Kena Upanishad | by Shankara | IV 7-9


upaniṣadaṁ bho brūhītyuktā ta upaniṣadbrāhmīṁ vāva ta
upaniṣadamabrūmeti || 7 ||

The disciple asked: O Master, teach me the Upanishad.
(The teacher replied:) The Upanishad has been taught thee.
We have certainly taught thee the Upanishad about Brahman.

After being instructed thus, the disciple said to the teacher,

Bho, sir; brūhi, speak of; upaniṣadaṁ, the secret thing, that is to be thought about.”

To the student who had spoken thus, the teacher said,
te, to you; upaniṣat, the secret knowledge; uktā, has been spoken of.

“What is that, again?”—to such a question he answers,

Te, to you; upaniṣadaṁ vāva abrūma iti, I have spoken the very secret; brāhmīṁ, relating to Brahman, to the supreme Self—since the knowledge already imparted relates to the supreme Self.”

For the sake of (distinguishing) what follows, the teacher delimits (his teaching) thus:

The Upaniṣad that I have told you consists of nothing but what has already been presented as the Upaniṣad of the supreme Self.”


What motive could have prompted the disciple, who had heard the Upaniṣad about the supreme Self to put this question: “Sir, speak of the Upaniṣad”?

If, now, the question related to what had been already heard, then it is useless, inasmuch as it involved a repetition like the grinding over again of what had already been ground.

If, again, the earlier Upaniṣad was incomplete,
then it was not proper to conclude it by mentioning its result thus:

Having turned away from this world, the intelligent ones become immortal” (Ke. II. 5).

Hence the question is improper even if it relates to some unexplained portion of the Upaniṣad already presented, inasmuch as no remainder was left over.

What then is the intention of the question?


We say that this is the intention (of the disciple):

“Does the secret teaching already imparted need any accessory, or does it not need any?

If it does, tell me of the secret teaching with regard to that needed accessory. Or if it does not, then like Pippalāda make the clenching assertion: ‘There is nothing beyond this’ (Pr. VI. 7).”

Thus this statement of the teacher, “I have told you the Upaniṣad” is justified.


May it not be urged that this is not a concluding remark, inasmuch as the teacher has something more to add in the statement:

Concentration, cessation from sense-objects, rites, etc. are its legs” etc. (Ke. IV. 8).


It is true that a fresh matter is introduced by the teacher;

but this is not done either by way of bringing in something as an attributive constituent (śeṣa) of the Upaniṣad or as an accessory (sahakārī) to it, but rather as a means for the acquisition of the knowledge of Brahman,

because tapas (concentration) etc., occurring as they do in the same passage along with the Vedas and their supplementaries, are given an equal status with the latter,

and because neither the Vedas nor the science of pronunciation and euphony (śikṣā) etc., which are their supplementaries, can directly by either attributive constituents of the knowledge of Brahman or its helpful accessories.


Should not even things that occur in the same passage be put to separate uses according to their appropriateness?

Just as the mantras, occurring at the end of a sacrifice, in the form of a hymn meant for the invocation of (many) deities, are applied with respect to the (individual) deities concerned,

similarly it can be imagined that concentration, self-control, rites, truth, etc., will either be attributive constituents of the knowledge of Brahman or be helpful accessories (in accordance with their respective appropriateness).

As for the Vedas and their subsidiaries, they are means for either knowledge or rites by virtue of their respective meanings (ideas).

In this way this division becomes appropriate when significance of words, relation (of things denoted), and reason are taken into consideration.

Suppose we advance such an argument?


No, because this is illogical.

This division does not certainly accord with facts, because it is not reasonable that the knowledge of Brahman, which repels all ideas of distinction of deeds, doers, and results, should have dependence on any attributive constituent, or any relation with any helpful accessory,

and because the knowledge of Brahman and its result, freedom, are concerned only with the Self which is unassociated with any object.

He who wants emancipation should for ever give up all works together with their instruments, because it is known only by the man of renunciation.

The state of the Supreme Reality that is the same as the indwelling Self is attained by the man of renunciation.”

Therefore knowledge cannot reasonably have work either as an accessory or as a complement.

Therefore the division (of concentration etc.) on the analogy of the invocation through hymn, occurring at the end of a sacrifice, is quite inappropriate.

Hence it is proper to say that the question and the answer are meant for fixing a limit thus:

The secret teaching that has been imparted extends thus far only; it is adequate for the attainment of knowledge without depending on anything else.”


tasyai tapo damaḥ karmeti pratiṣṭhā vedāḥ sarvāṅgāni
satyamāyatanam || 8 ||

The Upanishad is based on

tapas (practice of the control of body, mind and senses),
dama (subjugation of the senses),
karma (right performance of prescribed actions).

The Vedas are its limbs. Truth is its support.

Concentration etc. are the means for the acquisition; tasyai, (should be tasyāḥ) of that secret teaching (Upaniṣad), regarding Brahman which I thus spoke before you.

Tapa, the concentration of the body, the senses, and the mind; damaḥ, cessation (from sense-objects); karma, rites, Agnihotra etc. (are the means);

for it is found that the knowledge of Brahman arises in a man who has attained the requisite holiness through the purification of the heart.

