The ईशोपनिषद् (Isha-Upanishad, also known as Vajasaneyi Samhita Upanishad) is among the shortest but most powerful Upanishads and forms the final 40th chapter of the Yajur Veda. It is a unique Upanishad, being the only one that is directly attached to the Vedas. Its basis is deeply philosophical and is uniquely embraced by all the major branches of Sanatan Dharma’s philosophies, inclusive of the Advaita, Dvaita, and Trait branches.

The Isha Upanishad also posits the unification of thought, word, and action principle so that one can aspire to live a full life span being engaged in good actions and the pursuit of Self-Realization as within the Supreme Consciousness. The final verse of the Upanishad asserts that “I am He”, thus, one becomes unified with the Divinity within.

The study of this Upanishad is important for our physical, emotional, and spiritual advancement.

Click here for the audio of these verses.
Click here for Swami Rama’s discourse of the Ishopanishad

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते ।
पूर्णस् पूर्णमादा पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥

Poorṇamadah poorṇamidam
poorṇaat poorṇamudachyate.
Poorṇasya poorṇamaadaaya

God is perfect and his creations are perfect. Out of the perfect comes perfection. Any negative (thought or feeling) being experienced by us comes as a result of a misunderstanding of the laws of perfection.

Note: This verse is the peace/invocation/introduction verse of the Ishopanishad. It also is present in the Braahman Grantha, Brihadaranyak Upanishad, Isha Upanishad, Paingala Upanishad. The substantive mantras of the Ishopanishad (hereunder) form the core of the 40th Chapter of the Yajur Veda.

पूर्णमदः all that is thorough, complete, perfect (पूर्ण complete, perfect, thorough अदः that) पूर्णमिदम् All this is perfect, complete, thorough {पूर्ण complete, perfect, thorough इदम् this) पूर्णात् from completeness, from perfection पूर्णमुदच्यते perfection comes, rises (पूर्ण complete, perfect, thorough उदच्यते proceed, come forth) पूर्णस् From completeness पूर्णमादा removing from perfection (पूर्ण complete, perfect, thorough आदा haven taken, having delivered, proving) पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते Only perfection remains (पूर्ण complete, perfect, thorough एव really, thus अवशिष्यते remains, be left as remaining पूर्ण completeness, perfection एव truly, singularly अवशिष remains, remnant)

ईशावा्यमिदꣳ सर्वं यत्किञ् जगतयां जगत् ।
ते त्यक्ते भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ॥ १॥

Eeshaa-vaasyam-idaṁ sarvaṁ
yatkiñca jagatyaaṁ jagat.
Tena tyaktena bhuñjeethaa
maa gṛidhaḥ kasya-sviddhanam.

One Supreme God rules the entire creation and the earth on which we live. He is the Creator of the world in which we live as well as all that exists in the world; all animate and inanimate. Enjoy His Creation with detachment and surrender, that is, knowing that it is all by His Grace. Never covet whatever is with anyone else.

Kasya Svidhanam – whose wealth is it really? This verse gives us the knowledge that the world, the materials of the world are created by the One Omnipresent God who is the true power of everything. Whatever we want and need has been created for our fulfilment, but we are cautioned to enjoy the material world with the realisation that we shall leave it behind. All riches and all possessions will be left behind since none of it is truly ours. This first verse and the final two verses remind us of the true owner of the world and that we are reduced to ashes and memories.

ईश the ruler, Lord Supreme आवायम् for living, for habitation इदम् this सर्वम् all, every, in entirety यत् कीम् whatever, whatsoever जगताम् of the world, the living and moving beings in the world जगत् the world (upon/in which the beings live, reside) ते by that त्यक्ते renounced, surrendered भुञ्जीथा you can enjoy मा not गृधः lust, covet, own, possess कस् ्विद् anyone’s, of whom धनम््वि wealth, property, possessions.

कुर्वन्ेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषे्छतꣳ समाः ।
एवं त्वयि ्यथेतोऽस्ति कर्म लिप्यते नरे ॥ २॥

Kurvan-ne-veha karmaaṇi
jijeeviṣhe-chhataṁ samaaḥ.
Evaṁ tvayi na-anyathe-to’sti
na karma lipyate nare

Endeavor to live a fully meaningful and enjoyable life by performing such actions that would not destroy the purity of your own soul. Do not let yourself be smeared or impacted negatively by your own actions.

