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The Gift of the Kena Upanishad

The Kena Upanishad is called a mukhya, which means a Principle Upanishad. It centralizes around the first word in its title, ‘Kena,’ which, in Sanskrit, means ‘By Whom?’ The focus of the Upanishad asks the reader to ponder what is the force that is up underneath everything? ‘By Whom’ is everything moving, growing and decaying? By what force is the embodied life and all those that I meet sustained? And what power exists beyond all of manifestation? Additionally, the Kena Upanishad sets into motion several other sub-questions that the student must work to grasp and ultimately integrate into her practice. For example, the Kena Upanishad guides the student in how to question well, in the context of spiritual practice. Learning the art of questioning well, means you have the capacity to identify the real questions that are important to ask and then having the courage to approach them. The student also needs the skill to resolve these questions. But that comes in time. This process that I describe lies at the heart of the Kena Upanishad.

In the Kena Upanishad, Chapter 2, Verse 3, the Rishi engages the student with a riddle. This kind of play, on the part of the Rishi, undoubtedly places the verse in front of the student so that she can make the inner discovery. Without the ability to properly question, she will remain lost in terms of the yogic understanding.

                            Kena Upanishad Ch 2 Verse 3

Yasyāmatam Tasya Matam  Matam Yasya Na Veda Sah
           Avijñātam Vijānatām   Vijñātam Avijānatām


audio of Manorama Chanting Kena Upanishad Chapter 2 Verse 3


Manorama’s Translation:
She who does not understand it, understands it. She who understands it, does not understand it. Its not known by those who know it. It is known by those who do not know it.

Manorama’s Commentary:

What do you make of this confusing way of speaking? First, a riddle has been put in front of the student. You, as the reader, are the student. Secondly, who is the ‘it’ that is being mentioned in the verse? Understanding who ‘it’ is requires the ability to sit with the question and not push for a meaning mentally. In this verse, the Rishishows that the meaning of ‘it’ will never be grasped if the student uses the channel of the mind. She must look for other ways to arrive at meaning. She must pursue beyond the boundaries of the thinking mind and thought to understand. When she gets beyond ‘knowing,’ she will simultaneously get beyond thinking. If a a yogini-in-training hangs out there for a little while, in the space and openness of the no mind, the experience of pure being will rise. In the experience of pure being she will enter into the mystery and thus, integrate the Kena Upanishad verse. She will intuitively understand the purpose of the verse in her practice and life.

©2018 Luminous Shabda, Manorama & Sanskrit Studies


This Oct 8th, 2022 Manorama will share with you the beauty and mystery of the Sanskrit language.

In the Sanskrit Studies Method, Sanskrit Level 1 Year-Long Teleclass Training, you will study the Sanskrit language, immerse yourself in the path of yogic unity, learn about the intricacies and beauty of Sanskrit through the study of mantras, grammar and sutras.

Be inspired, Learn tools to support your growth. Develop real confidence.

Join Us!

Sanskrit Studies Method, Sanskrit Level 1 Year-Long Teleclass
Module 1
Sat/Sun, Oct 8th & 9th, 2022
9 am – 12 noon

For more info click here