This Upaniṣad takes the form of a conversation between Guha (another name for Kārttikeya, the son of Śiva and Pārvatī), and Prajāpati. The term prajāpati refers to various sons of Lord Brahmā, as well as to numerous other divine beings and sages. It is also the name of a vedic deity that served the same creative role as the four-headed deity we now know as Brahmā.

It is unclear from the text which prajāpati is being taught by Guha.


Select Languages to View

ॐ वाङ्मे मनसि प्रतिष्ठिता मनो मे वाचि प्रतिष्ठितमाविरावीर्म एधि ।

oṃ vāṅme manasi pratiṣṭhitā mano me vāci pratiṣṭhitamāvirāvīrma edhi ।

May my speech be firmly established in my mental faculties, and may my mental faculties be firmly established in my speech. May my knowledge of the self-manifested (i.e. ātman) grow.

वेदस्य म आणीस्थः श्रुतं मे मा प्रहासीरनेनाधीतेनारात्रान्सन्दधाम्यृतं वदिष्यामि सत्यं वदिष्यामि ।

vedasya ma āṇīsthaḥ śrutaṃ me mā prahāsīranenādhītenārātrānsandadhāmyṛtaṃ vadiṣyāmi satyaṃ vadiṣyāmi ।

May the wisdom of the vedas be my foundation. Let the wisdom I hear not be ephemeral, but let me study day and night to fully absorb it. I shall always speak what is right and what is true.

तन्मामवतु तद्वक्तारमवतु अवतु मामवतु वक्तारमवतु वक्तारम् ॥

tanmāmavatu tadvaktāramavatu avatu māmavatu vaktāramavatu vaktāram ॥

Let that protect me. Let that protect the one who speaks (the teacher). Let that protect me. Let that protect the one who speaks. Let that protect the one who speaks.

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ॥

Peace, peace, peace.


अथ प्रजापतिर्गुहं पप्रच्छ भो ब्रह्मन्नक्षमालाभेदविधिं ब्रूहीति ।

atha prajāpatirguhaṃ papraccha bho brahmannakṣamālābhedavidhiṃ brūhīti ।

Prajāpati asked Guha, “Honored sir, my supreme lord, divulge to me the ways of the akṣamālā.”

सा किं लक्षणा कति भेदा अस्याः कति सूत्राणि कथं घटनाप्रकारः के वर्णाः का प्रतिष्ठा कैषाधिदेवता किं फलं चेति ॥ १ ॥

sā kiṃ lakṣaṇā kati bhedā asyāḥ kati sūtrāṇi kathaṃ ghaṭanāprakāraḥ ke varṇāḥ kā pratiṣṭhā kaiṣādhidevatā kiṃ phalaṃ ceti ॥ 1 ॥

“Tell me how many kinds of mālāḥ are there? How many threads should be used? How should it be made? How should it look? How should it be consecrated? Who is its presiding deity? What benefit does it provide?

तं गुहः प्रत्युवाच प्रवालमौक्तिकस्फटिकशङ्खरजताष्टापदचन्दनपुत्रजीविकाब्जे रुद्राक्षा इति ।

taṃ guhaḥ pratyuvāca pravālamauktikasphaṭikaśaṅkharajatāṣṭāpadacandanaputrajīvikābje rudrākṣā iti ।

Guha replied, “Ten kinds of beads may be used for the mālā: coral, pearl, crystal, conch, silver, gold, sandalwood, putraṃjīvaka seeds, lotus seeds, and rudrākṣa seeds.”

आदिक्षान्तमूर्तिः सावधानभावा ।

ādikṣāntamūrtiḥ sāvadhānabhāvā ।

“The sounds of the Saṃskṛta letters, from a ( ) to kṣa ( क्ष ), will be made manifest within the beads. They should be thought of as the presiding deities.”

सौवर्णं राजतं ताम्रं चेति सूत्रत्रयम् ।

sauvarṇaṃ rājataṃ tāmraṃ ceti sūtratrayam ।

“Gold, silver, and copper threads are used.”

तद्विवरे सौवर्णं तद्दक्षपार्श्वे राजतं तद्वामे ताम्रं तन्मुखे मुखं तत्पुच्छे पुच्छं तदन्तरावर्तनक्रमेण योजयेत् ॥ २ ॥

tadvivare sauvarṇaṃ taddakṣapārśve rājataṃ tadvāme tāmraṃ tanmukhe mukhaṃ tatpucche pucchaṃ tadantarāvartanakrameṇa yojayet ॥ 2 ॥

“The gold thread passes through the center of the beads, the silver on the right side, and the copper on the left. The beads should be strung face-to-face and tail-to-tail, then joined to form a circle.”

यदस्यान्तरं सूत्रं तद्ब्रह्म ।

yadasyāntaraṃ sūtraṃ tadbrahma ।

“The golden thread running through the beads is Brahman.”

