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                        SOME UPANISHAD QUOTES ON BRAHMAN

Reality and Unreality are two extremes. The Absolute Reality of which we have  the unique example of Brahman as the only example  is one extreme. This is the ‘sat’  of advaita Vedanta.  Na abhAvaH vidyate sataH says the Gita; meaning, there can be no non-existence of ‘sat’. It always exists. In fact advaita Vedanta  as well as VishishhTAdvaita vedAnta  both say ‘sat’ that is Brahman, is the only thing that exists. Brahman cannot be described or defined by words.  However, the Upanishads themselves attempt to indicate Brahman by words; here are several such attempts.


  • Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 

  • II.iii.6 – “Now therefore the description of (Brahman): ‘not this, not this’. Because there is no other and more appropriate description than this ‘not this’.

  • III.ix.26,  IV.ii.4, IV,iv,22, and IV.v.15  - “This Atma is That which has been described as ‘Not this, not this’. It is imperceptible, for It is never perceived; undecaying, for It never decays; unattached, for It is never attached; unfettered, It never feels pain and never suffers injury. ”   

  • III.viii.8 - …..This imperishable Brahman is neither gross nor minute, neither short nor long,…..unattached, tasteless, smellless, without eyes or ears…..without vocal organ or mind…… and without interior or exterior. It does not eat anything nor is It eaten by anybody.”  (‘Eating’ refers to experience. So, It is neither the experiencer nor the experienced.)

  • IV.iii.15 –   “This infinite is relationless.” 

  • IV.iv.19 “There is no plurality whatsoever in It. He who regards the apparent plurality as real goes from death to death.”   

  • IV.iv.20 - “ It is to be realized  (in accordance  with the instructions of a teacher) as non dual (for) It is  unknowable, eternal. The Atma is taintless, is superior to unmanifested space (i.e. Maya), is unborn, infinite and constant”  

  • IV.iv.20 – “ It should be realized in one form only.” – Sankaracarya’s commentary – “ as the homogenous pure caitanyam”.

  • IV.iv.25 – “That great birthless Atma is undecaying, immortal, undying, fearless and infinite.”

  • IV.v.15 -  “Through what should one know that owing to which all this is known? Through what should one know the Knower?


  • Chandogya Upanishad

  •  VI.ii.1 – “One only, nondual”.

  • VI.ii.1 “ O, good looking one, in the beginning this was Existence alone, One only and without  a second.” 

  • VII.24.i –   'The Infinite is that where one does not see anything else, does not hear anything else and does not know anything else. Hence the finite is that where one sees something else, hears  something else  and knows something else. That which indeed is the Infinite is immortal.” ( “Does not see anything else” etc, mean that at the Paramarthika level, there is no division of knower, known and knowing instrument – pramata pramana and prameyam – no triputi; Paramarthika Brahman is non-dual. Where is the question of one seeing and another  being seen or one knowing and another being known? At paramarthika order of reality, Brahman is devoid of empirical dealings (“avyavaharyam”).

  • Viii.i.v – “This (Brahman) does not grow old when the body grows old or die when the body dies (or killed when the body is killed)……….. This is the Atma  which is beyond sin, beyond decrepitude, beyond death, beyond sorrow, beyond hunger and thirst….”

  • Isavasya Upanishad 4 – “It is unmoving , one, faster than the mind” ( Sankaracarya’s commentary – “ ‘One’ indicates that It is in all beings. It is spoken of as ‘unmoving’ in respect of Its own unconditioned aspect. And, by reason of Its following the limiting adjunct, the mind, , the internal organ characterized by volition and doubt, It appears to be subject to modification. When the speedy mind travels fast to the world of Hiranyagarbha etc., the reflection of the atma that is consciousness is perceived to have reached there, as it were, even earlier; and hence It is said to be faster than the mind.”)

