गभर उपिनषद

Garbha Upanishad

Translation and notes by Subhash Kak (सु भाष काक)

॥ गभ|पिनषत् ॥

ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भु नñु ।
सहवीय करवावहै । ते जÍःव नावधीतमःतु ।
मा ÍवÍñषावहै ॥

ॐ शाÍ=तः शाÍ=तः शाÍ=तः ॥

Om! May we be protected; may we be nourished; may we act together with
energy; may our study be vigorous and effective; may we not mutually dispute.
Om! śāntiå, śāntiå, śāntiå.

ॐ प¯चाcमकं प¯चसु वतर मानं षडाौयं षsगु णयोगयुñम् ।
तcसBधातु Íऽमलं Íñयोिन चतुÍवर धाहारमयं शर|रं ॥

The body is fivefold in nature (the five elements), existing in the five, depending
on the six supports (tastes of food), connected with the six qualities, [consisting
of] seven dhātus (tissues), three impurities, having two yonis (sexes), and
[nourished by] four kinds of food.


भवित प¯चाcमकिमित कःमात् पृ िथ¯यापःते जोवायुराकाशिमित
अÍःम=प¯चाcमके शर|रे ।
का पृ िथवी का आपः Íकं ते जः को वायुः Íकमाकाशम् ।
तऽ यcकÍठनं सा पृ िथवी यdिवं ता आपो यदंणं ु
तdे जो यcस¯चरित स वायु ः यcसु Íषरं तदाकाशिमcयु ¯यते ॥

How is it pancātmakam (five-fold)? Because of the five: earth, water, fire, air and
ether. In this five-fold body, what is earth, what is water, what is fire, what is air,
and what is ether? It is said that what is hard is earth, what is fluid is water, what
is warm is fire, what moves is air, and what is space is ether.

तऽ पृ िथवी धारणे आपः ÍपÞड|करणे ते जः ूकाशने
1
वायुगर मने आकाशमवकाशूदाने ।
पृ थक् ौोऽे श¯दोपल¯धौ cवक् ःपश चHु षी Fपे Íजãा रसने
नािसकाऽऽयाणे उपःथ°ान=दने ऽपानमु cसग बुdºया
बुdºयित मनसा सsक~पयित वाचा वदित ।

There the earth is to support, water is to consolidate, fire is for light, air is for
movement, and ether is to provide space. Separately, ears are to receive words,
the skin for touch, eyes to see form, tongue for taste, and nose for smell. The
genitalia are for pleasure and apāna for evacuation. One cognizes with the
intellect (buddhi), envisions with the mind (manas), and speaks with words (vāk).


षडाौयिमित कःमात् मधुरा¹ललवणितñकटकषायरसाÍ=व=दते ु ।
षsजषर भगा=धारमºयमप¯चमधैवतिनषादा°े ित ।
इPािनPश¯दसं 7ाः ूÍणधान2शÍवधा भवÍ=त ॥ १ ॥

How is the six-fold support? It is said to be the six tastes [of food]: sweet, acid,
salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. And ¬adja, Ŭabha, gāndhāra, pancama,
madhyama, dhaivata, ni¬āda, together with agreeable and disagreeable sounds
and prayer, make ten categories.

शु4लो रñः कृ ंणो धूॆः पीतः कÍपलः पाÞडु र इित ।
सBधातुिमित कःमात् यदा दे वदdःय ि¯याÍदÍवषया जाय=ते ॥
परःपरं सौ¹यगु णcवात् षÍsवधो रसो
रसा¯छोÍणतं शोÍणता=मां सं मां सा=मे दो मे दसः
ःनावा ःना¯नोऽःथी=यÍःथ¹यो म7जा म77ः शुबं
शुबशोÍणतसं योगादावतर ते गभ| ãÍद ¯यवःथां नयित ।

It has white, red, black, smoky gray, yellow, tawny and pale as the colours. What
are the seven dhātus (tissues) when Devadatta (any person) desires enjoyment of
objects? From the proper combination of qualities, six types of taste (rasa)
emerge. From relish of food, blood is created, from it flesh, thence fat, bones,
marrow, semen. By the combination of semen and blood the embryo (garbha) is
born, and its growth is regulated by the heart (mother’s heartbeat as well as the
embryo’s).

ãदये ऽ=तरा͹नः अ͹नःथाने Íपdं Íपdःथाने
वायुः वायुःथाने ãदयं ूाजापcयाcबमात् ॥ २ ॥
2

[The seven dhātus] are in the heart where there’s inner fire; at the place of the fire
is pitta (bile); at the pitta-organs is movement (vāyu); and at the vāyu-place is the
heart, all growing in order according to the law (Prajāpati).

ऋतुकाले सं ूयोगादे कराऽोÍषतं किललं भवित
सBराऽोÍषतं बुñदं ु भवित अधर मासा¹य=तरे ण ÍपÞडो
भवित मासा¹य=तरे ण कÍठनो भवित मासñये न िशरः
सं प²ते मासऽये ण पादूवे शो भवित ।

When ready, on the joining [of the male and female], [the embryo] after [a day]
and night is in a mixed (semi-fluid) state; after seven days it becomes a bubble;
after a fortnight, a solid mass, and in a month, it hardens. In two months, it
develops the head; in three months, the feet grow.

अथ चतुथ मासे जठरकÍटूदे शो भवित ।
प¯चमे मासे पृ Pवंशो भवित ।
षPे मासे मु खनािसकाÍHौोऽाÍण भवÍ=त ।

In the fourth month, belly and hip are formed; in the fifth month, the backbone is
formed; in the sixth month, nose, eyes and ears are formed.

सBमे मासे जीवे न सं युñो भवित ।
अPमे मासे सवर सं पूण| भवित ।
In the seventh month, [the embryo] comes to have the jīva (conscious self), and in
the eighth month, it becomes complete in every sense.

