Sanskrit: पूषन्नेकर्षे यम सूर्य प्राजापत्य व्यूह रश्मीन् समूह तेज-isha upanishad verse 16

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by PhoebusUK, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. PhoebusUK New Member

    I shall be extremely grateful for an exact translation (word for word) of the following mantra from isha upanishad:

    पूषन्नेकर्षे यम सूर्य प्राजापत्य व्यूह रश्मीन् समूह तेजः ।
    यत्ते रूपं कल्याणतमं तत्ते पश्यामि योऽसावसौ पुरुषः सोऽहमस्मि ॥१

    In particular, I'm having difficulty with the grammar and exact meanings of the following words:

    1. व्यूह

    is this meant in the sense of 'distribute'?

    2. समूह

    this means 'gather' or 'cluster up' - how then do you interpret those four words together ( व्यूह रश्मीन् समूह तेजः)



    this word I find particularly confusing - and it is also very crucial to the meaning of the mantra. I find the sandhi in this word difficult to disassemble.

    thanks for any assistance

  2. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I believe these translations which I've found online are very decent and they explain the meaning of every word. Having said this, I don't believe my own attempt can bring more elucidation than the existing ones.


    "O Pushan (sun, nourisher), the only Seer (sole traveller of the heavens), controller of all (Yama), Surya, son of Prajapati; disperse Thy rays and gather up Thy burning light; I behold Thy glorious resplendent form; I am He, the Purusha within Thee."


    O, Nourisher, O lonely Courser
    of the heavens, O Regulator,
    O Sun, thou offspring of Prajapati,
    Remove Thy rays, gather up thy effulgence,
    So that I may see that which is
    Thy most auspicious effulgence.
    The Person that is in Thee, That am I.

    (I like this one)

    3. Hindi (as you mentioned it as your native language)

    हे पूषन, एकाकी ॠषि, नियन्ता, सूर्य, प्रजापति के पुत्र
    खींच लो अपना प्रकाश, फ़ैलाओ अपनी किरणें.
    देखता हूं तुम्हारा कल्याणकारी रूप
    (I'd go for dekh luuN here)
    मैं ही हूं वह व्यक्ति खडा है जो सुदूर में..

    A couple of remarks:

    1. vyuuha: the sense is to disperse, push away (vi+vah --- vi+uuhati-present), vyuuha is the imperative.

    2. samuuha: to bring or gather together, to collect (saM+vah --- saM+uuhati-present), samuuha is the imperative. You will be familiar with the noun in Hindi in this sense.

    3. yatte: yat+te = yad + te. yad means 'in order that', te means your.

    3. yas/yah: that who (correlative pronoun); asau (the 'a' has assimilated into the preceding 'o'): that, yonder. The only logical conclusion is that the second word is ''asau'' too, but I don't really understand what it's precise function is, probably locative; I'd have to open some books but I'm afraid they are lost under a thick layer of dust!

  3. PhoebusUK New Member

    Thanks a lot for the clarifications. And I'm grateful for the links - they don't really come up on routine google searches!

    As regards my query (4) is it possible that the last word is vasau from the root -vas in the sense of dwell / reside? (Sorry if I've made a laughably silly mistake - my knowledge of sanskrit grammar is still quite rudimentary). This would make the final meaning of the verse go thus - yah - who; asau - that; vasau - lives - so that I can see the benevolent face of the man who dwells within you, and that is me.
  4. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    You are very welcome and I'm glad if my incomplete reply was of any merit.

    I don't think 'vas' is possible but I'll keep on thinking on it. It seems possible that the second 'asau' correlates to a noun mentioned previously.

    There are Sanskrit experts who visit the forum sporadically so I hope sooner or later the mystery can be solved. Do come back if you have any new ideas, and so will I.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  5. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Au101, I think you have missed this one. Could you please have a look at what I said and correct it? Perhaps you can solve the mystery of the second ''asau''? Thank you.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  6. Au101 Senior Member

    England, English (UK)
    Hi Marrish, I did miss this one, yes. Thanks for the 'heads-up' :)

    Okay, so we have:

    Pūṣann ekarṣe yama sūrya prājāpatya vyūha raśmīn samūha tejaḥ;
    Yat te rūpaṃ kalyāṇatamaṃ tat te paśyāmi yo 'sāv asau puruṣaḥ so 'ham asmi.