यद्दक्षपार्श्वे तच्छैवम् ।

yaddakṣapārśve tacchaivam ।

“The right side (silver caps) is for Śiva.”

यद्वामे तद्वैष्णवम् ।

yadvāme tadvaiṣṇavam ।

“The left side (copper caps) is for Viṣṇu.”

यन्मुखं सा सरस्वती ।

yanmukhaṃ sā sarasvatī ।

“The faces of the beads are Sarasvatī.”

यत्पुच्छं सा गायत्री ।

yatpucchaṃ sā gāyatrī ।

“The tails of the beads are Gāyatrī.”

यत्सुषिरं सा विद्या ।

yatsuṣiraṃ sā vidyā ।

“The hole in the bead is knowledge.”

या ग्रन्थिः सा प्रकृतिः ।

yā granthiḥ sā prakṛtiḥ ।

“The knots are nature.”

ये स्वरास्ते धवलाः ।

ye svarāste dhavalāḥ ।

“The beads representing vowels should be white.”

ये स्पर्शास्ते पीताः ।

ye sparśāste pītāḥ ।

“The beads representing the consonants should be yellow.”

ये परास्ते रक्ताः ॥ ३ ॥

ye parāste raktāḥ ॥ 3 ॥

“The remaining beads should be red.”

अथ तां पञ्चभिर्गव्यैरमृतैः

atha tāṃ pañcabhirgavyairamṛtaiḥ

“Then the mālā shall be bathed in the milk of five types of cows.”1

पञ्चभिर्गव्यैस्तनुभिः शोधयित्वा

pañcabhirgavyaistanubhiḥ śodhayitvā

“Prepare and purify a mixture of the five substances given by the cow (pañcagavya: milk, curd, ghee, urine, dung).”2

पञ्चभिर्गव्यैर्गन्धोदकेन संस्नाप्य

pañcabhirgavyairgandhodakena saṃsnāpya

“Now bathe the mālā in the pañcagavya, mixed with water perfumed with sandalwood.”

तस्मात्सोङ्कारेण पत्रकूर्चेन स्नपयित्वाष्टभिर्गन्धैरालिप्य सुमनःस्थले

tasmātsoṅkāreṇa patrakūrcena snapayitvāṣṭabhirgandhairālipya sumanaḥsthale

“While chanting oṅkāra (the mantra oṃ , representing the cosmic vibration that begat creation), use darbha grass (also known as kuśa grass) to sprinkle water, then smear a paste of eight sacred fragrances (aṣṭagandha), then place the mālā on a bed of flowers.”

निवेश्याक्षतपुष्पैराराध्य प्रत्यक्षमादिक्षान्तैर्वर्णैर्भावयेत् ॥ ४ ॥

niveśyākṣatapuṣpairārādhya pratyakṣamādikṣāntairvarṇairbhāvayet ॥ 4 ॥

“While worshipping the mālā with rice and flowers, systematically establish each letter, from a ( ) to kṣa ( क्ष ), into the beads.”


ॐ अङ्कार मृत्युञ्जय सर्वव्यापक प्रथमेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ aṅkāra mṛtyuñjaya sarvavyāpaka prathame’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter a ( ), all-pervasive conqueror of death, be established within the first bead.

ॐ आङ्काराकर्षणात्मकसर्वगत द्वितीयेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ āṅkārākarṣaṇātmakasarvagata dvitīye’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ā ( ), the omnipresent essence of attraction, be established within the second bead.

ॐ इङ्कारपुष्टिदाक्षोभकर तृतीयेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ iṅkārapuṣṭidākṣobhakara tṛtīye’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter i ( ), creator of prosperity and equanimity, be established within the third bead.

ॐ ईङ्कार वाक्प्रसादकर निर्मल चतुर्थेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ īṅkāra vākprasādakara nirmala caturthe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ī ( ), the unsullied giver of perspicuous speech, be established within the fourth bead.

ॐ उङ्कार सर्वबलप्रद सारतर पञ्चमेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ uṅkāra sarvabalaprada sāratara pañcame’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter u ( ), the most excellent giver of all strength, be established within the fifth bead.

ॐ ऊङ्कारोच्चाटन दुःसह षष्ठेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ūṅkāroccāṭana duḥsaha ṣaṣṭhe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ū ( ), eradicator of difficulties, be established within the sixth bead.

ॐ ऋङ्कार सङ्क्षोभकर चञ्चल सप्तमेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ṛṅkāra saṅkṣobhakara cañcala saptame’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ( ), creator of unsteadiness and disorder, be established within the seventh bead.

ॐ ॠङ्कार संमोहनकरोजवलाष्टमेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ṝṅkāra saṃmohanakarojavalāṣṭame’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ( ), the radiant causer of bewilderment, be established within the eighth bead.