With everything give to us (per first verse) we are reminded here to use (not abuse) everything for righteous and responsible living. Do not enjoy at the detriment of others. Life a full life without bringing yourself down.

कुर्वन् doing, acting, performing इह here, in this world एव truly, indeed कर्माणि actions, works जिजीविषेत् one may wish to live शतम् hundred समाः years एवम् thus, in such a manner त्वयि in you, on you not अन्यथा otherwise अस्ति it is not कर्म actions (from actions) लिप्यते attached to, smeared by, impacted by नरे on a person.

असुर्ाम ते लोका अन्धे तमसाऽऽवृताः ।
ताꣳस्ते प्रेत्ाभिगच्छन्ति े के ात्महनो जनाः ॥ ३॥

Asuryaa naama te lokaa
andhena tamasaavṛitaaḥ.
Taaṁste pretyaa-bhigacchanti
ye ke caatmahano janaaḥ

Those who, by their own actions, destroy their souls can only achieve the darkness of ignorance and sin (as the outcome of selfishness and greed). Our re-birth is accorded to our own actions; thus self-destructive habits will yield blindness to light, ignorance and further negativity. 

Note: Verse 1 (eesha-avaasyam) advises us to enjoy the creations of God without attachment/ownership and to ensure we are not destroyed by covetousness and possessiveness. Verse 2 (kurvanne veha) teaches us to live a full lifespan by being free from negative thoughts and actions. This verse (asurya naam) gives the outcome if we do not adhere to the teaching of the first two verses. This verse practically says what we sow, we shall reap. If we destroy our own light, then we will become blind to wisdom.

असुर्ाः sunless (absence of light/wisdom), demonic ाम indeed those named ते they, those लोक worlds अन्धे blindness तमसा ignorance, darkness अवृताः enveloped in, hidden ता् them ते they प्रेत् having died, in their death अभिगछति resort to, go near, approach े के any person whatsoever आत्महनः destroyer of own soul, self-slayers (आत्म soul/self हनः killer, destroyer) जनाः people

अनेजदेकं मनसो जवीयो ैनद्देवा आप्ुवन्पूर्वमर्षत् ।
तद्धावतोऽन्ानत्ेति तिष्ठत्तस्मि्नपो मातरिश्वा दधाति ॥ ४॥

Anejadekaṁ manaso javeeyo nainad-devaa
aapnuvan poorvamarṣhat
Taddhaavato’nyaanatyeti tiṣṭhat
tasminnapo maatariśhvaa dadhaati

He is unmoving and immovable, yet is swifter than the mind, flowing faster than anything made by God, yet firmly still and motionless. He is here and beyond, in front of all, yet within and beyond all. That Master of Life establishes everything.

अनेजत् unmoving, immovable एकम् one मनसः from the mind, of the mind जवीः quicker, swifter not एवत् this, it देवाः (made by) God आप्ुवन् reach, met up with, overtook पूर्वम् in front, preceding अर्षत् progress, moving smoothly तत् that धावतः flowing. running अन्् others अत्ेति passes by, passes beyond, moving on तिष्ठत् standing firmly, remaining still/firm तस्मि् in that अपः work, action, also water मातरिश्वा the Master of life दधाति establishes, places, puts.

तदेजति तन्नैजति तद्दूरे तद्वन्तिके ।
तदन्तरस् सर्वस् तदु सर्वस् बाह्यतः ॥ ५॥

Tadejati tannaijati
tad doore tadvantike.
Tadantarasya sarvasya
tadu sarvasyaasya baahyataḥ

He is non-moving, yet moves all and is the motion within everything. He is everything that is far and yet everything that is close to us. He is everything within us and everything outside of us.

तत् that एजति moves तत् that not एजति moves तत् that दूरे is far तत् that उ also अन्तिके is near तत् that अन्तः within अस्य of this सर्वस् all this तत् that उ also सर्वस् all of everything अस्य of this वाह्यतः outside, external

यस्तु सर्वाणि भूताात्मन्ेवाुपश्यति ।
सर्वभूतेषु ात्माततो विजुगुप्सते ॥ ६॥

Yastu sarvaaṇi bhootaani
Sarvabhooteṣhu chaatmaanaṁ
tato na vijugupsate

That person who can realise that the Supreme One is within every one and every creation – and also recognizes that every being is within the Supreme, such a person shall prosper.

ः he who तु indeed, but सर्वाणि all, every, wholly भूताि (all) existences, beings आत्मनि in the self एव surely, indeed अनुपश्यति beholds, see सर्व all, everything भूतेषु within all beings, in all existence and आत्मा the self ततः from Him, of the One, thereafter from it not विजुगुप्सते shrinks, conceals, hide, disappear

यस्मिसर्वाणि भूताात्मैवाभूद्विजानतः ।
तत्र को मोहः कः शोकः एकत्वमनुपश्यतः ॥ ७॥

Yasmin sarvaaṇi bhootaani
Tatra ko mohaḥ kaḥ śhokah

That person who realises and understands that everything, all beings, all creation is therein in the Almighty and that the All-Seeing One is in all beings, then there is no grief, confusion, bewilderment or sorrow.

यस्मि् in whom सर्वाणि all, everything, भूताि beings आत्मा the Self एव indeed, truly, so अभूत् has become, was विजानतः understanding, knowing, discerning तत्र there, therein कः whom, which (how) मोहः delusion, bewilderment, non-consciousness कः who, which शोकः grief, affliction, sorrow, flame, heat एकत्वम् oneness अनुपश्यतः from the all-seeing One.

पर्यगा्छुक्रमकायमव्रणमस्ाविरꣳ शुद्धमपापविद्धम् ।
कविर्मनीषी परिभूः ्वयम्भूर्ाथातथ्यतोऽर्था
व्यदधा्छाश्वतीभ्ः समाभ्ः ॥ ८॥

Sa paryagaach-chhukram-akaayam-
avraṇam-ashnaaviraṁ śhuddham-apaapaviddham.
Kavirmaneeṣee paribhooḥ svayambhoor-
vyadadhaachh-śhaaśhvateebhyaḥ samaabhyaḥ.

That Almighty is all around, all-existent, all-pervading and eternal. He is the light of all objects and the objects themselves. He is unblemished, formless and pure. He is here, there and everywhere, the truth of everything, the motive and aim for which all exists. He places everything in place and orderly, purposive place for eternity. He changes all and is Himself Changeless. He is perceived by the intellect of the wise and thoughtful ones. 

ः He, it is He पर्यगात् has gone all around, permeate, approach near शुक्रम् bright, glowing अकायम् bodiless अव्रणम् unblemished, without scar/mark of imperfection अस्ाविरम् without sinews शुद्धम् pure, bright and clean अपापविद्धम् not evil, untouched by evil, unpierced by evil कविः intelligent one, the Seer, knower, prophet मनीषी the Thinker, thoughtful one परिभुः the pervading force, One who is everywhere ्वयम्भुः Self-existing, independent ाथातथ्यतः perfectly true, from the truth अर्था् objects, purposive, aim, motive व्यदधात् placed apart, in orderly fashion शाश्वतीभ्ः from all eternity, eternal समाभ्ः from years without change, everlasting and unchanging

अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति ेऽविद्ामुपासते
ततो भू इव ते तमो उ विद्ाꣳ रताः ॥ ९॥

Andhaṁ tamaḥ praviśhanti
Tato bhooya iva te tamo
ya u vidyaayaaṁ rataaḥ

Those who glorify ignorance, who promote the lack of training and education are bound to be surrounded and swallowed by ignorance. Those who promote and embrace wisdom and who follow the path of the wise will get the delight of wisdom.

अन्धम् blind, cannot see or perceive तमः darkness, gloom, misery प्रविशन्ति enter, get to, reach े they who अविद्ाम् ignorance, lack of wisdom, lack of reason उपासते (they) follow, (they) sit near तत: from that भूः into a greater degree इव like, as if ते they तम: darkness, gloom े they who उ on the other hand, (as emphasis) विद्ाम् in the knowledge. in wisdom, perceiving रताः have attachment/devotion/delight.

अन्यदेवाहुर्विद्ययाऽन्यदाहुरविद्यया ।
इति शुश्रुम धीराणां े नस्तद्विचचक्षिरे ॥ १०॥

Iti śhuśhruma dheeraaṇaaṁ
ye nastadvi-chachakṣhire.

(In life) that which is derived from wisdom, knowledge and skill is quite different from what is derived from lack of knowledge and skills. The wise ones always teach us to differentiate between wisdom and illusion.

अन्यत् other, different from एव verily, indeed आहुः it is said, (they said, they spoke) विद्यया by the Knowledge, in philosophy अविद्यया by ignorance, lack of wisdom इति thus शुश्रुम having heard, hearing धीराणाम् (from) the wise ones, the skilled/trained े those who नः to us तत् That विचचक्षिरे revealed (to understanding), shone, perceived.

विद्याविद्या यस्तद्वेदोभयꣳ सह
अविद्यया मृत्ुं तीर्त्वा विद्ययाऽमृतमश्ते ॥ ११॥

yastad-vedobhayaṁ saha
Avidyayaa mṛityuṁ teertvaa

That person who knows and understands and can differentiate between knowledge and illusion will overcome the fear (ignorance) of death and will enjoy the true meaning of immortality.

विद्ाम् Knowledge, wisdom, deep philosophy and अविद्ाम् Ignorance, non-perception ः who तत् that (person) उभयम् as both सह in one, along with, together वेद knows, perceives अविद्यया by Ignorance, with ignorance, with lack of knowledge मृर्ुम् death तीर्त्वा cross over, cross beyond विद्यया with/by the Knowledge अमृतम् Immortality अश्ते arrives, enjoys.

अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति ेऽसम्भूतिमुपासते
ततो भू इव ते तमो उ सम्भूत्ाꣳ रताः ॥ १२॥

Andhaṁ tamaḥ praviśhanti
Tato bhooya iva te tamo
ya u sambhootyaaṁ rataaḥ.

Those who embrace solely the concept of a manifest world, (that is one who only focuses only on the concept that the world is created or born ) can be said to embrace ignorance. of greater ignorance would be those who embrace the completely opposite concept that the world is unmanifest or un-born.

अन्धम् blind तमः darkness, gloom प्रविशन्ति enter, attain े who असम्भूतिम् non-existence, non-birth, destruction उपासते follow, worship, sit near ततः than that भूः becoming, than that, in greater degree इव as if ते they तमः gloomy, darkness who, that, which उ on the other hand (emphasis) सम्भूत्ा in birth alone रताः are engrossed, take delight.

This verse teaches us that one ought not to become engrossed in the mysteries of whether the world is created or not, whether it is destroyed or not. Instead focus on the concept of living in the world, enjoying the things of the world without becoming attached to them.

सम्भूतिं विशं यस्तद्वेदोभयꣳ सह
विाशे मृत्ुं तीर्त्वा सम्भूत्ाऽमृतमश्ते ॥ १४॥

Sambhootim-cha vinaaśham-cha
yastad-vedobhayaṁ saha.
Vinaaśhena mṛityuṁ teertvaa

That person who views birth and death alike, who is neither overcome by creation or dissolution of the world, who is neither overwhelmed by birth nor consumed by the thought of death – that person obtains immortality.

सम्भूतिम् – the birth, the origin – ca – and विशम् the annihilation, dissolution and ः he who तत् that वेद knows, perceives उभयम् both सह in one, as one, same, together विाशे by the dissolution/removal, annihilation मृत्ुम् death तीर्त्वा having crossed beyond/over सम्भुत्ा by birth, with being together अमृतम् immortality अश्ते enjoys, obtains

हिरण्मये पात्रेण सत्यस्यापिहितं मुखम् ।
तत्त्वं पूषन्नपावृणु सत्यधर्मा दृष्टये ॥ १५॥

Hiraṇmayena paatreṇa
satyasyaapihitaṁ mukham.
Tat tvaṁ pooṣhann-apaavṛiṇu
satyadharmaaya dṛiṣhṭaye.

The real truth, pure and golden is kept within and is usually concealed and undiscovered. Such truth is unveiled for us to behold and experience when we are prepared to become a guardian of righteousness. 

Like a shepherd maintaining his flock, we can maintain and control our senses and interactions in the world; to not stray and become lost and to accept the truth (as explained in previous verses). This makes us part of the golden, pure truth that is God.

हिरण्मये with/by golden (purest/shining/precious) पात्रेण vessel, lid utensil सत्यस्य of truth, of reality अपिहितम् covered, concealed, hidden मुखम् the face, the mouth (speech) तत् that त्वम् – you पूषन् O guardian (like a guardian of livestock, shepherd), also, the sun, or the power that makes the sun move अपावृणु remove, uncover, unveil सत्यधर्मा for the law of the Truth, the truth of righteousness दृष्टये for seeing, beholding

पूषन्ेकर्षे यम ूर् प्राजापत् व्ूह रश्मी् समूह तेजः ।
यत्ते रूपं कल्ाणतमं तत्ते पश्यामि
ोऽसावसौ पुरुषः ोऽहमस्मि ॥ १६॥

Pooṣhanne-karṣhe yama soorya praajaapatya
vyooha raśhmeen samooha tejah.
Yatte roopaṁ kalyaaṇatamaṁ tatte paśhyaami
yo’saavasau puruṣhaḥ so’hamasmi.

O Most Powerful One, You are the force behind all creation, the guardian and caretaker of the world; You are the One without favorites, the Solitary One, the fount of Wisdom, the One who controls our life-time and the time of death, You are the illuminated Father of all, You are the force that repels and the force that attracts; You are the Source of Light and the Brilliance of the Light, You are the most blissful and illustrious force in every shape and every creature. O Most Beautiful and Blessed Prime Cause of everything, you are all of that I see and all that I realize. You are That, and That I am.

पूषन् (the one who is the force behind the Sun, the One who is the guardian of his flock (like a Shepherd), One who is hermit/one who gave up attachment एकर्षे (एक ऋषि) the Solitary One, the Wise One, the Sage यम Controller of life-span, Yama – god of death, Charioteer ूर् Sun, Illuminated One प्राजापत् The power that is the Father of All व्ुह move apart, push off रश्मी् ray of light, beam समूह move together तेजः the brilliance of light. the splendour यत् who, which what, that ते (for) you, thy रूपम् form, shape, figure कल्ाणतमम् most blessed, most beautiful, illustrious तत् that ते in You पश्यामि I behold, I see, I realise ः who असौ there/that पुरुषः Purusha, Prime Cause of the world ः He अहम् अस्मि I am

वाुरनिलममृतमथेदं भस्मांतꣳ शरीरम् ।
ॐ क्रतो ्मर कृतꣳ ्मर क्रतो ्मर कृतꣳ ्मर ॥ १७॥

bhasmaaṁtaṁ śhareeram.
Om krato smara kṛitaṁ smara
krato smara kṛitaṁ smara.

The essence of life is immortal, but the body is reduced to ashes. The intelligence, the will power (ego) and life is reduced to memories only.

वाुः the breath अनिलम् life, air, wind (the essence of life) अमृतम् immortal अथ but, moreover इदम् this भस्मातम् ending in ashes शरीरम् body ओम् Om क्रतो will-power, intelligence ्मर remember कृतम् that which was done.

अग्ने नय सुपथा राये अस्माविश्वानि देव वयुि विद्वान् ।
युयोध्यस्मज्जुहुराणमेनो भूयिष्ठां ते नमौक्तिं विधेम ॥ १८॥

Agne naya supathaa raaye asmaan
viśhvaani deva vayunaani vidvaan.
bhooyiṣhṭhaaṁ te namauktiṁ vidhema.

O source of energy, may your path of righteousness bring us riches/wealth/luxury. O universal master, bless us with exemplary dutiful actions and all-encompassing knowledge. Cast away from us any belittling debasing sinful tendencies. To you, I give my profound salutations and praise and adoration and worship

अग्ने God, the Source of Life and Energy नय lead सुपथा by a good path राये property, wealth, possessions अस्मा् us विश्वानि  all-pervading, whole, entire world देव God वयुि all things manifest; path ways विद्वान् knowing, understanding ोधि remove, ward off, make war with, dispose अस्मत् from us जुहुराणाम् the devious attraction to sin, stumbled, crookish एनः crime, sin, evil, unhappiness, sorrow, depression भूिष्ठाम् most abundant, most important ते to thee नम उक्तिम् homage, veneration, respect विधेम we worship, offer.

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