  • 5 “ It moves; it does not move. It is far. It is near. It is inside all this.  It is outside all this. ”

  • 8 – “He is all pervasive, pure, bodiless, without wound, without sinews, taintless, untouched by sin, omniscient, ruler of mind, transcendent, and self-existent.”  



  •  I.ii.14 – “…that thing which you see as different from dharma , different from adharma, different from  cause and  effect and different from the past and the future.”

  • I.ii.18 – “The intelligent Self is neither born nor does it die. It did not originate from anything, nor did anything originate from It. It is birthless, eternal, undecaying and ancient. It is not injured even when the body is killed.”

  • I.ii.19 –  “ If the killer thinks of it in terms of killing and if the killed thinks of it as killed, both of them do not know. It does not kill nor is it killed.”.  

  • I.ii.20  -  “Subtler than the than the subtlest, greater than the greatest”.

  • I.ii.21 – While sitting , it travels far away; While sleeping it goes everywhere.

  • II.iii.12 - “Not by words nor by sight and not even by the mind can It be reached. But he who says that It does not exist can never attain It.”  

  •  I.iii.15 - “That which is soundless, touchless, formless,    undecying, tasteless, internal, smellless, imperishable, immortal,  beginningless, endless, (infinite),  greater than the greatest,  distinct from intelligence, (i.e., the eternal consciousness) and changelessly constant…..”  




  •  I. 4.- “ (Because) It is different  from the known and It is beyond the unknown – This is what we have heard from our teachers who have taught us about That  Brahman.” 

  • I.3 - “Eyes do not reach That nor do words and not even the mind. How to make Brahman known we do not ourselves know by our intellect nor do others make us know” 

  • I.3 – “The eye does not go there, nor speech, nor mind. We do not know (Brahman) to be such and such.”

  • I.5 – “ That which is not uttered by speech, That by which speech is revealed, know That alone to be Brahman, and not what people worship as an object.”

  • I.6 – “That which man does not comprehend with the mind. That by which…..mind is pervaded.” 

Mandukya Upanishad   


  • 7 - “It is not the inward awareness. It is not the outward awareness. It is not  the intermediate awareness.  It is not the undifferentiated mass of awareness. It is not the knowing awareness. It is not non-awareness. It is unperceivable. It is not accessible to transaction. It cannot be grasped.  It is attributeless. It is not accessible to thought. It is not amenable to be communicated. It is the substratum  of the I thought. It is the remainder of the negation ( annulment) of the universe. It is peace. It is auspiciousness. It is the nondual reality. ……That is atma. That is to be known.”

Mundaka Upanishad 



  • I..i.6 - “That  which cannot be seen or grasped, that which has no source, that which has no features, that which has no eyes, ears, etc, that which has no hands, feet etc. that which is eternal,  that which is infinite, that which is all pervading, that which is the subtlest of the subtlest,  that which is  undiminishing and that which is the source of all creation…”   

  • II.i.2 - “Effulgent, formless, all pervading, pervading the inside  and outside of the universe, unborn, without prana and mind, pure, superior to the (other) superior (i.e. Maya)”   

  •  III.i.7 – “ That ( i.e., Brahman) is infinite, effulgent, not accessible to  thought, formless, subtler than the subtlest; farther than the farthest.  It is, at the same time, near at hand in this body. It is available to be recognised in one’s very heart, (i.e., as the consciousness behind the ahamkara)”.  

  •  III.i.8 – “That which cannot be    apprehended by sight or by words or by other ‘indriyas’  ( i.e. sense organs and the mind), that which cannot be attained by penance or rituals….The divisionless…..”



  • VI.5 – “…….That one is without parts and immortal…”

Svetasvatara Upanishad 

  • VI.19 - “ Divisionless, actionless, beyond fluctuations, free from all defects, untainted,  the means of crossing the sea of Samsara and attaining Moksha  

Taittiriya Upanishad


  •  II.iv.1  - “ Words and sense organs, along with the mind return, unable to reach That”  

  • ii.i.2  "Existence-Consciousness-Bliss" 

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