Hinduism Today Magazine Issues and Articles
Your Self, the Inner Controller
Category : October/November/December 2005

FROM THE VEDAS

Your Self, the Inner Controller

The mysterious presence of the Divine Atma within all



The upanishads contain famous philosophical debates held in the courts of ancient kings. Rishi Yajnavalkya shines victorious with his revelations about the nature of reality. Here are excerpts from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, III.7.1-23, which focus on the quintessential Hindu awareness of atma-antaryamin--the immortal divine inner controller within all beings.


Uddalaka, the son of Aruna, questioned Yajnavalkya.

"Yajnavalkya, " said he, "in Madra we lived in the house of Patanchala, of the line of Kapi, studying the scriptures. His wife was possessed by a gandharva who said,'He who knows that sutra and that Inner Controller indeed knows Brahman; he knows the worlds, he knows the Gods, he knows the Vedas, he knows the beings, he knows the self, he knows everything.' If you, Yajnavalkya, do not know that sutra and that Inner Controller, and still take away the cows (the debate winner's prize) that belong only to the knowers of Brahman, your head will fall off."

Yajnavalkya said: "O Gautama, I know that sutra and that Inner Controller. Vayu is that sutra. By Vayu, as by a thread, O Gautama, are this world, the other world, and all beings held together. Therefore, O Gautama, they say of a person who dies that his limbs have been loosened; for they are held together by Vayu as by a thread.

"He who inhabits the earth, yet is within the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, and who controls the earth from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits water, yet is within water, whom water does not know, whose body water is, and who controls water from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits fire, yet is within fire, whom fire does not know, whose body fire is, and who controls fire from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the air, yet is within the air, whom the air does not know, whose body the air is, and who controls the air from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.

"He who inhabits the sun, yet is within the sun, whom the sun does not know, whose body the sun is, and who controls the sun from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the moon and stars, yet is within the moon and stars, whom the moon and stars do not know, whose body the moon and stars are, and who controls the moon and stars from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the akasha, yet is within the akasha, whom the akasha does not know, whose body the akasha is, and who controls the akasha from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller. He who inhabits all beings, yet is within all beings, whom no beings know, whose body all beings are, and who controls all beings from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the nose (prana), yet is within the nose, whom the nose does not know, whose body the nose is, and who controls the nose from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits [the organ of] speech, yet is within speech, whom speech does not know, whose body speech is, and who controls speech from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the eye, yet is within the eye, whom the eye does not know, whose body the eye is, and who controls the eye from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the ear, yet is within the ear, whom the ear does not know, whose body the ear is, and who controls the ear from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the mind, yet is within the mind, whom the mind does not know, whose body the mind is, and who controls the mind from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the intellect (vijnana), yet is within the intellect, whom the intellect does not know, whose body the intellect is, and who controls the intellect from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. He who inhabits the organ of generation, yet is within the organ, whom the organ does not know, whose body the organ is, and who controls the organ from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.

"He is never seen, but is the Seer; He is never heard, but is the Hearer; He is never thought of, but is the Thinker; He is never known, but is the Knower. There is no other seer than He, there is no other hearer than He, there is no other thinker than He, there is no other knower than He. He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal. Everything else but Him is perishable."

Thereupon Uddalaka, the son of Aruna, held his peace.


Swami Nikhilananda (1895 -1973) was founder and spiritual leader of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York from 1933 to his Mahasamadhi in 1973. His four-volume Upanishad translation was completed in 1959.


The Vedas are the divinely revealed and most revered scriptures, sruti, of Hinduism, likened to the Torah (1,200 bce), Bible New Testament (100 ce), Koran (630 ce) or Zend Avesta (600 bce). Four in number, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, the Vedas include over 100,000 verses. Oldest portions may date back as far as 6,000 bce.