Íपतू रे तोऽितÍरñात् पु³षो भवित ।
मातुः रे तोऽितÍरñाÍcUयो भव=cयुभयोब|जतु~यcवा=नपुंसको भवित ।

If the father’s seed is more potent, it becomes male; if the mother’s seed is
stronger, it becomes female. If the seeds are equal, it becomes an intersexual
(napu÷saka, neither male, nor female).

¯याकु िलतमनसोऽ=धाः ख¯जाः कु ¯जा वामना भवÍ=त ।
अ=यो=यवायुपÍरपीÍडतशु बñै ºयाÍdñधा
तनुः ःयाdतो यु¹माः ूजाय=ते ॥
If [at the time of impregnation] the parents are agitated, the child will be blind,
crippled, hunch-backed or stunted. If the vital air moves around, the seed enters in
two parts, resulting in twins.
3

प¯चाcमकः समथर ः
प¯चाcमकते जसे Zरस° स¹य¹7ानात् ºयानात्
अHरमोsकारं िच=तयित ।
तदे तदे काHरं 7ाcवाऽPौ
ूकृ तयः षोडश Íवकाराः शर|रे तःयैवे दे Íहनाम् ।

Enabled by the five-fold self, the intelligence of the five elements emerges, and he
meditates on the imperishable syllable Om. With the knowledge of the syllable,
he understands the eight natures [five sense organs, the mind, intellect and ego]
and their sixteen modifications belong to the self residing in the body.

अथ माऽाऽिशतपीतनाड|सू ऽगते न ूाण आ!यायते ।
अथ नवमे मािस सवर लHणसं पूण| भवित पूवर जातीः ःमरित
कृ ताकृ तं च कमर Íवभाित शुभाशुभं च कमर Íव=दित ॥ ३ ॥

Whatever is consumed or drunk by the mother passes through the nerves and
vessels to the child, becoming the source of his satisfaction. During the ninth
month, all outer signs attain completeness. And he is reminded of his previous
birth, and recounts the good and bad deeds committed.


नानायोिनसहॐाÍण 7ंòवा चैव ततो मया ।
आहारा ÍवÍवधा भु ñाः पीता° ÍवÍवधाः ःतनाः ॥
जातःयैव मृ तःयैव ज=म चैव पुनः पु नः ।
अहो दःखोदधौ ु म¹नः न पँयािम ूितÍबयाम् ॥
य=मया पÍरजनःयाथ कृ तं कमर शुभाशुभम् ।
एकाक| ते न दHािम गताःते फलभोिगनः ॥


He thinks: I have seen thousands of wombs, eaten several kinds of food and
sucked many breasts. Born and dead again and again, I am immersed in grief but
see no remedy. Thinking of my good and bad deeds, I am suffering alone,
although the bodies that enjoyed the fruits are gone.

यÍद यो=यां ूमु ¯चािम सांFयं योगं समाौये ।
अशुभHयकतार रं फलमु Íñूदायकम् ॥
यÍद यो=यां ूमु ¯चािम तं ूप²े महे +रम् ।
4
अशुभHयकतार रं फलमु Íñूदायकम् ॥

When I get out of this womb, I will take refuge in Sā¡khya-Yoga, which destroys
misery and yields liberation; when I get out of this womb, I will take refuge in
Maheśvara, who destroys misery and grants liberation.

यÍद यो=यां ूमु ¯चािम तं ूप²े
भगव=तं नारायणं दे वम् ।
अशुभHयकतार रं फलमु Íñूदायकम् ।
यÍद यो=यां ूमु ¯चािम ºयाये ॄN सनातनम् ॥

When I get out of this womb, I will take refuge in Nārāyaªa, who destroys misery
and grants liberation. When I get out of this womb, I will meditate on the eternal
Brahman.

अथ ज=तुः Uीयोिनशतं योिनñाÍर
सं ूाBो य=ऽे णापीsयमानो महता दःखे न ु जातमाऽःतु
वैंणवे न वायु ना सं ःपृ ँयते तदा न ःमरित ज=ममरणं
न च कमर शुभाशुभम् ॥ ४ ॥


When he reaches the birth canal and comes out of it with great difficulty, he is
touched by an all-pervading movement [Māyā] that causes him to forget previous
births and the good and the bad deeds performed therein.

शर|रिमित कःमात्
साHाद¹नयो Hऽ िौय=ते 7ाना͹नदर शर ना͹नः कोPा͹नÍरित ।
तऽ कोPा͹ननार मािशतपीतले Hचोंयं पचतीित ।
दशर ना¹नी Fपाद|नां दशर नं करोित ।
7ाना͹नः शु भाशुभं च कमर Íव=दित ।

Why the body is called śarīram. It has three fires – namely, jñānāgni, darśanāgni
and ko¬−hāgni. Of these, ko¬−hāgni is that fire which enables the digestion of all
that is eaten; darśanāgni is the fire that gives the power of seeing forms; jñānāgni
is that fire of knowledge which enables one to distinguish between good and bad
actions.

तऽ ऽीÍण ःथानािन भवÍ=त
ãदये दÍHणा͹न³दरे गाहर पcयं
5
मु खमाहवनीयमाcमा यजमानो
मनो ॄNा लोभादयः पशवो धृ ितद|Hा स=तोष°
बुZ|Í=ियाÍण य7पाऽाÍण कम Í=ियाÍण हवीं Íष िशरः
कपालं के शा दभार मु खम=तव Íदः चतु ंकपालं
िशरः षोडश पा+र द=तोPपटलािन ।

They have three places. At the heart is the dak¬iªāgni, in the belly is the
gārhapatya, in the mouth is the āhavanīya. Ātman is the yajamāna (sacrificer);
the mind is the Brahmā (the doer); greed and so on [anger, jealousy] are animals
[of sacrifice]; mental strength is the vow; contentment and the organs of intellect
are the instruments of the yajña (sacrifice); the action organs are the sacrificial
objects (comparable to the havis or the rice); the head or the skull is the utensil;
the hair thereon is the darbha (the dried grass used in homa); the mouth is the
inner altar, the head are the four cups, and the two rows of teeth are the sixteen
cups (kapāla) [of the sacrifice].