ॐ ऌङ्कारविद्वेषणकर मोहक नवमेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ḷṅkāravidveṣaṇakara mohaka navame’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ( ), causer of hatred and confusion, be established within the ninth bead.

ॐ ॡङ्कार मोहकर दशमेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ḹṅkāra mohakara daśame’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ( ), causer of disorientation, be established within the tenth bead.

ॐ एङ्कार सर्ववश्यकर शुद्धसत्त्वैकादशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ eṅkāra sarvavaśyakara śuddhasattvaikādaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter e ( ), the guileless subduer of all things, be established within the eleventh bead.

ॐ ऐङ्कार शुद्धसात्त्विक पुरुषवश्यकर द्वादशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ aiṅkāra śuddhasāttvika puruṣavaśyakara dvādaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ai ( ), pure and good, charmer of people, be established within the twelfth bead.

ॐ ओङ्काराखिलवाङ्मय नित्यशुद्ध त्रयोदशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ oṅkārākhilavāṅmaya nityaśuddha trayodaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter o ( ), the basis of language, eternally pure, be established within the thirteenth bead.

ॐ औङ्कार सर्ववाङ्मय वश्यकर चतुर्दशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ auṅkāra sarvavāṅmaya vaśyakara caturdaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter au ( ), the basis of all speech, giver of the power of subjugation, be established within the fourteenth bead.

ॐ अङ्कार गजादिवश्यकर मोहन पञ्चदशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ aṅkāra gajādivaśyakara mohana pañcadaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter aṃ (anusvāra, अं), the enchanting subduer of great beasts like the elephant, be established within the fifteenth bead.

ॐ अःकार मृत्युनाशनकर रौद्र षोडशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ aḥkāra mṛtyunāśanakara raudra ṣoḍaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter aḥ (visarga, अः), destroyer of death itself, fierce like Rudra, be established within the sixteenth bead.

ॐ कङ्कार सर्वविषहर कल्याणद सप्तदशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ kaṅkāra sarvaviṣahara kalyāṇada saptadaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ka ( ), destroyer of all toxins and source of auspiciousness, be established within the seventeenth bead.

ॐ खङ्कार सर्वक्षोभकर व्यापकाष्टादशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ khaṅkāra sarvakṣobhakara vyāpakāṣṭādaśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter kha ( ), the omnipresent cause of all emotional turmoil, be established within the eighteenth bead.

ॐ गङ्कार सर्वविघ्नशमन महत्तरैकोनविंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ gaṅkāra sarvavighnaśamana mahattaraikonaviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ga ( ), obliterator of all obstacles, the most mighty and strong, be established within the nineteenth bead.

ॐ घङ्कार सौभाग्यप्रद स्तम्भनकर विंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ghaṅkāra saubhāgyaprada stambhanakara viṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter gha ( ), source of prosperity and cause of paralysis3, be established within the twentieth bead.

ॐ ङकार सर्वविषनाशकरोग्रैकविंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ṅakāra sarvaviṣanāśakarograikaviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ṅa ( ), the ferocious destroyer of all poisons, be established within the twenty-first bead.

ॐ चङ्काराभिचारघ्न क्रूर द्वाविंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ caṅkārābhicāraghna krūra dvāviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ca ( ), the merciless killer of malevolent spiritual forces, be established within the twenty-second bead.

ॐ छङ्कार भूतनाशकर भीषण त्रयोविंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ chaṅkāra bhūtanāśakara bhīṣaṇa trayoviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter cha ( ), the terrifying destroyer of all living things4, be established within the twenty-third bead.

ॐ जङ्कार कृत्यादिनाशकर दुर्धर्ष चतुर्विंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ jaṅkāra kṛtyādināśakara durdharṣa caturviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ja ( ), the unconquerable destroyer of responsibilities (duties, work to be done), be established within the twenty-fourth bead.

ॐ झङ्कार भूतनाशकर पञ्चविंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ jhaṅkāra bhūtanāśakara pañcaviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter jha ( ), the destroyer of all living things, be established within the twenty-fifth bead.

ॐ ञकार मृत्युप्रमथन षड्विंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ñakāra mṛtyupramathana ṣaḍviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ña ( ), tormenting death itself, be established within the twenty-sixth bead.

ॐ टङ्कार सर्वव्याधिहर सुभग सप्तविंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ṭaṅkāra sarvavyādhihara subhaga saptaviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ṭa ( ), the charming destroyer of all infirmities, be established within the twenty-seventh bead.

ॐ ठङ्कार चन्द्ररूपाष्टाविंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ṭhaṅkāra candrarūpāṣṭāviṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ṭha ( ), the essence of the moon, be established within the twenty-eighth bead.

ॐ डङ्कार गरुडात्मक विषघ्न शोभनैकोनत्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ḍaṅkāra garuḍātmaka viṣaghna śobhanaikonatriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ḍa ( ), the resplendent soul of Garuḍa5, the antidote to all poison, be established within the twenty-ninth bead.

