The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is one of Hindu Dharma’s oldest and most important of the Upanishads. It is a vast text comprising six chapters and discussions on various topics related to spirituality, philosophy, and the nature of reality. It is a part of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajurveda and is believed to have been composed around 700 BCE.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is named after the forest (Aranyaka). “Brihad” means “great” or “large,” emphasizing the text’s length and importance.

Some of the key teachings of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad include:

The nature of Brahman: The Upanishad presents Brahman as the ultimate reality, which is all-pervading, eternal, and unchanging. Brahman is the source of all creation and the ultimate goal of spiritual practice.

The nature of the self: The Upanishad explores the nature of the individual self (atman) and its relationship to Brahman. It teaches that the true nature of the self is identical to Brahman. And that spiritual practice aims to realize this truth through meditation and self-inquiry.

The Three States of Consciousness: The Upanishad describes the three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming, and deep sleep – and discusses how these states relate to the nature of the self and the ultimate reality.

Karma and Rebirth: The Upanishad explores the concept of karma and how it relates to the cycle of birth and death. It teaches that the quality of one’s actions in this life determines the nature of one’s next birth and that spiritual practice can help break the cycle of rebirth and attain liberation from the cycle of suffering.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is a deeply philosophical and spiritual text that has profoundly influenced Hinduism and other spiritual traditions. It continues to be studied and revered by philosophers, mystics, and spiritual seekers worldwide.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Shlokas

There are several important verses (shlokas) in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. However, the most important and popular ones are:

असतो मा सद्गमय । तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।

“Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrityor ma amritam gamaya.” (1.3.28) – This is a famous shloka which means “Lead me from the unreal to the real, lead me from darkness to light, lead me from death to immortality.”

अयमात्मा ब्रह्म।

“Ayam atma brahma” (2.5.19) – This shloka means “The Self (Atman) is Brahman.”

अहं ब्रह्मास्मि।

“Aham Brahmasmi” (1.4.10) – This is another well-known shloka that means “I am Brahman.”

सत्यं वद, धर्मं चर।

“Satyam vada, dharmam chara” (1.4.14) – This shloka means “Speak the truth, follow righteousness.”


“Tat tvam asi” (2.4.5) – This shloka means “That thou art,” which implies the identity of the individual soul (Atman) with the supreme soul (Brahman). This statement is seen as the essence of the Upanishadic teachings and has profoundly impacted Indian philosophy and spirituality.I

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is also significant for its detailed discussions on various topics such as creation, death, rebirth, karma, and meditation. It presents a holistic and integrated worldview that seeks to reconcile existence’s material and spiritual dimensions.