Isha Upanishad - Shloka 15

Hiranmayena patrena satya-syapi-hitam mukham,
tattvam pusanna-pavrnu satya –dharmaya drstave.(15)

Truth lies concealed by golden vessel.
Do thou o Sun!
Open the entrance of that cover
So as the Truth  you so concealed
be visible to me,
a devotee, who by nature is truthful,
in the light of your illuminating Grace.

The last four verses from 14 through 18 of the Upanishad are the prayers of the seeker of Brahman who is at the verge of losing his ego-centric identity. The Madhyandina treats the 15th verse as the concluding verse of the entire work of Isavasya Upanishad while this Upanishad, as it is, consists of 18 mantras and has been accepted for Kanva reading. In Brahma Sutra, Vyasji has referred to both the recessions with equal authority and sanction. These four verses from 15th to 18th make the 15th chapter of Brihad Upanishad also.


The sun, which nourishes the world, is a source of light and energy for the entire solar system and in Vedic philosophy, it represents Brahman. Gayatri mantra has prayer of Brahman which sounds like prayer to Sun God. It is here in this verse that a person in deep concentration reaches the stage of non-ego; loss of any concept of individual identity and  at this dying moment of ego –identity he prays to God to project His Self-effulgence into him as “I am That.”

Light has all along been the central axis of human destiny, inexorably woven into the destiny of light. Vedic Mantra asks us that we move from darkness unto light, light being the symbol of realization of the Supreme Light. Aryans, Egyptians and Zoroastrians and other civilizations accepted the symbol of light as sign of self-realization and resorted to the worship of Sun and Fire as Supreme deity of Light for the unfolding of their potentialities and powers on their earthly lives.

Light is the sustaining force.  It is the light that gives life to plants, creatures, grazing animals, carnivorous animals and all others. The aura of light around human head emits his degree of greatness. This sort of emission comes from afar. God is Self-luminous, Self-effulgent. His effulgence pervades everywhere and this makes the creatures shine and be luminous. We observe that the whole universe is throbbing with light. We are essentially a part of the great manifestation of Light, the immense unfolding of light, all lights throbbing through our bones, singing in our hearts, and penetrating into our souls. They emerge out of the great Supreme Light. In the following  lines, poet Shelley truthfully seem to experience the shine of the divine brilliance  when he  spontaneous utters—

Within the cavern of man’s trackless spirit
is throned an image so intensely fair
that the adventurous thoughts that wander near it
worship, and as they kneel, tremble and fear
the shadow of its presence and the light
penetrates their dreamlike frame
till they become charged with the strength of flame

It is undisputed that consciousness is the ultimate seer as It experiences without any help of any other entity. Consciousness alone is the witness. Does a lamp need another lamp to prove its presence? We need no light to know our own presence. Consciousness is self-aware of its existence. But as it is, we do need a beam of light to feel presence of a person or object. This true consciousness with all its effulgence and unparalleled shine of golden bright rays has a reflected consciousness which is called Ego. It is projection of the mind which is inert and does not have consciousness of its own but acts as a conscious entity due to ego. Hence it acts as a knower and observer, seer and even as the experienced too. This reflected consciousness of the mind identifies itself with the world of objects and get attached to duality such as likes and dislikes, joys and sorrows, good and bad, success and failure. Far beyond even this unmanifest, there is the manifest existence, that Indestructible, the Divine Supreme, non-perishable though all others perish. It is the eternal supreme shining brightly in which all beings reside and shine and by whom all this is pervaded. 