सBोdरं ममर शतं साशीितकं सÍ=धशतं सनवकं ःनायुशतं
सB िशरासतािन प¯च म7जाशतािन अःथीिन च ह
वै ऽीÍण शतािन षÍP°ाधर चतॐो रोमाÍण कोòयो
ãदयं पला=यPौ ñादश पलािन Íजãा Íपdूःथं
कफःयाढकं शु4लं कु डवं मे दः ूःथौ ñाविनयतं
मू ऽपुर|षमाहारपÍरमाणात् ॥ ५॥

[The human body] consists of 107 marmas (weak or sensitive spots), 180 sutures
or junction points, 109 snāyu (sinews), 700 channels, 500 majjā (muscle), 360
bones, and forty five million hairs. The heart weighs 8 palas and the tongue
weights 12 palas. It has one prastha of pitta (bile), one ā©haka of kapha, one
ku©ava of śukra, and two prasthas of fat. The measure of the urinary or solid
excretions is dependent on the intake. [1 pala = 45.5 grammes; 1 prastham = 728
grammes; 1 ā©hakam = 2,912 grammes; 1 ku©avam = 182 grammes]

पै!पलादं मोHशाUं
पÍरसमाBं पै!पलादं मोHशाUं पÍरसमाBिमित ॥

This Mok¬a ˜āstra was enunciated by the sage Pippalāda. This Mok¬a ˜āstra was
enunciated by the sage Pippalāda.

ॐ इित गभ|पिनषcसमाBा ॥

6

Notes


1. Pippalāda and his date

The first question concerns the date of the Garbha Upani¬ad. Since it is ascribed
to Pippalāda, we need to determine this sage’s place in the Vedic tradition,
although it is believed that the text may not be as old as the sage. Pippalāda is also
the instructing sage of the Praśna Upani¬ad and the author of the Atharvaveda
śākhā named after him (Paippalāda śākhā). As a principal arranger of the
Atharvaveda, he should be assigned to at least the middle of the second
millennium BCE, if the ›gveda is to be taken to be no later than 2000 BCE, as is
suggested by hydrological evidence related to the drying up of the Sarasvatī river
around this time, and the fact that the ›gveda celebrates this river as the great
river of its time, flowing from the mountains to the sea.

According to the Purāªas, Pippalāda was the disciple of the ›¬i Vedasparśa, and
he instructed Yudhi¬−hira in the significance of the A¡gāravrata, which is based
on a dialogue between ˜ukra and Virocana.

The physiological knowledge in the Garbha Upani¬ad is consistent with that
found in the oldest Upani¬ads. Like the other texts, it speaks of recursion, but it
doesn’t list as many channels (veins and nerves) as the other texts do. This
indicates that this Upani¬ad may be older than what has been assumed.

Pippalāda answers six questions in the Praśna Upani¬ad, a number that is
reminiscent of the six darśanas. The six questions touch upon six different
aspects of reality: forms (nyāya), basis of life (mīmā÷sā), origins (sā÷khya),
devas within (yoga), next world (vedānta), and modifications (vaiśe¬ika). This is
not an argument for the lateness of the Praśna Upani¬ad, but rather for the remote
antiquity of six bases to reality, which mirroring the six directions.

2. Recursion

Recursion, the mirroring of the cosmos at several levels, including at the level of
the body, is one of the central ideas of the Upani¬ads. It is clearly stated, for
example, in the Chāndogya Up. 8.1.1 and 3, where we are told that within the
heart is this small place with the heaven, earth, sun, moon, and stars where the
lights of the universe shine.

अथ यÍददमÍःम=ॄNपुरे दहरं पुÞडर|कं वे ँम
दहरोऽÍःम=न=तराकाशःतÍःम=यद=तःतद=वेP¯यं
तñाव ÍवÍज7ािसत¯यिमित ॥ ८. १. १ ॥

7
यावा=वा अयमाकाशःतावाने षोऽ=तãर दय आकाश
उभे अÍःम=²ावापृ िथवी अ=तरे व समाÍहते
उभाव͹न° वायु° सूयार च=िमसावुभौ
Íव²ु=नHऽाÍण य¯चाःये हाÍःत य¯च नाÍःत सव
तदÍःम=समाÍहतिमित ॥ छा=दो¹योपिनषद ८. १. ३ ॥

There is in this city of Brahman (the body) the mansion in the shape of a
lotus and in it the small inner ākāśa (sky). What lies there that should be
sought, which one should seek to understand?’

As large indeed as is this ākāśa, so large is that ākāśa in the heart. Within it
are contained both heaven and earth, both fire and air, both sun and moon,
lightning and stars; whatever there is of him (Self) in this world and whatever
is not, all that is contained within it. (Chandogya Up. 8.1.1 and 8.1.3)

This recursion is also expressed across time, and it leads to a variety of paradoxes
that, the Vedas tell us, cannot be explained away by language. It is described most
clearly in the last (fifth) section of the Garbha Upani¬ad in which the body itself is
seen as the ground of the sacrifice.

Speaking of recursion, one must also mention “hiraªyagarbha,” the golden womb
out of which, the Veda tells us, the universe emerged. In an abstract sense,
creation at the cosmic level is to be understood in a sense similar to that at the
individual level.

3. Physiology and consciousness

Now we consider the most interesting assertion that the body consists of 107
marmas (weak spots), 180 sutures or junction points, 109 snāyu (sinews), 700
veins, 500 majjā (muscle), 360 bones, and forty five million hairs.

The numbers 180 and 360 are obviously astronomical and related to the number
of days in the civil year. Their occurrence is the assertion of the mirroring of the
cosmos in the body.

The numbers 107 and 109 are also, but less obviously, astronomically related. I
have shown elsewhere (see the references below) that the Vedic Ŭis characterized
the universe by the measure of 108, for it represents the distance to the sun and
the moon from the earth, in multiples of their respective diameters. If the body
mirrors the universe, it will have 108 parts, with 107 vulnerable joints (marmas),
and 109 lashes to hold them together (snāyu).