For it is a matter of experience that, even though Brahman is spoken of, there is either non-comprehension or miscomprehension in the case of one who has not been purged of his sin, as for instance, in the case of Indra and Virocana (Ch. VIII. vii-xii).

Therefore knowledge, as imparted by the Vedas, dawns on one whose mind has been purified by concentration etc., either in this life or in many past ones, as is mentioned by the Vedic verse:

These things get revealed when spoken to that high-souled man who has supreme devotion towards the Effulgent One, and the same devotion to his teacher as to the Effulgent One” (Śv. VI. 23).

And this is borne out by the Smṛti,

Knowledge dawns on a man on the eradication of sinful acts” (Mbh. Šā. 204.8).

The word iti is used to draw attention to a synecdoche; that is to say, by the word iti are suggested other factors, beginning with these, which are helpful to the rise of knowledge, such as “Humility, unpretentiousness,” etc. (G. xiii. 7).

(Concentration etc. are the) pratiṣṭhā, two legs, stands as it were, of that Upaniṣad; for when these exist, knowledge of Brahman stands firm and becomes active, just as a man does with his legs.

Vedāḥ, the 4 Vedas; and sarvaṅgāni, all the 6 subsidiaries beginning with the science of pronunciation and euphony (śikṣā) (are also the legs).

The Vedas are the legs because they reveal the rites and knowledge; and all the angāni, subsidiaries, are so because they are meant for the protection of the Vedas.

Or since the word pratiṣṭhā has been imagined to imply the 2 legs (of the knowledge), the Vedas are its sarvaṅgāni, all the limbs beginning with the head.

In this case, the subsidiaries, such as the science of pronunciation and euphony, are to be understood to have been mentioned by the word Vedas;

because when the principal factor is mentioned, the subsidiaries are mentioned ipso facto, they being dependent on the principal.

Satyam āyatanam, satya is the āyatana, the dwelling place where the secret teaching resides.

Satya means freedom from deceit and crookedness in speech, mind, and body;
for knowledge abides in those who are free from deceit and who are holy,
and not in those who are devilish by nature and are deceitful,

as the Vedic text says,
those in whom there are no insincerity, falsehood, and deceit” (Pr. I. 16).

Therefore Satya (truth) is imagined as the abode.

Although by implication, truth has already been mentioned as legs, along with concentration etc., still its allusion again as the abode is for indicating that as a means (for the acquisition of knowledge) it excels others, as the Smṛti says:

A thousand horse sacrifices and truth are weighed in a balance;
and one truth outweighs a thousand horse sacrifices
” (Viṣṇu Smṛti, 8).


yo vā etāmevaṁ vedāpahatya pāpmānamanante svarge
loke jyeye pratitiṣṭhati pratitiṣṭhati || 9 ||

He who knows this (wisdom of the Upanishad),
having been cleansed of all sin,
becomes established
in the blissful, eternal and highest abode of Brahman,
in the highest abode of Brahman.

Yaḥ vai, anyone who; veda evaṁ, realises thus—-as spoken; etām, this thing, this blessed knowledge of Brahman

which has been already spoken of in the text beginning with “Willed by whom” (Ke. I. 1),
which has been eulogised in the text beginning with, “It was Brahman indeed” (Ke. III. 1),
and which is “the foundation of all knowledge” (Mu. I. i. 1).

Notwithstanding the presentation of the fruit of the knowledge of Brahman in “because thereby one gets immortality” (Ke. II. 4), it is mentioned at the end by way of a formal conclusion.

(Such a knower) apahatya pāpmānam, dispelling sin, shaking off the seed of mundane existence constituted by ignorance, desire, and work;

pratitiṣṭhati, remains firmly seated anante, in boundless, svarge loke: Svarge loke means in Brahman who is all Bliss.

Being qualified by the word ananta, boundless, the word svarga does not mean heaven:

Lest the word boundless (ananta) be taken in any secondary sense, the text says jyeye, in the higher, that which is greater than all, in one’s own Self which is boundless in the primary sense.

The purport is that he does not again return to this world.

|| iti kenopaniṣadi caturthaḥ khaṇḍaḥ ||

It was the fourth part of Kena Upanishad.

auṁ āpyāyantu mamāṅgāni vākprāṇaścakṣuḥ
śrotramatho balamindriyāṇi ca sarvāṇi |
sarvaṁ brahmaupaniṣadaṁ
mā'haṁ brahma nirākuryāṁ mā mā brahma
nirākarodanirākaraṇamastvanirākaraṇaṁ me'stu |
tadātmani nirate ya
upaniṣatsu dharmāste mayi santu te mayi santu |

May my limbs, speech, energy, eyes, ear and vitality,
as well as all the other senses become more vigorous!
All are that Brahman of the Upanishads.
May I never deny Brahman, nor may Brahman deny me.
Let there be no denial at all;
let there be no denial at least from me.
May all the virtues that dwell in the Upanishads reside in me,
who am devoted to the Ātman!

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
auṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ||

|| iti kenopaniṣat ||