ॐ ढङ्कार सर्वसम्पत्प्रद सुभग त्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ḍhaṅkāra sarvasampatprada subhaga triṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ḍha ( ), the charming giver of all prosperity, be established within the thirtieth bead.

ॐ णङ्कार सर्वसिद्धिप्रद मोहकरैकत्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ṇaṅkāra sarvasiddhiprada mohakaraikatriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ṇa ( ), bestower of all the [siddhis](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhi), the cause of infatuation, be established within the thirty-first bead.

ॐ तङ्कार धनधान्यादिसम्पत्प्रद प्रसन्न द्वात्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ taṅkāra dhanadhānyādisampatprada prasanna dvātriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ta ( ), the gracious bestower of wealth (money and grain), be established within the thirty-second bead.

ॐ थङ्कार धर्मप्राप्तिकर निर्मल त्रयस्त्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ thaṅkāra dharmaprāptikara nirmala trayastriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter tha ( ), the faultless giver of religion6, be established within the thirty-third bead.

ॐ दङ्कार पुष्टिवृद्धिकर प्रियदर्शन चतुस्त्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ daṅkāra puṣṭivṛddhikara priyadarśana catustriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter da ( ), creator of opulent wealth and beautiful to see, be established within the thirty-fourth bead.

ॐ धङ्कार विषज्वरनिघ्न विपुल पञ्चत्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ dhaṅkāra viṣajvaranighna vipula pañcatriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter dha ( ), the expansive subduer of fevers caused by poison, be established within the thirty-fifth bead.

ॐ नङ्कार भुक्तिमुक्तिप्रद शान्त षट्त्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ naṅkāra bhuktimuktiprada śānta ṣaṭtriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter na ( ), the peaceful granter of both wordly enjoyment as well as freedom from material desires, be established within the thirty-sixth bead.

ॐ पङ्कार विषविघ्ननाशन भव्य सप्तत्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ paṅkāra viṣavighnanāśana bhavya saptatriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter pa ( ), destroyer of toxins and obstructions, be established within the thirty-seventh bead.

ॐ फङ्काराणिमादिसिद्धिप्रद ज्योतीरूपाष्टत्रिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ phaṅkārāṇimādisiddhiprada jyotīrūpāṣṭatriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter pha ( ), giver of the eight siddhis (spiritual powers) such as [aṇimā](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhi#Eight_primary_siddhis) (ability to change the size of one’s body), whose form is pure light, be established within the thirty-eighth bead.

ॐ बङ्कार सर्वदोषहर शोभनैकोनचत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ baṅkāra sarvadoṣahara śobhanaikonacatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ba ( ), the luminous destroyer of all defects7, be established within the thirty-ninth bead.

ॐ भङ्कार भूतप्रशान्तिकर भयानक चत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ bhaṅkāra bhūtapraśāntikara bhayānaka catvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter bha ( ), the fearsome bringer of tranquility to all living beings, be established within the fortieth bead.

ॐ मङ्कार विद्वेषिमोहनकरैकचत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ maṅkāra vidveṣimohanakaraikacatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ma ( ), enchanter of the hateful, be established within the forty-first bead.

ॐ यङ्कार सर्वव्यापक पावन द्विचत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ yaṅkāra sarvavyāpaka pāvana dvicatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ya ( ), the omnipresent purifier8, be established within the forty-second bead.

ॐ रङ्कार दाहकर विकृत त्रिचत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ raṅkāra dāhakara vikṛta tricatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ra ( ), the malformed cause of conflagration, be established within the forty-third bead.

ॐ लङ्कार विश्वम्भर भासुर चतुश्चत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ laṅkāra viśvambhara bhāsura catuścatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter la ( ), the effulgent sustainer of the universe, be established within the forty-fourth bead.

ॐ वङ्कार सर्वाप्यायनकर निर्मल पञ्चचत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ vaṅkāra sarvāpyāyanakara nirmala pañcacatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter va ( ), unspoiled source of all satisfaction, be established within the forty-fifth bead.

ॐ शङ्कार सर्वफलप्रद पवित्र षट्चत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ śaṅkāra sarvaphalaprada pavitra ṣaṭcatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter śa ( ), the purifying giver of all fruits9, be established within the forty-sixth bead.

ॐ षङ्कार धर्मार्थकामद धवल सप्तचत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ṣaṅkāra dharmārthakāmada dhavala saptacatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ṣa ( ), the pure white giver of righteousness, material wealth, and sensual pleasure, be established within the forty-seventh bead.

ॐ सङ्कार सर्वकारण सार्ववर्णिकाष्टचत्वारिंशेऽक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ saṅkāra sarvakāraṇa sārvavarṇikāṣṭacatvāriṃśe’kṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter sa ( ), the cause of all things relating to every social class10, be established within the forty-eighth bead.

