ISHAVASYA UPANISHAD - - A Translation by Sandeep Tyagi, New Jersey.

ISHAVASYA UPANISHAD - - A Translation by Sandeep Tyagi, New Jersey.

ISHAVASYA UPANISHAD - - A Translation by Sandeep Tyagi, New Jersey.

Isha Upanishad is one of the main Upanishads. It is one of the earlier Upanishads and presents a balanced view of worldly and spiritual pursuits. It creates a framework for understanding balance between enjoyment and renunciation; between worldly pursuits and the attainment of Self Realization. It comprises of an invocation and 18 verses. So it is quite easily readable in one sitting. At the bottom of this post you can see links to free online resources that I used for this post.


Here the concept of infinite Self is described–That is complete, this is complete. This completeness comes from that completeness. When you take this completeness from that completeness, completeness remains. Om Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!

(Rejoice students of math, concept of infinity defined!)

Main text of Isha Upanishad

This Upanishad appears in Sukla-Yajur-Veda. Sage Datyang Aadarvanar is giving advice to his son, who is a normal householder. It appears that his son is seeking guidance on whether to pursue worldly success or to renounce everything and become focused only on the Self. It almost appears that the son came to the father feeling that others were being very successful in the worldly matters and he is not sure if he should try to compete there or join his father’s path of renunciation. So here goes the advice of an enlightened sage to his son.

1. Isha (Self) resides in everything in this world. So give up the sense of your egotistic ownership and do not covet anyone else’s wealth.

2. You, like everyone else, want to live for a hundred years. You must perform eternal duties without attachment. That is the only way to keep work from clinging to you.

3. Those who commit suicide go to the dark underworld. (It appears that the son was quite depressed).

4. Isha (Self) is everywhere and beyond our mind and perception.

5. It moves and remains still. It is far and also near. It is inside all this and also outside.

6. He who perceives the Self in all beings, and all beings in the Self, does not hate anyone (of course assuming that there is no self-loathing).

7. With such a realization (that the Self is in all), there is no possibility of grief or delusion.

8. This Self (Isha) has assigned us our eternal duty. (So perform them without attachment).

9 - 14. These verses teach us about balancing the worldly pursuits with spiritual pursuit. It is a good way for most of us to think who are householders with duties to our families and communities.

9 - 11. Those who pursue only worldly gains or only focus on the physical manifested world are destined for darkness; but those who pursue only the Self or only the unmanifest are destined for greater darkness.

10 - 12. The wise tell us that one thing is obtained from pursuing worldly duties and another by pursuing the Self.

11 - 14. So pursue worldly gains to attain success in this life and pursue the Self to attain success beyond this life.

15 - 16. The truth is hidden. The metaphor is the Sun, which we can’t really see as it is too bright. So, O Sun God, give up your radiance so I can see you. For I am one with Truth and the Self (and hence you).

17. Breath becomes one with air and body becomes one with ashes. Only our actions and thoughts are remembered through our Will. (This is an argument of what continues beyond this life and hence connects our actions and thoughts in this life to the afterlife).

18. O Fire, O Isha, you know all our actions from the past. Lead us on the right path so we may enjoy the fruits of our good deeds. Destroy the tendencies to do on the wrong path (which maybe due to residual actions from the past). We pray to you for the above by offering our prayers.








5. A translation and commentary is available online from Aurobindo at


6. You can also see the text at which is a great project run by my friend Sid Gautam.