Other Upani¬ads (e.g. Aitareya 3.3) speak of four kinds of life: born alive, born
from egg, born from moisture (insects), and born from germ (plants).

8
बीजानीतराÍण चे तराÍण चाÞडजािन च जा³जािन च ःवे दजािन चोÍ77जािन चा+ा गावः पु ³षा
हÍःतनो यÍcक¯चे दं ूाÍण जsगमं च पतÍऽ च य¯च ःथावरं सव तcू7ाने ऽं ू7ाने ूितÍPतं
ू7ानेऽो लोकः ू7ा ूितPा ू7ानं ॄN ॥ ऐतरे य उपिनषत् ३.॥

[These all] are born of eggs, of wombs, of moisture, and of sprouts, namely
horses, cattle, men, elephants, and all creatures that there are that move or fly
and those that do not move. All these are guided by consciousness and
supported by consciousness; the basis is consciousness. Consciousness is
Brahman. (Aitareya Up. 3.3)

Consciousness is not taken to exist only in the human, but in all life.

4. Channels in the body (nerves)

The count of 700 channels does not go to the usual details that are to be found in
other Upani¬ads. Thus Pippalāda instructs ¸ślavāyana in Praśna Upani¬ad 3.6:

अऽै तदे कशतं नाड|नं तासां शतं
शतमे कै कःया ñासBितñार सBितः
ूितशाखानाड|सहॐाÍण
भव=cयासु ¯यान°रित ॥ ू÷ोपिनषत् ३.६ ॥

Here there are one hundred and one channels;
each of these has one hundred more;
each further has seventy-two thousand branching channels,
through which the vyāna (breath) courses. (Praśna Upani¬ad 3.6)

This means that the total number of channels (veins, nerves) equals:

101 + 101×100 + 101×100×72,000 = 727,210,201.

Of these, the most significant channel is the su¬umnā.

BÅhadāraªyaka Upani¬ad 2.1.19 speaks of how the Self returns to the body along
the 72,000 hitā channels, which branch off from the heart to all parts of the body.
This together with a further description of these nerves of four colours is
described well in the Kau¬ītaki Brāhmaªa Upani¬ad:
Íहता नाम ãदयःय नाsयो ãदयाcपुर|ततमिभूत=वÍ=त यथा सहॐधा के शो ÍवपाÍटतःतावदÞ¯यः
ÍपsगलःयाÍण¹ना ितPÍ= त। शु4लःय कृ ंणःय पीतःय लोÍहतःये ित तासु तदा भवित। यदा सुBः
ःव!नं न कं चन पँयcयथाÍःम=ूाण एवैकधा भवित तथै नं वा4सव नार मिभः सहा!ये ित मनः
सव ºयार तैः सहा!ये ित चHुः सव Fपै ः सहा!ये ित ौोऽं सव ः श¯दै ः सहा!ये ित मनः सव ºयार तैः सहा!ये ित
स यदा ूितबुºयते यथा¹ने 7वर लतो Íवःफु िलsगा ÍवूितPे र=नेवमे वैतःमादाcमनः ूाणा यथायतनं
9
ÍवूितP=ते ूाणे ¹यो दे वा दे वे¹यो लोकाःत²था Hुरः Hुरºयाने Íहतः ःयाÍñ+ं भरो वा Íव+ंभरकु लाय
एवमे वैष ूा7 आcमे दं शर|रमनुूÍवP आ लोम¹य आ नखे¹यः ॥ ४. १९. ॥
तमे तमाcमानमेतमाcमनोऽ=ववःयित यथा ौे ÍPनं ःवाःत²था ौे Pै ः ःवैभु र sñे यथा वा ौे ÍPनं
ःवा भु¯ज=त एवमे वैष ूा7 आcमैतैराcमिभभु र sñे यथा ौे Pी ःवैरे वं वैतमाcमानमे त
आcमनोऽ=ववःयÍ=त यथा ौे ÍPनं ःवाः स यावZ वा इ=ि एतमाcमानं न Íवज7ौ तावदे नमसुरा
अिभबभूवुः स यदा Íवज7ावथ हcवासुराÍ=वÍजcय सव षां भू तानां ौै ंòयं ःवारा7यमािधपcयं
पय ित तथो एवै वं Íवñा=सव षां भूतानां ौै ंòयं ःवारा7यमािधपcयं पय ित य एवं वे द य एवं वे द
॥ कौषीतÍकॄाNणोपिनषत् ४. २० ॥
The nerves of the heart named hitā extend from the heart of the person
towards the surrounding body. Fine as a hair divided a thousand-fold, they
stand full of thin essence of various colours, white, black, yellow, and red. In
these one remains when sleeping and sees no dream, becoming one with the
prāªa alone. Then speech with all names goes to it, the eye with all forms
goes to it, the ear with all sounds goes to it, and the mind with all thoughts
goes to it. And when he awakes, then as from a blazing fire sparks proceed in
all directions, thus from that self the prāªas proceed, each towards its place,
from the prāªas the gods (the senses), from the gods the worlds. And as a
razor might be placed in a razor-case, or as fire in the fire-place, even so this
conscious self enters the body to the very hairs and nails.
On that self depend other selves, as the men follow the chief, or as his own
people are of service to the chief, even so these other selves are of service to
that self. So long Indra did not understand this self, the Asuras defeated him.
When he understood this, striking down and conquering the Asuras, he
attained pre-eminence among all gods and all beings, sovereignty and
supremacy. And thus also he who knows this obtains pre-eminence among all
beings, sovereignty, supremacy - he who knows this, yes, he who knows
this. (Kau¬ītaki Brāhmaªa Upani¬ad 4.19-20)

5. Causal chain and birth

In Section 4, the Upani¬ad speaks of how the newborn forgets the causal chain at
the moment of birth. This echoes the Bhagavad Gītā:

इ¯छाñे षसमु cथे न ñ=ñमोहे न भारत ।
सवर भूतािन संमोहं सग याÍ=त पर=तप ॥ भगव<|ता ७- २७॥

By the rising together of desire and envy by the confusion of duality, all
beings, when born, fall into the state of forgetting. (Bhagavad Gītā 7.27)

10
By doing this, it is able to fit the individual’s embodiment in the womb that is
consistent with the idea of rebirth.

6. General views

Like other sages of the Upani¬ads, Pippalāda is systematic and rational. The
physical basis of life, and the sequence following the development of the embryo,
is clearly defined. He describes the basis of life mystically in categories that go, in
sequence, from 2 to 7. In the body emerge 8 natures and in it arise 16
modifications that are similar to the tattvas of Sā¡khya. In Praśna Upani¬ad 6.4,
these are listed by Pippalāda.