ॐ हङ्कार सर्ववाङ्मय निर्मलैकोनपञ्चाशदक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ haṅkāra sarvavāṅmaya nirmalaikonapañcāśadakṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ha ( ), the unblemished essence of all speech, be established within the forty-ninth bead.

ॐ ळङ्कार सर्वशक्तिप्रद प्रधान पञ्चाशदक्षे प्रतितिष्ठ ।

oṃ ḻaṅkāra sarvaśaktiprada pradhāna pañcāśadakṣe pratitiṣṭha ।

The letter ḻa ( ), the preeminent source of all power, be established within the fiftieth bead.

ॐ क्षङ्कार परापरतत्त्वज्ञापक परंज्योतीरूप शिखामणौ प्रतितिष्ठ ॥ ५ ॥

oṃ kṣaṅkāra parāparatattvajñāpaka paraṃjyotīrūpa śikhāmaṇau pratitiṣṭha ॥ 5 ॥

The letter kṣa ( क्ष ), teacher of the primary and ancillary truths, whose form is utmost refulgence, be established within the crest gem (a.k.a. the head bead, meru bead, or guru bead).


अथोवाच ये देवाः पृथिवीपदस्तेभ्यो नमो भगवन्तोऽनुमदन्तु शोभायै पितरोऽनुमदन्तु शोभायै ज्ञानमयीमक्षमालिकाम् ॥ ६ ॥

athovāca ye devāḥ pṛthivīpadastebhyo namo bhagavanto’numadantu śobhāyai pitaro’numadantu śobhāyai jñānamayīmakṣamālikām ॥ 6 ॥

He went on to say, “I bow to the divine beings that walk the earth. May the gods rejoice in your splendor. May my ancestors rejoice in your splendor. Imbue this akṣamālā with your divine wisdom.”

अथोवाच ये देवा अन्तरिक्षसदस्तेभ्यः ॐ नमो भगवन्तोऽनुमदन्तु शोभायै पितरोऽनुमदन्तु शोभायै ज्ञानमयीमक्षमालिकाम् ॥ ७ ॥

athovāca ye devā antarikṣasadastebhyaḥ oṃ namo bhagavanto’numadantu śobhāyai pitaro’numadantu śobhāyai jñānamayīmakṣamālikām ॥ 7 ॥

He then said, “I bow to the divine beings that reside in the skies. May the gods rejoice in your splendor. May my ancestors rejoice in your splendor. Imbue this akṣamālā with your divine wisdom.”

अथोवाच ये देवा दिविषदस्तेभ्यो नमो भगवन्तोऽनुमदन्तु शोभायै पितरोऽनुमदन्तु शोभायै ज्ञानमयीमक्षमालिकाम् ॥ ८ ॥

athovāca ye devā diviṣadastebhyo namo bhagavanto’numadantu śobhāyai pitaro’numadantu śobhāyai jñānamayīmakṣamālikām ॥ 8 ॥

He then said, “I bow to the divine beings that dwell in heaven. May the gods rejoice in your splendor. May my ancestors rejoice in your splendor. Imbue this akṣamālā with your divine wisdom.”

अथोवाच ये मन्त्रा या विद्यास्तेभ्यो नमस्ताभ्यश्चोन्नमस्तच्छक्तिरस्याः प्रतिष्ठापयति ॥ ९ ॥

athovāca ye mantrā yā vidyāstebhyo namastābhyaśconnamastacchaktirasyāḥ pratiṣṭhāpayati ॥ 9 ॥

He continued, “Salutations to all mantras and all fields of knowledge and art. Salutations to all śakti (divine power). May they be established within this akṣamālā.”

अथोवाच ये ब्रह्मविष्णुरुद्रास्तेभ्यः सगुणेभ्य ॐ नमस्तद्वीर्यमस्याः प्रतिष्ठापयति ॥ १० ॥

athovāca ye brahmaviṣṇurudrāstebhyaḥ saguṇebhya oṃ namastadvīryamasyāḥ pratiṣṭhāpayati ॥ 10 ॥

He then said, “Salutations to Lord Brahma, Lord Viṣṇu, and Lord Śiva (Rudra). May their valor be established within this akṣamālā.”

अथोवाच ये सांख्यादितत्त्वभेदास्तेभ्यो नमो वर्तध्वं विरोधेऽनुवर्तध्वम् ॥ ११ ॥

athovāca ye sāṃkhyāditattvabhedāstebhyo namo vartadhvaṃ virodhe’nuvartadhvam ॥ 11 ॥

He went on, “Salutations to sāṃkhya and the other philosophical systems11 and the truths they espouse, that I may overcome all adversity.”

