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The Upanishads, Part 1 (SBE01), by Max Müller, [1879], at

p. 120


1. 'Spirit 1 (prâna) is better than hope. As the spokes of a wheel hold to the nave 2, so does all this (beginning with names and ending in hope) hold to spirit. That spirit moves by the spirit, it gives spirit to the spirit. Father means spirit, mother is spirit, brother is spirit, sister is spirit, tutor is spirit, Brâhmana is spirit.

2. 'For if one says anything unbecoming to a father, mother, brother, sister, tutor or Brâhmana, then people say, Shame on thee! thou hast offended thy father, mother, brother, sister, tutor, or a Brâhmana.

3. 'But, if after the spirit has departed from them, one shoves them together with a poker, and burns them to pieces, no one would say, Thou offendest thy father, mother, brother, sister, tutor or a Brâhmana.

4. 'Spirit then is all this. He who sees this, perceives this, and understands this, becomes an ativâdin 3. If people say to such a man, Thou

p. 121

art an ativâdin, he may say, I am an ativâdin; he need not deny it.'


120:1 Prâna is used here in a technical sense. It does not mean simply breath, but the spirit, the conscious self (pragñâtman) which, as we saw, enters the body in order to reveal the whole variety of forms and names. It is in one sense the mukhya prâna.

120:2 The commentary carries the simile Still further. The felloe he says, holds to the spokes, the spokes to the nave. So do the bhûtamâtrâs hold to the pragñâmâtrâs, and these to the prâna.

120:3 One who declares something that goes beyond all the declarations made before, beginning with the declaration that names are Brahman, and ending with the declaration that hope is Brahman;--one who knows that prâna, spirit, the conscious self, is Brahman. This declaration represents the highest point reached by ordinary people, but Nârada wishes to go beyond. In the Mundaka, III, 1, 4, an ativâdin is contrasted with one who really knows the highest truth.

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