The embryo is taken to have become jīva (conscious self) in the seventh month,
and in the eighth month, it becomes complete in every sense. This gives the time
the fetus becomes a person, with attendant legal rights. It is not explained how the
jīva comes to be attached to the body.

Although other passages indicate that the jīva resides in the heart’s recess, it also
suffuses the entire body; furthermore, its identity with the Puru¬a means that,
mysteriously, it is the one with the entire universe. The distinction also implies
the existence of the subtle body (li¡gam). In the Sarvasāra Upani¬ad 7, the subtle
body is defined as created out of the mind and other subtle elements that reside in
the knot of the heart. The consciousness within this subtle body is called the
“knower of the field” (k¬etrajña).

The body is an instrument of the heart, but for it to be able to do what it can, the
k¬etrajña must be free: this is mok¬a or mukti.

7. Mass ratios

The conversion ratios in the last section of the Upani¬ad are from Paul Deussen’s
book The Philosophy of the Upanishads (Dover, 1966, page 285).

References

S. Kak, The Astronomical Code of the ›gveda. Munshiram Manoharlal, New
Delhi, 2000.

S. Kak, The axis and the perimeter of the Hindu temple. Mankind Quarterly, vol.
46, 2006.

© Subhash Kak, सु भाष काक, 2006
11

bones. air is for movement. and speaks with words (vāk).वायुगमने आकाशमवकाशूदाने । र् पृथक् ौोऽे श दोपल धौ वक् ःपश च षी पे ज ा रसने ु नािसकाऽऽयाणे उपःथ ान दनेऽपानमु सग बु बु यित मनसा स क पयित वाचा वदित । या There the earth is to support. By the combination of semen and blood the embryo (garbha) is born. and its growth is regulated by the heart (mother’s heartbeat as well as the embryo’s). red. blood is created. ु षडाौयिमित कःमात ् मधुरा ललवणित कटकषायरसा व दते । ष जषर्भगा धारम यमप चमधैवतिनषादा ेित । इ ािन श दसं ाः ू णधान श वधा भव त ॥ १ ॥ How is the six-fold support? It is said to be the six tastes [of food]: sweet. madhyama. The genitalia are for pleasure and apāna for evacuation. ni¬āda. make ten categories. and astringent. gāndhāra. together with agreeable and disagreeable sounds and prayer. tawny and pale as the colours. and nose for smell. yellow. thence fat. दयेऽ तरा नः अ नःथाने प ं प ःथाने वायुः वायुःथाने दयं ूाजाप या बमात ् ॥ २ ॥ 2 . pungent. water is to consolidate. acid. marrow. six types of taste (rasa) emerge. black. From relish of food. tongue for taste. शु लो र ः कृ ंणो धूॆः पीतः क पलः पा डु र इित । परःपरं सौ यगुण वात ् ष वधो रसो स धातुिमित कःमात ् यदा दे वद ःय ि या द वषया जाय ते ॥ रसा छो णतं शो णता मांसं मांसा मेदो मेदसः ःनावा ःना नोऽःथी य ःथ यो म जा म शुबशो णतसंयोगादावतर्ते गभ ः शुब ं द यवःथां नयित । It has white. Ŭabha. and ether is to provide space. Separately. the skin for touch. smoky gray. eyes to see form. fire is for light. semen. One cognizes with the intellect (buddhi). And ¬adja. bitter. envisions with the mind (manas). pancama. dhaivata. ears are to receive words. from it flesh. What are the seven dhātus (tissues) when Devadatta (any person) desires enjoyment of objects? From the proper combination of qualities. salty.

all growing in order according to the law (Prajāpati). it develops the head. resulting in twins. याकिलतमनसोऽ धाः ख जाः क जा वामना भव त । ु ु अ यो यवायुप रपी डतशुब ै या धा तनुः ःया तो यु माः ूजाय ते ॥ If [at the time of impregnation] the parents are agitated. nose.[The seven dhātus] are in the heart where there’s inner fire. a solid mass. eyes and ears are formed. स मे मासे जीवेन संयु ो भवित । अ मे मासे सवर्सपूण भवित । ं In the seventh month. the feet grow. [the embryo] after [a day] and night is in a mixed (semi-fluid) state. and in a month. in the fifth month. पतू रे तोऽित र ात ् पु षो भवित । यो भव मातुः रे तोऽित र ा युभयोब जतु य वा नपुंसको भवित । If the father’s seed is more potent. the backbone is formed. it becomes complete in every sense. after a fortnight. after seven days it becomes a bubble. if the mother’s seed is stronger. If the vital air moves around. hunch-backed or stunted. In two months. on the joining [of the male and female]. crippled. [the embryo] comes to have the jīva (conscious self). 3 . ऋतुकाले संूयोगादे कराऽो षतं किललं भवित स राऽो षतं बु दं भवित अधर्मासा य तरे ण प डो ु संप ते मासऽयेण पादूवेशो भवित । When ready. nor female). and in the eighth month. If the seeds are equal. the child will be blind. neither male. it becomes male. in three months. the seed enters in two parts. it becomes an intersexual (napu÷saka. at the place of the fire is pitta (bile). it becomes female. belly and hip are formed. it hardens. अथ चतुथ मासे जठरक टूदे शो भवित । ौोऽा ण भव त । भवित मासा य तरे ण क ठनो भवित मास येन िशरः प चमे मासे पृ वंशो भवित । ष े मासे मुखनािसका In the fourth month. and at the vāyu-place is the heart. in the sixth month. at the pitta-organs is movement (vāyu).