अथोवाच ये शैवा वैष्णवाः शाक्ताः शतसहस्रशस्तेभ्यो नमोनमो भगवन्तोऽनुमदन्त्वनुगृह्णन्तु ॥ १२ ॥

athovāca ye śaivā vaiṣṇavāḥ śāktāḥ śatasahasraśastebhyo namonamo bhagavanto’numadantvanugṛhṇantu ॥ 12 ॥

He continued, “Salutations to the hundreds of thousands of devotees of Lord Śiva, Lord Viṣṇu, and Śakti. The gods rejoice in your kindness.”

अथोवाच याश्च मृत्योः प्राणवत्यस्ताभ्यो नमोनमस्तेनैतं मृडयत मृडयत ॥ १३ ॥

athovāca yāśca mṛtyoḥ prāṇavatyastābhyo namonamastenaitaṃ mṛḍayata mṛḍayata ॥ 13 ॥

He went on, “Salutations to the various powers of death. May they be merciful. May they be merciful.”

पुनरेतस्यां सर्वात्मकत्वं भावयित्वा भावेन पूर्वमालिकामुत्पाद्यारभ्य तन्मयीं महोपहारैरुपहृत्य आदिक्षान्तैरक्षरैरक्षमालामष्टोत्तरशतं स्पृशेत् ॥ १४ ॥

punaretasyāṃ sarvātmakatvaṃ bhāvayitvā bhāvena pūrvamālikāmutpādyārabhya tanmayīṃ mahopahārairupahṛtya ādikṣāntairakṣarairakṣamālāmaṣṭottaraśataṃ spṛśet ॥ 14 ॥

Then, perceiving that the akṣamālā contains the essence of all things, hold the akṣamālā close and perform japa of each letter, from the first — a ( ) — to the last — kṣa ( क्ष ) — 108 times12 as a great offering.

अथ पुनरुत्थाप्य प्रदक्षिणीकृत्य्ॐ नमस्ते भगवति मन्त्रमातृकेऽक्षमाले सर्ववशङ्कर्य्ॐनमस्ते भगवति मन्त्रमातृकेऽक्षमालिके शेषस्तम्भिन्य्ॐनमस्ते भगवति मन्त्रमातृकेऽक्षमाले उच्चाटन्य्ॐनमस्ते भगवति मन्त्रमातृकेऽक्षमाले विश्वामृत्योमृत्युञ्जयस्वरूपिणि सकललोकोद्दीपिनि सकललोकरक्षाधिके सकललोकोज्जीविके सकललोकोत्पादिके दिवाप्रवर्तिके रात्रिप्रवर्तिके नद्यन्तरं यासि देशान्तरं यासि द्वीपान्तरं यासि लोकान्तरं यासि सर्वदा स्फुरसि सर्वहृदि वाससि

atha punarutthāpya pradakṣiṇīkṛtyoṃ namaste bhagavati mantramātṛke’kṣamāle sarvavaśaṅkaryoṃnamaste bhagavati mantramātṛke’kṣamālike śeṣastambhinyoṃnamaste bhagavati mantramātṛke’kṣamāle uccāṭanyoṃnamaste bhagavati mantramātṛke’kṣamāle viśvāmṛtyo mṛtyuñjayasvarūpiṇi sakalalokoddīpini sakalalokarakṣādhike sakalalokojjīvike sakalalokotpādike divāpravartike rātripravartike nadyantaraṃ yāsi deśāntaraṃ yāsi dvīpāntaraṃ yāsi lokāntaraṃ yāsi sarvadā sphurasi sarvahṛdi vāsasi

Then, standing up, circumambulate the akṣamālā while reciting the following:
oṃ salutations to the goddess, mother of mantras within this akṣamālā, fullfiller of desires.
oṃ salutations to the goddess, mother of mantras within this akṣamālā, astounder of all13.
oṃ salutations to the goddess, mother of mantras within this akṣamālā, the conqueror.
oṃ salutations to the goddess, mother of mantras within this akṣamālā, eternally immortal.
You are the embodiment of victory over death.
You illuminate the whole world, you protect the whole world, you give life to the whole world, you give birth to the whole world.
You are the cause of both day and night.
You dwell within the rivers, you dwell within nations, you dwell within islands, you dwell within all worlds.
Ever resplendent, you dwell in our hearts.

नमस्ते परारूपे नमस्ते पश्यन्तीरूपे नमस्ते मध्यमारूपे नमस्ते वैखरीरूपे

namaste parārūpe namaste paśyantīrūpe namaste madhyamārūpe namaste vaikharīrūpe

I bow to you in the form of the four levels of cosmic sound: parā, the spiritual sound of Parabrahman; paśyantī, the cosmic sound of unexpressed ideas; madhyama, the subtle sound of thoughts; and vaikharī, the gross auditory sound of the physical speech.