    • Pūṣan is the vocative singular of pūṣan- which is the name of a deity connected with the sun and, from here, it comes to just mean the sun. (The doubling of the n is due to saṃdhi)
    • ekarṣe is the vocative singular of ekarṣi-, from eka- + ṛṣi-. This means the only/original/first ṛṣi/philosopher/sage.
    • yama is the vocative singular of yama-
    • sūrya is the vocative singular of sūrya-
    • prājāpatya is the vocative singular of prājāpatya-, it means a descendent of Prajāpati, or someone relating to Prajāpati
    • vyūha is a second person, singular, imperative - as marrish correctly points out. It is from vi- + ūh- (1P). The grammarians recognise ūh- as a separate root, although - as marrish says - it is almost certainly derived from (and very much related to) vah-. vyūh- means to disperse.
    • raśmīn is the accusative plural of raśmi-, meaning ray
    • samūha is - again - the second person, singular, imperative of sam- + ūh- (1P, 1A). It means gather.
    • tejaḥ is the accusative singular of tejas-, light.
    • yad is the accusative singular, neuter of the relative pronoun yad-. I'll come back to this. It becomes yat through saṃdhi.
    • te is the enclitic form of the genitive singular of yuṣmad-. It means your/thy.
    • rūpam is the accusative singular of rūpa-, form, beauty.
    • kalyāṇatamam is the accusative singular of kalyāṇatama-, the superlative of kalyāṇa-, so it means the most beautiful
    • tad is the accusative singular, neuter form of the relative pronoun tad-. I'll come back to this. It becomes tat through saṃdhi.
    • paśyāmi is in the first person, singular, present tense and it means, I see, it is from the root paś (4P, 4A), which is used in place of the root dṛś (P, A) in the present stem.
    • yaḥ is the nominative singular, masculine form of the relative pronoun yad-. It becomes yo due to saṃdhi with the following asau. The initial a of asau is dropped, leaving yo 'sau
    • asau is the nominative singular, masculine form of the demonstrative pronoun adas-, meaning that. It becomes asāv due to saṃdhi with the following asau. Thus, we have yaḥ asau asau becoming yo 'sāv asau. For this reason, it cannot be vasau, because then we would have yo 'sau vasau. Also, there is no finite verb form vasau of the root vas that i know of. There are a couple of derived nouns vasa- and vasi-, which mean dwelling. Vasau would be the nominative/accusative/vocative dual of vasa- and the locative singular of vasi-, but neither of these seem to make much sense here anyway.
    • puruṣaḥ is the nominative, singular of puruṣa- meaning man, human
    • saḥ is the nominative, singular, masculine form of the relative pronoun tad-. It means he. It becomes so due to saṃdhi with aham (see above).
    • aham is the nominative singular form of the personal pronoun asmad-, it means I
    • asmi is the first person, singular, present form of the root as- (2P, 2A), meaning to be

    So, to answer your 2nd question, व्यूह रश्मीन् समूह तेजः, means disperse your rays, gather up your light

    Now, for the rest of the translation. Pūṣann ekarṣe yama sūrya prājāpatya is simply a string of vocatives, referring to the subject of this verse. Pūṣan is a solar deity, or simply the sun and he nourishes. There is a lot of mythology I don't really know about present in this verse, but I suppose ekarṣi is the first ṛṣi, or the only/lonely ṛṣi. In the translations we get the idea that the only ṛṣi is the sole traveller in the heavens, the only journeyer, the only seer; so this must, then, be the sun also. We have the idea that the sun, as it journeys through the sky, is like a lonely, or - perhaps - original Seer/philosopher. Yama is the 'regulator,' or 'controller of all' and - I believe - was also born from the Sun. But I think here were just supposed to have the idea that the sun is the regulator. Sūrya is obviously the sun, and Prajāpati is a creator deity, i think also related to the Sun. So we have a lot of Vedic mythology at the start of this verse, which I'm afraid is a bit beyond my reach. If you know your Upaniṣadic mythology, perhaps you're already comfortable with this, if not, you may like to read up on it to fully understand this verse. I think, though, that it's safe to say that our sentence starts with a number of addresses to the sun. The sun is then asked to remove its rays and gather up its blinding light. So, perhaps the sun is too bright to be seen properly, so it's being asked to do these things so that it can be looked upon and its true form may be discerned. That would have been my interpretation, but I did a bit of reading, and some people seem to think that the sun is essentially being asked to distill its rays and light into its most perfect form and this is a metaphor for the truth that one comes to understand by reading the upaniṣads. Either way, the justification comes next. Here's where I have trouble.

    This is my understanding. So, we have yad agreeing with rūpam in case, number and gender (accusative, singular, neuter) and I think that the rūpam is the object of the verb paśyāmi. We then have te qualifying rūpam and kalyāṇatamam as an adjective of rūpam. So, we have 'that form of yours which is most beautiful', we then have tad, agreeing with rūpam, as the correlative form and a repetition of the te. So, I'm not sure if this is clear, but i think the translation should be something like 'that form of yours which is most beautiful, that (is the form) of yours I see'. There may be an implied sense of 'so that', as we get in the second translation, but I think the first translation makes more sense grammatically. So the sun disperses its rays, it gathers its lustre, and now I see its most beautiful form.

    If this is true, now we can explain asāv asau, asau is the nominative singular masculine of adas- and the nominative singular feminine of adas-. The locative singular masculine of adas- is amuṣmin and in the feminine its amuṣyām, so I don't think it can be locative. Instead I depart slightly from the translation, I think it might be something like 'that man who is beyond' (adas- can sometimes mean, 'yonder', 'beyond') or, perhaps 'that man who is that', or 'that man who is that (man)', with these two giving a sense of the eternal man, or the enlightened one. I think the idea that a few commentators have is that by reading the upaniṣads you gain a more perfect knowledge and the metaphor of this verse is that you see the sun more clearly, or in its most perfect form, and so the analogy is that you see the world in a more perfect form. Hence - 'he am I' (so 'ham asmi.)

    You may want to look at Islam Kotob's 'Upanishads'. It was published by Islamic Books, I think.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  7. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Dear Au101, please allow me to express my gratitude for your monumental effort in this thread, not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of the enquirer and all students of Sanskrit in this forum! Bearing your "signature" in mind, a well known Sanskrit poet said the following. Perhaps, you might be able to find the original words of Bhartarihari, which Iqbal, possibly the greatest Urdu poet of the 20th century translated.

    پھول کی بتی سے کٹ سکتا ہے ہیرے کا جگر
    مردِ ناداں پر کلامِ نرم و نازک بے اثر
    phuul kii pattii se kaT saktaa hai hiire kaa jigar
    mard-e-naadaaN par kalaam-e-narm-o-naazuk be-asar

    (The heart of a diamond can be cut with a flower petal
    yet, delicate words are of no use on a man of ignorance).
  8. Au101 Senior Member

    England, English (UK)
    You're welcome :) I'll keep an eye out for that verse for you, but I'm afraid nothing comes to mind right now.

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