During the ninth month. And he is reminded of his previous birth. I am suffering alone. he understands the eight natures [five sense organs. all outer signs attain completeness.प चा मकः समथर्ः प चा मकतेजसे रस तदे तदे का रं ा वाऽ ौ स य अ रमो कारं िच तयित । ानात ् यानात ् ूकृ तयः षोडश वकाराः शर रे तःयैवे दे हनाम ् । Enabled by the five-fold self. intellect and ego] and their sixteen modifications belong to the self residing in the body. although the bodies that enjoyed the fruits are gone. becoming the source of his satisfaction. Born and dead again and again. the intelligence of the five elements emerges. नानायोिनसहॐा ण ं वा चैव ततो मया । आहारा व वधा भु ाः पीता व वधाः ःतनाः ॥ जातःयैव मृतःयैव ज म चैव पुनः पुनः । अहो दःखोदधौ म नः न पँयािम ूित बयाम ् ॥ ु एकाक तेन द ािम गताःते फलभोिगनः ॥ य मया प रजनःयाथ कृ तं कमर् शुभाशुभम ् । He thinks: I have seen thousands of wombs. and he meditates on the imperishable syllable Om. With the knowledge of the syllable. अथ माऽाऽिशतपीतनाड सूऽगतेन ूाण आ यायते । अथ नवमे मािस सवर्ल णसंपूण भवित पूवजातीः ःमरित र् कृ ताकृ तं च कमर् वभाित शुभाशुभं च कमर् व दित ॥ ३ ॥ Whatever is consumed or drunk by the mother passes through the nerves and vessels to the child. the mind. eaten several kinds of food and sucked many breasts. य द यो यां ूमु चािम सां यं योगं समाौये । अशुभ यकतार्रं फलमु य द यो यां ूमु चािम तं ूप े महे रम ् । ूदायकम ् ॥ 4 . I am immersed in grief but see no remedy. Thinking of my good and bad deeds. and recounts the good and bad deeds committed.

ko¬−hāgni is that fire which enables the digestion of all that is eaten. य द यो यां ूमु चािम तं ूप े भगव तं नारायणं दे वम ् । अशुभ यकतार्रं फलमु ूदायकम ् । य द यो यां ूमु चािम याये ॄ सनातनम ् ॥ When I get out of this womb.अशुभ यकतार्रं फलमु ूदायकम ् ॥ When I get out of this womb. When I get out of this womb. शर रिमित कःमात ् संूा ो य ऽेणापी यमानो महता दःखेन जातमाऽःतु ु सा ाद नयो ऽ िौय ते ाना नदर् शना नः को ा न रित । र् तऽ को ा ननार्मािशतपीतले चोंयं पचतीित । दशर्ना नी पाद नां दशर्नं करोित । ाना नः शुभाशुभं च कमर् व दित । Why the body is called śarīram. jñānāgni is that fire of knowledge which enables one to distinguish between good and bad actions. I will meditate on the eternal Brahman. तऽ ऽी ण ःथानािन भव त दये द णा न दरे गाहर् प यं 5 . darśanāgni and ko¬−hāgni. I will take refuge in Maheśvara. darśanāgni is the fire that gives the power of seeing forms. It has three fires – namely. I will take refuge in Nārāyaªa. which destroys misery and yields liberation. who destroys misery and grants liberation. when I get out of this womb. I will take refuge in Sā¡khya-Yoga. jñānāgni. अथ ज तुः ीयोिनशतं योिन ा र वैंणवेन वायुना संःपृँयते तदा न ःमरित ज ममरणं न च कमर् शुभाशुभम ् ॥ ४ ॥ When he reaches the birth canal and comes out of it with great difficulty. he is touched by an all-pervading movement [Māyā] that causes him to forget previous births and the good and the bad deeds performed therein. Of these. who destroys misery and grants liberation.

one ā©haka of kapha. It has one prastha of pitta (bile). the hair thereon is the darbha (the dried grass used in homa). At the heart is the dak¬iªāgni. 500 majjā (muscle). 109 snāyu (sinews). in the belly is the gārhapatya. The heart weighs 8 palas and the tongue weights 12 palas. one ku©ava of śukra. greed and so on [anger. 360 bones. and the two rows of teeth are the sixteen cups (kapāla) [of the sacrifice]. [1 pala = 45. the head or the skull is the utensil. the mouth is the inner altar. contentment and the organs of intellect are the instruments of the yajña (sacrifice).912 grammes. 1 ā©hakam = 2. The measure of the urinary or solid excretions is dependent on the intake. and forty five million hairs.मुखमाहवनीयमा मा यजमानो मनो ॄ ा लोभादयः पशवो धृितद बु ा स तोष िया ण य पाऽा ण कम िया ण हवीं ष िशरः कपालं कशा दभार् मुखम तव दः चतुंकपालं े िशरः षोडश पा द तो पटलािन । र् They have three places.5 grammes. mental strength is the vow. 180 sutures or junction points. 700 channels. and two prasthas of fat. jealousy] are animals [of sacrifice]. the mind is the Brahmā (the doer). 1 prastham = 728 grammes. ॐ इित गभ पिनष समा ा ॥ 6 . 1 ku©avam = 182 grammes] पै पलादं मो शा ं प रसमा ं पै पलादं मो शा ं प रसमा िमित ॥ This Mok¬a ˜āstra was enunciated by the sage Pippalāda. This Mok¬a ˜āstra was enunciated by the sage Pippalāda. the head are the four cups. स ो रं ममर्शतं साशीितक स धशतं सनवक ःनायुशतं ं ं स िशरासतािन प च म जाशतािन अःथीिन च ह वै ऽी ण शतािन ष ाधर्चतॐो रोमा ण को यो दयं पला य ौ ादश पलािन ज ा प ूःथं कफःयाढक शु लं कडवं मेदः ूःथौ ाविनयतं ं ु मूऽपुर षमाहारप रमाणात ् ॥ ५॥ [The human body] consists of 107 marmas (weak or sensitive spots). in the mouth is the āhavanīya. Ātman is the yajamāna (sacrificer). the action organs are the sacrificial objects (comparable to the havis or the rice).

