Press, page 334
- A Weber, Indische Studien: Beiträge für die Kunde des indischen Alterthums, p. 392, at Google Books, Volume 1, pages 392-393
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