सर्वतत्त्वात्मिके सर्वविद्यात्मिके सर्वशक्त्यात्मिके सर्वदेवात्मिके

sarvatattvātmike sarvavidyātmike sarvaśaktyātmike sarvadevātmike

You are the nature of all true principles, the nature of all knowledge, the nature of all energy, and the nature of all divinity.

वसिष्ठेन मुनिनाराधिते विश्वामित्रेण मुनिनोपजीव्यमाने नमस्ते नमस्ते ॥ १५ ॥

vasiṣṭhena muninārādhite viśvāmitreṇa muninopajīvyamāne namaste namaste ॥ 15 ॥

You are worshipped by the great sage Vasiṣṭha and given life by the great sage Viśvāmitra. I bow to you again and again.

प्रातरधीयानो रात्रिकृतं पापं नाशयति ।
सायमधीयानो दिवसकृतं पापं नाशयति ।
तत्सायम्प्रातः प्रयुञ्जानः पापोऽपापोभवति ।

prātaradhīyāno rātrikṛtaṃ pāpaṃ nāśayati ।
sāyamadhīyāno divasakṛtaṃ pāpaṃ nāśayati ।
tatsāyamprātaḥ prayuñjānaḥ pāpo’pāpobhavati ।

Studying this in the morning destroys the sins of the night.
Studying this in the evening destroys the sins of the day.
Studied both morning and evening, the sinner becomes sinless.

एवमक्षमालिकया जप्तो मन्त्रः सद्यः सिद्धिकरो

evamakṣamālikayā japto mantraḥ sadyaḥ siddhikaro

Mantras recited using this akṣamālā immediately grant their full benefit.

भवतीत्याह भगवान्गुहः प्रजापतिमित्युपनिषत् ॥

bhavatītyāha bhagavānguhaḥ prajāpatimityupaniṣat ॥

Thus did Lord Guha narrate this secret knowledge to Prajāpati.


ॐ वाङ्मे मनसि प्रतिष्ठिता मनो मे वाचि प्रतिष्ठितमाविरावीर्म एधि ।

oṃ vāṅme manasi pratiṣṭhitā mano me vāci pratiṣṭhitamāvirāvīrma edhi ।

May my speech be firmly established in my mental faculties, and may my mental faculties be firmly established in my speech. May my knowledge of the self-manifested (i.e. ātman) grow.

वेदस्य म आणीस्थः श्रुतं मे मा प्रहासीरनेनाधीतेनारात्रान्सन्दधाम्यृतं वदिष्यामि सत्यं वदिष्यामि ।

vedasya ma āṇīsthaḥ śrutaṃ me mā prahāsīranenādhītenārātrānsandadhāmyṛtaṃ vadiṣyāmi satyaṃ vadiṣyāmi ।

May the wisdom of the vedas be my foundation. Let the wisdom I hear not be ephemeral, but let me study day and night to fully absorb it. I shall always speak what is right and what is true.

तन्मामवतु तद्वक्तारमवतु अवतु मामवतु वक्तारमवतु वक्तारम् ॥

tanmāmavatu tadvaktāramavatu avatu māmavatu vaktāramavatu vaktāram ॥

Let that protect me. Let that protect the one who speaks (the teacher). Let that protect me. Let that protect the one who speaks. Let that protect the one who speaks.

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ॥

Peace, peace, peace.

इत्यक्षमालिकोपनिषत्समाप्ता ॥

ityakṣamālikopaniṣatsamāptā ॥

Thus concludes the Akṣamālika Upaniṣad.

  1. In this context, the word amṛta (literally “non-death”, usually referring to the nector of immortality given to the devas) means the milk of a cow, and pañcagavyāmṛta literally means “five cows’ milk”. It is exceedingly difficult in the United States to acquire the milk of five different varieties of cow, so for this part of the consecration I use a more modern definition of pañcāmṛta used prevalently in pūjā ceremonies. This pañcāmṛta consists of milk, curd (yogurt), ghee, sugar (typically Indian jaggery is used, which is similar to American dark brown sugar), and honey.

  2. This mixture is prepared by combining the component parts in a proper ratio while reciting particular mantras for each one.

  3. This is a difficult translation. Stambhana literally means “to make stiff, rigid or immobile, to paralyze”, but it can also mean “arresting, restraining”. In an ayurvedic context it can mean “styptic, astringent” (the cause of blood clotting and tissue knitting). Another less likely definition is “to give support (as in a column)”. Some translations of this term (stambhanakara) say “paralyzer of hostile entities”, or “restrainer of iniquities”. One translation interpreted it as “stupefier”. I decided to give the literal translation as “cause of paralysis” and leave the interpretation to the reader.

  4. Bhūta can mean “ghost of a dead person”, “demon”, “goblin”, or simply “spirit (good or evil)”, but its broadest meaning is any living being, whether divine, human, animal, or vegetable.