flowing from the mountains to the sea.1 and 3. it speaks of recursion. This indicates that this Upani¬ad may be older than what has been assumed. and stars where the lights of the universe shine. Pippalāda was the disciple of the ›¬i Vedasparśa. 2. he should be assigned to at least the middle of the second millennium BCE. moon. It is clearly stated.1. which is based on a dialogue between ˜ukra and Virocana. १ ॥ दहरोऽ ःम न तराकाशःत ःम यद तःतद वे यं 7 . if the ›gveda is to be taken to be no later than 2000 BCE. Since it is ascribed to Pippalāda. next world (vedānta). and modifications (vaiśe¬ika). Pippalāda answers six questions in the Praśna Upani¬ad. sun. including at the level of the body. १. for example. devas within (yoga). a number that is reminiscent of the six darśanas. the mirroring of the cosmos at several levels. although it is believed that the text may not be as old as the sage. we need to determine this sage’s place in the Vedic tradition. but it doesn’t list as many channels (veins and nerves) as the other texts do. Recursion Recursion. where we are told that within the heart is this small place with the heaven. and the fact that the ›gveda celebrates this river as the great river of its time. According to the Purāªas.Notes 1. but rather for the remote antiquity of six bases to reality. अथ य ददम ःम ॄ पुरे दहरं पु डर क वेँम ं त ाव व ज ािसत यिमित ॥ ८. basis of life (mīmā÷sā). origins (sā÷khya). is one of the central ideas of the Upani¬ads. and he instructed Yudhi¬−hira in the significance of the A¡gāravrata. 8. The physiological knowledge in the Garbha Upani¬ad is consistent with that found in the oldest Upani¬ads. This is not an argument for the lateness of the Praśna Upani¬ad. in the Chāndogya Up. As a principal arranger of the Atharvaveda. Pippalāda is also the instructing sage of the Praśna Upani¬ad and the author of the Atharvaveda śākhā named after him (Paippalāda śākhā). earth. Pippalāda and his date The first question concerns the date of the Garbha Upani¬ad. which mirroring the six directions. as is suggested by hydrological evidence related to the drying up of the Sarasvatī river around this time. The six questions touch upon six different aspects of reality: forms (nyāya). Like the other texts.

it will have 108 parts. born from moisture (insects). creation at the cosmic level is to be understood in a sense similar to that at the individual level. Speaking of recursion. astronomically related. which one should seek to understand?’ As large indeed as is this ākāśa. and born from germ (plants). If the body mirrors the universe. Other Upani¬ads (e.3) speak of four kinds of life: born alive.1 and 8. with 107 vulnerable joints (marmas). I have shown elsewhere (see the references below) that the Vedic Ŭis characterized the universe by the measure of 108.यावा वा अयमाकाशःतावानेषोऽ त र् दय आकाश उभे अ ःम उभाव न वायु ावापृिथवी अ तरे व समा हते सूयार्च िमसावुभौ तद ःम समा हतिमित ॥ छा दो योपिनषद् ८. The numbers 180 and 360 are obviously astronomical and related to the number of days in the civil year. and forty five million hairs. 500 majjā (muscle). the Veda tells us. Physiology and consciousness Now we consider the most interesting assertion that the body consists of 107 marmas (weak spots).3) This recursion is also expressed across time. lightning and stars. 700 veins. १. 109 snāyu (sinews). whatever there is of him (Self) in this world and whatever is not.1. 8 . cannot be explained away by language. but less obviously. both sun and moon. Aitareya 3. the universe emerged. The numbers 107 and 109 are also. both fire and air. ३ ॥ व ु न ऽा ण य चाःयेहा ःत य च ना ःत सव There is in this city of Brahman (the body) the mansion in the shape of a lotus and in it the small inner ākāśa (sky). 3. Within it are contained both heaven and earth. 180 sutures or junction points. in multiples of their respective diameters. and 109 lashes to hold them together (snāyu). all that is contained within it. Their occurrence is the assertion of the mirroring of the cosmos in the body. (Chandogya Up.” the golden womb out of which. and it leads to a variety of paradoxes that. so large is that ākāśa in the heart. In an abstract sense.g. one must also mention “hiraªyagarbha. What lies there that should be sought. born from egg. the Vedas tell us. 8. It is described most clearly in the last (fifth) section of the Garbha Upani¬ad in which the body itself is seen as the ground of the sacrifice. 360 bones. for it represents the distance to the sun and the moon from the earth.1.

