The One Appearing as Many

The Shvetashvatara Upanishad

Passages for Meditation

May the Lord of Love, who projects himself
Into the universe of myriad forms
Through maya, from whom all beings come,
To whom all beings finally return,
May he grant us the grace of wisdom.

He is the fire and the sun, and the moon
And the stars. He is the air and the sea,
And the creator Prajapati.

He is this boy, he is that girl; he is
This man, he is that woman, and he is
This old man, too, tottering on his staff.
His face is seen everywhere.

He is the blue bird, he is the green bird
With red eyes; he is the thundercloud, and
He is the seasons and the seas; he has
No beginning, he has no end. He is
The source from whom all the worlds evolve.

From his divine power of maya comes
Forth this magical show of name and form,
Of you and me, which casts the spell of pain
And pleasure. When we pierce through the magic,
We see the One who appears as many.

Two birds of beautiful plumage, comrades
Inseparable, live on the same tree.
One bird eats the fruit of pleasure and pain;
The other looks on without eating.

Forgetting our divine origin, we
Become ensnared in the world of maya
And bewail our helplessness. But when we
See the Lord of Love in all his glory,
Adored by all, we go beyond sorrow.

What use are the scriptures to anyone
Who knows not the one source from whom they come,
In whom all gods and worlds abide? Only
Those who realize him as ever present
In their hearts attain abiding joy.

The Lord, who is the supreme magician,
Brings forth out of himself all the scriptures,
Oblations, sacrifices, spiritual
Disciplines, past and present, and the whole
Universe. Though he is not visible,
He remains hidden in the hearts of all.

Know him to be the supreme magician
Who has brought all the worlds out of himself.
Know that all beings in the universe
Partake of his divine splendor.

Know him to be the supreme magician
Who has become boy and girl, bird and beast.
He is the bestower of all blessings,
And his grace fills the heart with peace profound.

Know him to be the supreme source of all
The gods, support of the universe,
And sower of the golden seed of life.
May he grant us the grace of wisdom.

Know him to be the supreme God of gods,
From whom all the worlds draw their breath of life.
He rules every creature from within.
May he be worshipped by everyone.

Know him to be the supreme pervader,
In whom the whole universe is smaller
Than the smallest atom. May he, Shiva,
Fill our heart with infinite peace.

Know him to be the supreme guardian
Of the cosmos, protecting all creatures
From within. May he, Shiva, in whom all
Are one, free us from the bonds of death.

Know him to be the Supreme One, hidden
In the hearts of all as cream is in milk
And yet encompassing the universe.
May he, Shiva, free us from all bondage.

Know him to be the supreme architect
Who is enshrined in the hearts of all.
Know him in the depths of meditation.
May he grant us immortality.

Know him to be the supreme source of all
Religions, ruler of the world of light,
Where there is neither day nor night, neither
What is nor what is not, but only Shiva.
He is beyond the reach of the mind.
He alone is. His glory fills all worlds.

He is beyond the reach of the eye.
He alone is. May he, Shiva, reveal
Himself in the depths of meditation
And grant us immortality.
I live in fear of death, O Lord of Love;
I seek refuge at your feet. Protect me,
Protect us, man and woman, cow and horse.
May the brave ones who seek you be released
From the bondage of death.

The Upanishads are the mystical documents of the Vedas, the center of India's scriptural canon. This passage has been translated for meditation by Easwaran and is published in his spiritual anthologies, “God Makes the Rivers to Flow” and “Timeless Wisdom.” The audio recording is by Eknath Easwaran’s wife, Christine Easwaran.