  5. Garuḍa is the legendary king of all birds, and is the vehicle (vahana) of Lord Viṣṇu. It is said that when Garuḍa was born he shone so brightly that the gods mistook him for Agni, the god of fire, and asked for his blessings and protection. Garuḍa is often worshipped for protection. In some traditions he represents courage, in others he represents the knowledge of the Vedas (one wing representing the four Vedas, his other wing representing vedānta (the upaniṣads), and in some traditions he is viewed as a metaphor for the human soul (ātman).

  6. Dharmaprāpti — which I have translated as “religion” — means “the advent of dharma” (or possibly, “the means to attain dharma”), meaning “righteous actions” or “moral duty”.

  7. Doṣa means any harm or defect (or, generally, “badness”). In Ayurveda, doṣa refers to the three bodily humors: vāyu (or vāta), meaning air or wind (flatulence), pitta, meaning bile, and śleṣman (or kapha), meaning phlegm or mucus.

  8. Pāvana means “purifying”, but it is also a name for the deity of wind. Lord Hanumān was born by the blessing of Pāvana, hence Hanumān’s nickname “Pāvanakumāra”, meaning “son of the wind”.

  9. Phala means fruit in two ways: it means the literal fruit of a plant (especially from trees), and it also means the metaphorical “fruit” of our actions, i.e. results or consequences, whether good or bad.

  10. This is a particularly tough one to translate. Varṇa literally means “color”, but it often refers to the letters of the saṃskṛta alphabet. Some translations of this text render sārvavarṇika as “essence of all letters”. But its definition as “color” also refers to race and tribe, as well as the four social classes (caturvarṇa): brāhmaṇa, keepers of knowledge (priests and educators); kṣatriya, governors and soldiers; vaiśya, farmers and merchants; śūdra, laborers and service providers. These social classes were most likely originally defined by profession, and one could move between them, but they were later distorted and codified into the rigid, birth-based caste system that divided Hindu society for centuries (and still does to a diminished degree).

  11. There are six main schools of Hindu thought: sāṃkhya, yoga, nyāya, vaiśeṣika, mīmāṃsā, and vedānta. Sāṃkhya is a non-theistic philosophy (meaning it doesn’t focus on the supreme divinity, but rather on freeing the individual soul from the world of suffering) wherein the aspirant attains liberation through knowledge and understanding of the faults that keep the soul attached to the body. Yoga is a semi-theistic (meaning it doesn’t concern itself with any particular deities, but rather with īśvara, the supreme divinity) philosophy that is very similar to sāṃkhya, except the aspirant attains liberation by means of meditation and focus. Nyāya is a logical system that states that all suffering is caused by wrong knowledge. The aspirant attains liberation through true knowledge acquired via four means: direct perception, inference, comparison, and the teachings of experts. Vaiśeṣika is similar to nyāya, except it only accepts two means of acquiring knowledge: direct perception, and inference. Vaiśeṣika means “distinct” or “specific”, as the philosophy also describes a rudimentary atomic theory (similar to the Greek atomism of Democritus). Mīmāṃsā specializes in orthopraxy (correct actions), as opposed to orthodoxy (correct beliefs), and emphasizes dharma (righteous or moral actions) and precise vedic rituals. Vedānta is the philosophy of the upaniṣads. It grew out of mīmāṃsā and is sometimes called “uttara mīmāṃsā” (uttara means “higher” or “superior”). Mīmāṃsā believes the vedas to be supreme and infallible and the upaniṣads to be relatively unimportant. In contrast, vedānta holds that the upaniṣads are the pinnacle of vedic thought and ideation. It focuses on three main concepts and their interrelation: brahman (supreme divinity), ātman (the individuated soul), and prakṛti (the created universe).

  12. For this japa you needn’t recite the full mantra for each letter as enumerated above, but rather just the syllable itself. One syllable is recited per bead, then move to the next bead and the next syllable. Sounding every syllable (and touching every bead) is one round. Perform 108 rounds. The verse calls this a great offering (mahopahāramahā, “great”, and upahāra, “gift, offering, or oblation”). As stated in verse #2 above, the syllables themselves should be seen as the presiding deities of the akṣamālā, so treat this japa as worshiping the divinity represented by and contained within those sounds, and offer your devotion with each one.

  13. śeṣastambhinī is another tricky translation that can have very different meanings. The first word — śeṣa — can mean “remainder” or “residue”, “end” or “conclusion”, or it can refer to śeṣanāga, the mythical thousand-headed serpent king associated with Lord Viṣṇu. It is also the name of one of the seven mythical elephants that hold up the world. The second word — stambhinī — can mean “earth” (as in the element), “astounding”, “stupefying”, “to stiffen or make rigid”, or “support” (as in a column), and is also the name of a goddess. I have (for now) translated it as “astounder of all”, but it could just as easily mean “supporter of the earth”. I will continue to research this word, but have so far not found anything more conclusive.