and of sprouts.000 hitā channels. through which the vyāna (breath) courses. which branch off from the heart to all parts of the body.19 speaks of how the Self returns to the body along the 72.210. elephants. All these are guided by consciousness and supported by consciousness.६ ॥ Here there are one hundred and one channels. each further has seventy-two thousand branching channels.बीजानीतरा ण चेतरा ण चा डजािन च जा जािन च ःवेदजािन चो ू ानेऽो लोकः ू ा ूित ा ू ानं ॄ ॥ ऐतरे य उपिनषत ् ३. (Aitareya Up. the most significant channel is the su¬umnā.201. Thus Pippalāda instructs ¸ślavāyana in Praśna Upani¬ad 3. 4.॥ ह ःतनो य क चेदं ूा ण ज गमं च पत ऽ च य च ःथावरं सव त ू ानेऽं ू ाने ूित तं जािन चा ा गावः पु षा [These all] are born of eggs. nerves) equals: 101 + 101×100 + 101×100×72.1. but in all life.3) Consciousness is not taken to exist only in the human. Consciousness is Brahman. of wombs. the basis is consciousness. men.6: अऽैतदे कशतं नाड नं तासां शतं शतमेककःया ै भव ूितशाखानाड सहॐा ण ास ित ार्स ितः यासु यान रित ॥ ू ोपिनषत ् ३. Channels in the body (nerves) The count of 700 channels does not go to the usual details that are to be found in other Upani¬ads. of moisture. Of these. each of these has one hundred more. 3. This together with a further description of these nerves of four colours is described well in the Kau¬ītaki Brāhmaªa Upani¬ad: हता नाम दयःय ना यो दया पुर ततमिभूत व त यथा सहॐधा कशो वपा टतःतावद यः े ःव नं न कचन पँय यथा ःम ूाण एवैकधा भवित तथैनं वा सवनार्मिभः सहा येित मनः ं प गलःया ण ना ित त। शु लःय कृ ंणःय पीतःय लो हतःयेित तासु तदा भवित। यदा सु ः सव यार्तैः सहा येित च ुः सव पैः सहा येित ौोऽं सवः श दै ः सहा येित मनः सव यार्तैः सहा येित स यदा ूितबु यते यथा ने वर्लतो वःफिल गा वूित ेर नेवमेवैतःमादा मनः ूाणा यथायतनं ु 9 .6) This means that the total number of channels (veins. cattle. (Praśna Upani¬ad 3. namely horses.000 = 727. and all creatures that there are that move or fly and those that do not move. BÅhadāraªyaka Upani¬ad 2.

19-20) 5. he who knows this. supremacy .27) 10 . And thus also he who knows this obtains pre-eminence among all beings. or as fire in the fire-place.he who knows this. the ear with all sounds goes to it. yellow. Then speech with all names goes to it.वूित ते ूाणे यो दे वा दे वे यो लोकाःत था ुरः ुर याने हतः ःया भरो वा व ंभरकलाय ं ु एवमेवैष ूा आ मेदं शर रमनुू व आ लोम य आ नखे यः ॥ ४. the eye with all forms goes to it. १९. This echoes the Bhagavad Gītā: इ छा े षसमु थेन मोहे न भारत । सवर्भूतािन संमोहं सग या त पर तप ॥ भगव ता ७. even so these other selves are of service to that self. all beings. २० ॥ अिभबभूवुः स यदा वज ावथ ह वासुरा व ज य सवषां भूतानां ौैं यं ःवारा यमािधप यं आ मनोऽ ववःय त यथा ौे नं ःवाः स याव े यथा ौे ी ःवैरेवं वैतमा मानमेत वा इ ि एतमा मानं न वज ौ तावदे नमसुरा The nerves of the heart named hitā extend from the heart of the person towards the surrounding body. Fine as a hair divided a thousand-fold. sovereignty. thus from that self the prāªas proceed. from the gods the worlds. yes. as the men follow the chief. fall into the state of forgetting. the Asuras defeated him. black. (Bhagavad Gītā 7. sovereignty and supremacy. becoming one with the prāªa alone. even so this conscious self enters the body to the very hairs and nails. the Upani¬ad speaks of how the newborn forgets the causal chain at the moment of birth. So long Indra did not understand this self. ॥ े यथा वा ौे नं ःवा भु ज त एवमेवैष ूा तमेतमा मानमेतमा मनोऽ ववःयित यथा ौे नं ःवाःत था ौे ैः ःवैभुर् आ मैतैरा मिभभुर् पयित तथो एवैवं व ा सवषां भूतानां ौैं यं ःवारा यमािधप यं पयित य एवं वेद य एवं वेद ॥ कौषीत कॄा णोपिनषत ् ४. they stand full of thin essence of various colours. and red. And when he awakes. (Kau¬ītaki Brāhmaªa Upani¬ad 4. In these one remains when sleeping and sees no dream. When he understood this. On that self depend other selves. and the mind with all thoughts goes to it. or as his own people are of service to the chief. And as a razor might be placed in a razor-case. each towards its place. from the prāªas the gods (the senses). when born.२७॥ By the rising together of desire and envy by the confusion of duality. he attained pre-eminence among all gods and all beings. Causal chain and birth In Section 4. white. then as from a blazing fire sparks proceed in all directions. striking down and conquering the Asuras.

© Subhash Kak. New Delhi. The Astronomical Code of the ›gveda. from 2 to 7. It is not explained how the jīva comes to be attached to the body. the subtle body is defined as created out of the mind and other subtle elements that reside in the knot of the heart. and the sequence following the development of the embryo.By doing this. The distinction also implies the existence of the subtle body (li¡gam). vol. In Praśna Upani¬ad 6. In the Sarvasāra Upani¬ad 7. Mass ratios The conversion ratios in the last section of the Upani¬ad are from Paul Deussen’s book The Philosophy of the Upanishads (Dover. 7. 6.4. The embryo is taken to have become jīva (conscious self) in the seventh month. The physical basis of life. it also suffuses the entire body. He describes the basis of life mystically in categories that go. The consciousness within this subtle body is called the “knower of the field” (k¬etrajña). This gives the time the fetus becomes a person. 46. is clearly defined. furthermore. The body is an instrument of the heart. it is the one with the entire universe. mysteriously. General views Like other sages of the Upani¬ads. S. and in the eighth month. 2000. सुभाष काक. the k¬etrajña must be free: this is mok¬a or mukti. Pippalāda is systematic and rational. 2006. but for it to be able to do what it can. with attendant legal rights. in sequence. page 285). its identity with the Puru¬a means that. Kak. Although other passages indicate that the jīva resides in the heart’s recess. it is able to fit the individual’s embodiment in the womb that is consistent with the idea of rebirth. The axis and the perimeter of the Hindu temple. Munshiram Manoharlal. it becomes complete in every sense. References S. In the body emerge 8 natures and in it arise 16 modifications that are similar to the tattvas of Sā¡khya. 2006 11 . these are listed by Pippalāda. Mankind Quarterly. 1966. Kak.

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