The seer considers the whole universe as a golden plate. Being of gold, a costly metal, it is much above average, more valuable, glittering, attractive and desirable but the fact is that all that glitters is not gold. This gold plated disk serves as a delusion. It deludes and stands as a stumbling block preventing the unfolding of Truth. The conscious mind remains absorbed with attractions and allurements of this material world in educational ego and considers this physical world of objects as his supreme achievement of life-time. As a result the golden disk of this material world with all its shine covers the Supreme Consciousness that lights the entire creation. The ego-centric mind with philosophies of different hues, views and levels make human being self-centered and self-satisfied so as to forget the Reality of life. He entertains superfluous thoughts, arguments and ideas to his liking that keep him convinced and satisfied. It serves as a cover up of the Reality. As a result, the unreal, the finite and the ephemeral seem Real, Infinite and Permanent. The world of ego allures human being away from Reality and Truth of the ephemeral world which is ever changing and moving constantly in the circle of life, death and duality. Our senses, drawn to outside objects, illuminating and illusionary, work like a golden lid to the world of matter that veil the Truth behind it.

All that divides us from the ground zero to the heaven above is a very minute cover of personal identity called Ego. This has to be removed first, whatever be the cost and the will. This “I” has to be erased once and for all. Suddenly by the grace of God, it is vanished and the meditating devotee finds himself free of all identifications and notions, and all is dissolved into the ocean of Pure Undifferentiated Awareness. This is the state, the seeker wishes to reach.

The seeker now knocks at the door of Supreme Consciousness Itself. This is Pure Awareness, the Reality, the Truth. He addresses it as the great nourisher of all, fountain of life of all creatures, and is the sole illuminator of brilliant light. The seer surrenders himself to the omnipotent, omniscient Pure Consciousness and prays that let rays of light of Reality torch his path, let the Light nourish him and make him realize his Real Self. The Lord Supreme sustains and is gracious. He alone holds the lamp that makes the whole universe illuminate and shine bright. He prays that the brilliance of rays be visible beyond this material vision of allurement of this illusionary world as only the blessed one surrendered to the Almighty can fathom the real nature of the lamp holder. The seeker wishes to achieve a glimpse of the nature of that Illuminating Grace. He seeks self-realization and the experience of the bliss as he feels that the Being that dwells therein is the being That I Am.
Where is the Supreme Self or Heaven unless in me? It is not at all the utter extinction of Self but the utter extinction of all that is base in us, all that is vicious and materialistic and worldly in us and all that is corrupt and corruptible in us. The extinction is not the black dead piece of grave but a living piece of joyful, Blissful, soul which is conscious of itself and consists of having found an abode in the heart of the Eternal Lamp Holder. Such a one treats the lowest creation as equal to himself; even the crawling thing of the earth is precious to him. The state of ego is gone and now remains only Brahman. It originates from the root Brih, to expand. The devotee expands himself to all creatures, to all essence of everything of earth, gods and creatures, power and energy as now he is That I Am, Brahman
Previous: Isha Upanishad - Shloka 14 
Next: Isha Upanishad - Shloka 16  
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More by :  Dr. R. K. Lahri

Top | Hinduism

Views: 4339      Comments: 5

Comment Question about the translation?
As I read the sanskrit, the literal translation would seem to be - "hiranya"- golden", "mayena" - of maya", "patrena" - vessel.
This would then read, "Vessel of golden Maya".
Why do all the translations of this phrase omit the word maya, and just say "golden vessel"?

Ronald Sumio Wilson
01-Sep-2023 10:08 AM

Comment This Mantra is also the very last Mantra in Yajur Ved. I was looking for assistance to elaborate on it as I found this one a bit difficult to actually translate. Not the actual translation but setting up the English version of the words to make sense. I found more than what I had bargained for. Many thanks for your input. God bless

Bhasmank Mehta
09-Jun-2021 03:14 AM


26-Nov-2014 01:48 AM

Comment I shall be extremely grateful if anyone could please send me link to the audio rendition of this shloka (Om hiranmayena patrena satya-syapi-hitam ..... Shloka 15)

Nitin Chowdhary
11-Sep-2011 13:28 PM

Comment Dr. Lahri,


Thank you for posting this and some of the other great articles. I stumbled on this site in a rather unusual way and really appreciate the effort you must have gone through to put all of this up.

Regards and best wishes,

07-Jun-2011 00:54 AM

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