The Isha Upanishad

Introduced by John Scott Montecristo  

isha-upanishadisha-upanishadThis imitation translation of the Isha Upanishad, the first to be done in trimetrical rhyming quatrains—i.e., with three stresses per line—was composed over 10 years ago as a literary exercise by Lasha Darkmoon.

An imitation translation, a genre of translation widely recognized and practiced by many poets, can also be described as an “impressionistic” translation. Here an attempt is made to imitate the original and give an interpretative impression of it, conveying its essential meaning and essence. This is the very opposite of a literate, word-for-word translation that strives for 100 percent linguistic accuracy.

The difference between a literate translation and an “imitation translation” is analogous to the difference between a photograph and an impressionistic painting.

Other shorter Sanskrit translations by Lasha Darkmoon, published in 2006 in the Poetry magazine Acumen, can be read here: Three Sanskrit Poems.


MANUSCRIPT PAGE OF THE ISHA UPANISHADThe shortest of the Upanishads—just over one page in prose or 60 lines in this verse translation—the Isha Upanishad  encapsulates the essence of the Brahminical worldview that was to achieve its final flowering in the Bhagavad Gita.

The “Self” referred to in the poem is synonymous with the Atman, the divine element in man, which is said to achieve enlightenment and salvation when it merges with Brahman, the Supreme Reality.

For more detailed discussion on the relationship between Atman, Brahman and Parabrahman — decribed by Christmas Humphreys as “the indescribable Ultimate” — see Darkmoon’s essay In Quest of the Unknown Brahman.

The two concluding  verses of the Isha Upanishad, recited as a mantra at the moment of death, remain to this day among the most hallowed utterances of Hinduism.




In all things underneath
the sky and everywhere
where light and shadow fall
the Self is present there.

Let not your heart hanker
for someone else’s treasure.
Cling to the Eternal,
the things that last forever.

Only then will a hundred
years of life on this earth
be worth it. Otherwise
it’s back to the wheel of birth!

There are worlds beyond death:
here demon and demoness
flit through the shadows,
and men lost in darkness.

The Self wins every race
moving or standing still.
Softly now, silently
its way becomes our will.

The Self is in and out,
it’s far off and it’s near.
See in all things your Self
and so lose all your fear.

This is the pearl you’re seeking,
here is the magic ring—
the world all ONE and shining
and you in everything!

The Self is everywhere
radiant and incorporeal,
without flesh and bone,
beyond good and evil.

Here is the ONE who sees
everything, and knows all:
the infinite transcendent,
the immanent eternal.

The face of truth lies hidden
behind the veils of seeming—
we see the world and wonder
if we could be dreaming.

Remove O Brahm our blinkers
and let our eyes behold
the SUN in its true glory,
its orb of burning gold!

O Lord of all creation
life-giving Sun and sage
calm in your golden grandeur,
both Idea and Image—

you’re more than we imagine,
you shine and let us see
your beauty . . .  and you hide
behind your Mystery.

O body fall to ashes!
Soul O my soul take wing!
Remember O remember
all your ancient strivings!

 Lord of light forgive us
the sins of our long past!
Lead us out of darkness
and bring us home at last!

Source Article from

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes