28 Upanishad Quotes For Cultivating Spiritual Awareness

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The Upanishads are profound and enlightening in their overt and covert meanings. Stemming from India, they are central to Hinduism, Vedic traditions, Advaita Vedanta, and Yogic philosophy. 

In this article, we list a selection of Upanishad quotes on a variety of prominent topics to bring about some spiritual awareness in your mind.

In this article, we have collected Upanishads quotes on the following:

  • Nature Of Brahman (God) 
  • Nature Of Existence
  • The Origin of the Universe 
  • Perception, Consciousness, And The Mind
  • Meditation, Prayer, And The Results
  • Bliss 
  • Karma And Rebirth

What Are The Upanishads?

The Upanishads, which were created between 1500-1000 BCE, are a constituent of Vedanta, the final section of the Vedas. 

These ancient Hindu scriptures contain revelations concerning Brahman (God), the Ultimate Reality, and the path to enlightenment (Moksha).

The origin of the term Upanishad can be traced back to the combination of three Sanskrit words: upa- (meaning “nearby”), ni- (meaning “at a proper place or down”), and sad (meaning “to sit”). Together, they form the meaning “sitting near a teacher to receive sacred teachings.”

The Upanishads are primarily a documentation of the insights and visions perceived by sages and seers, rather than an organized philosophical system. 

These sacred texts delve into the fundamental questions about human existence and offer enlightening explanations.

The Four Principle Upanishad Quotes

The overarching theme of the Upanishads tackles the nature of reality, specifically that the individual self (Atman) is merely a projection of an Ultimate Reality (Brahman).

“Consciousness is Brahman.” (‘Consciousness is Ultimate Reality’)  – Aitareya Upanishad

“I am Brahman.” (Aham Brahmasmi)Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 

“That thou art.” (“You are Brahman.”) Chandogya Upanishad 

“This Self is Brahman.” Mandukya Upanishad 

an upanishad quote on consciousness

Nature Of Brahman

Across the Upanishads, we find an incredible collection of depictions that describe the nature of Brahman, which is also known as the Ultimate Reality. 

We can see that many enlightened yogis, such as Ramana Maharshi, Swami Vivekananda, and Sri Yukteswar, have found their revelations about Brahman in the core descriptions found in the Upanishads. Here they are translated into English.

“Than whom there is naught else higher, than whom there is naught smaller, naught greater, the One stands like a tree established in heaven. By Him, the Person, is this whole universe filled.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad

“From Brahman’s divine power comes forth all this magical show of name and form; Of you and me, Which casts the spell of pain and pleasure. 

Only when we pierce through this magic veil do we see the One who appears as many.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad 

“Knowing Him who is the origin and dissolution of the universe – the source of all virtue, the destroyer of all sins, the master of all good qualities, the immortal, and the abode of the universe – as seated in one’s own self, He is perceived as different from, and transcending, the tree of Samsara as well as time and form.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad

an upanishad quote on god

“Two birds of beautiful plumage, who are inseparable friends, reside on the self-same tree. Of these, one eats the fruits of the tree with relish while the other looks on without eating. 

Sitting on the same tree the individual soul gets entangled and feels miserable, being deluded on account of his forgetting his divine nature. 

When he sees the other, the Lord of all, whom all devotees worship, and realizes that all greatness is His, then he is relieved of his misery.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad

“God, who is one only, is hidden in all beings. He is all-pervading, and is the inner self of all creatures. He presides over all actions, and all beings reside in Him. 

He is the witness, and He is the Pure Consciousness free from the three Gunas of Nature.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad 

It moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near. It is inside all this and It is outside all this.

– Isha Upanishad 

Nature Of Existence

The Upanishads provide poetic descriptions of existence and life, and look to inform the reader about the nature of reality, in that Brahman is the ultimate truth.

“All this that we see in the world is Brahman.” 

– Chandogya Upanishad

“Brahman is Reality, Knowledge, and Infinity.” 

– Taittiriya Upanishad

Brahman alone pervades everything above and below; this universe is that supreme brahman alone. 

– Mundaka Upanishad.

The wise man beholds all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.

– Isha Upanishad

“Just as, my dear, by one clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is clay; 

Just as, my dear, by one nugget of gold all that is made of gold is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is gold.”

– Chandogya Upanishad 

an upanishad quote on existence

“As the web issues out of the spider, and is withdrawn; As plants sprout from the earth, As hair grows from the body, Even so, the sages say, This universe springs from the deathless Atman (Brahman). The source of life.” 

– Mundaka Upanishad 

“All beings that exist on the earth are born of food. They live by food, then again the food they go to at the end.” 

– Taittiriya Upanishad

Upanishad Quote on The Origin Of The Universe

The Upanishads also proclaim understanding of the origin of the universe. 

This quote fits in with a lot of spiritual and religious doctrine – that mind (or sentience) preceded matter. This is the fundamental argument for all of religion.

“In the beginning, my dear, this [universe] was Being alone, one only without a second.” 

– Chandogya Upanishad

Upanishad Quotes On Perception, Consciousness, And The Mind

The Upanishads had a lot to say about perception of the senses, the concept of consciousness, and the mind as phenomena. 

Beautifully, it makes use of analogies and outlines in a matter-of-fact manner the bondage of attachment amongst these three constructs. 

It also expresses optimism about the achievability of liberation from this bondage.

“Brahman is Consciousness.” 

– Aitareya Upanishad

an upanishad quote on nature

“You cannot see That which is the Seer of seeing; you cannot hear That which is the Hearer of hearing; you cannot think of That which is the Thinker of thought; you cannot know That which is the Knower of knowledge. 

This is your Self, that is within all; everything else but This is perishable.” 

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” 

“This Truth has to be realized here and now, in this lifetime. Do not postpone it until the next lifetime. If you do not know it this lifetime, it is the greatest loss. There cannot be any greater loss than this. This is the greatest loss imaginable.”

–  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Kena Upanishad

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

“By desire, contact, sight and delusion, the embodied soul assumes successively various forms in various places according to his deeds, just as the body grows nourished by showers of food and drink.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad

“As the ocean into which all waters flow maintains its own nature despite the water pouring in (from all sides), so, he alone attains peace into whom all desires flow in like manner; not he who seeks the objects of pleasure.” 

– Avadhuta Upanishad

“It is indeed the mind that is the cause of men’s bondage and liberation. The mind that is attached to sense-objects leads to bondage, while dissociated from sense-objects it tends to lead to liberation.” 

– Amritabindu Upanishad

“Mind alone is the samsara, man should strive to purify his thoughts, what a man thinks that he becomes, this is the eternal mystery.”

– Maitri Upanishad

an upanishad quote on the mind

Upanishad Quotes On Meditation And Prayer And The Results

The Upanishads are full of instruction, and promise of the fruits attained from following this instruction. 

“Aum. Lead me from unreal to real; lead me from darkness to light; lead me from death to immortality. Aum… peace, peace, peace.” 

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

“There is no joy in the finite; there is joy only in the Infinite.”

– Chandogya Upanishad

“With earnest effort hold the senses in check. 

Controlling the breath, regulating vital activities. As a charioteer holds back his restive horses, so does a persevering aspirant restrain his mind.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad

To the Birthless, the light of whose consciousness forever shines, belongs the city of eleven gates. He who meditates on the ruler of that city knows no more sorrow. He attains liberation, and for him there can no longer be birth or death. For the ruler of that city is the immortal Self.

– Katha Upanishad

“Who am I? How came this world? What is it? How came death and birth? Thus inquire within yourself; Great will be the benefit you will derive from such inquiry.” 

Annapurna Upanishad

“There is something beyond our mind which abides in silence within our mind. 

It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. Let one’s mind and one’s subtle body rest upon that and not rest on anything else.” 

– Maitri Upanishad

an upanishad quote on OM

“Becoming one with Brahman, the Supreme Self, is the aim of life. Knowledge of Brahman alone is the means for attaining this end. It cannot be attained by rituals.” 

– Taittiriya Upanishad

“When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal, here in this very life.” 

– Katha Upanishad

Upanishad Quotes On Bliss

According to Hindu philosophy, existence-consciousness-bliss is a natural state that is achieved through God-realization in a subjective and experiential sense. 

In the Upanishads, we see that bliss is referred to as the absence of fear and is not related to desire, whether it is fulfilled or not.

“Brahman is bliss. He who knows the bliss of Brahman fears not at any time.” 

– Taittiriya Upanishad

“Bliss is a hundredfold greater than the satisfaction of a desire.” 

– Taittiriya Upanishad

an upanishad quote on bliss

Upanishad Quotes on Karma And Rebirth

Karma, and rebirth is a prevalent theme in the Upanishads. Here this quote tells us of the inner workings of what happens and why.

“The soul is born and unfolds in a body, with dreams and desires and the food of life. And then it is reborn in new bodies in accordance with its former works. The quality of the soul determines its future body – earthly or airy, heavy or light.” 

– Shvetashvatara Upanishad

“The desire for liberation arises in human beings at the end of many births, through the ripening of their past virtuous conduct.”

– Yajur Veda

Thus the yogi is liberated step by step. Until the sins accumulated through many births are consumed, a man’s mind is not directed to Govinda (God). Through the austerities, knowledge, and deep meditation of thousands of births, his sins are destroyed, and then love of Krishna grows in his heart.

Further Information

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article and are looking for more inspiration, then why not check out our other quote articles:

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Born and raised in London, Luke is a passionate writer with a focus on travel, yoga, philosophy, and meditation. As a certified yoga teacher having studied under a swami in Rishikesh, Luke now lives in India pretty much just practising yoga, meditating and writing articles! Luke's life arc has gone from somewhat turbulent to peaceful, and he considers yoga and meditation direct methods to sustain introspective insight to manifest peace and happiness, despite life's challenges. Luke's passion for meditation has led him to complete multiple meditation retreats, where he spent almost 40 days in silence in the last two years. He practices various meditation techniques such as Vipassana, Anapana, and Metta Bhavana, each adding to his knowledge and experience of the true self. Most recently he meditated in Jaipur, India, and before that lived for a short spell in a monastery with forest monks in Northern Thailand. To Luke, yoga is more than just a physical exercise; it's a way of life that helps him cultivate a stronger mind-body connection. As a young man with arthritis, Luke understands the importance of observing and controlling his body, and yoga has been a vital tool in his journey to better health and well-being. The practice of yoga has not only helped him manage his symptoms but has also given him a new perspective on life. Luke's love for yoga and meditation is not limited to a single tradition or practice. He's fascinated by the spiritual teachings of all types of religious philosophy, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity for their essence and wisdom. His passion for spirituality is what drives him to continue learning and growing, and share his knowledge with other people. Luke in his spare time is an avid chess player, cyclist and record collector. He also has experience with addiction, and so sponsors multiple people from different walks of life in their recovery programmes.

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