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Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.18 : Seeking Liberation, I take refuge in the Lord, the revealer of Self—Knowledge, who in the beginning created Brahma and delivered the Vedas to Him.

Who is the lord in this in this verse? Is the word "lord" referring to Shri Vishnu or to Brahman?

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    It is referring to the Parabrahma ishwar. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are his incarnations. Jun 6, 2021 at 4:20
  • @Vivikta can this verse be taken literally or it should be understood symbolically Jun 6, 2021 at 6:19
  • The sanskrit word in the text is 'devam', or Diety - Swami Gambhirananda translation. Jun 6, 2021 at 12:28

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First of all, let's see the original Sanskrit Verse:

यो ब्रह्माणं विदधाति पूर्व यो वै वेदांश्च पहिणोति तस्मै ।
तं ह देवं आत्मबुद्धिप्रकाशं मुमुक्षुर्वै शरणमहं प्रपद्ये ॥१८॥

yo brahmāṇaṁ vidadhāti pūrva yo vai vedāṁśca pahiṇoti tasmai ।
taṁ ha devaṁ ātmabuddhiprakāśaṁ mumukṣurvai śaraṇamahaṁ prapadye ॥18॥

Translation by Prof. Śri Sarvepalli Rādhākr̥ṣṇana

  1. To Him who, of old, creates Brahmā and who, verily, delivers to him the Vedas, to that God who is lighted .toy Bis own intelligence, do I, eager for liberation, resort for refuge.

Swami Sivanada gives the following translation:

  1. I, desirous of liberation, resort to the God for refuge, whose light turns the intellect towards the Atman, who at the commencement of creation created Brahmā and gave the Vedas to Him.

Swami Tyagisananda gives the following translation:

VI-18-19: He who at the beginning of creation projected Brahmā (Universal Consciousness), who delivered the Vedas unto him, who constitutes the supreme bridge of immortality, who is the partless, free from actions, tranquil, faultless, taintless and resembles the fire that has consumed its fuel - seeking liberation I go for refuge to that Effulgent One, whose light turns the understanding towards the Atman.

Max Müller gives the following translation:

  1. Seeking for freedom I go for refuge to that God who is the light of his own thoughts, he who first creates Brahmā (m.) 1 and delivers the Vedas to him;

So, it is quite evident that each of these translators have interpreted the word "devaṁ ( देवं )" as a general Lord (God) and not a particular deity (viz Viṣhṇu or Śhiva).


Now, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, as per several "scholarly opinions" has Shaivism and Shiva as their Central themes, which is evident from the frequent eulogizing of Śhiva & Rudra at several places in the text.

  • So, in that way the mention of devaṁ (देवं ) = "the God" / "Self-efflugent one", can be interpreted as a mention to Lord Śhiva, which kind of concurs with one of the "central-themes" of the text being Śhaiva focused.

  • However, in all major Paurāṇika literature, it's a common recurrent theme that Lord Brahmā is "manifested" from the Lotus that sprouts from the Navel of Nārāyaṇa (Viṣhṇu). Even the Śhiva Purāṇa concurs with this theology. Thus, devaṁ may also be interpreted as a reference to Lord Viṣhṇu too.

  • However, in all it's broadness, the Vedic Literature being non-sectarian eulogize the same Brahman through various deities: Ekam sat viprā bahudhā vadanti [Rig Veda Samhita, 1.164.46]. Thus, it seems befitting that the word "lord" / devaṁ is a direct reference to the Supreme Brahman itself.

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In this Upanishad https://advaitasharada.sringeri.net/display/moola/svt the word/name 'Rudra' occurs six times. It shows Rudra as the One Only Brahman who is the Creator, etc. of the universe. There are several passages here from the extremely famous 'Rudradhyaya' of the Krishna Yajur Veda Samhita. It has been classified as one of the many 'Shaiva Upanishads'.

The Shiva Puranam condenses this entire Upanishad in one chapter: शिवपुराणम्/संहिता ७ (वायवीयसंहिता)/पूर्व भागः/अध्यायः ०६ https://sa.wikisource.org/s/hyj

One familiar with Sanskrit can make a comparison with the Shve.Up.(link given above) and the Shiva Purana chapter (link provided just above) and find the numerous correspondences. Thus, the Brahman of this Upanishad is undoubtedly Rudra.

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The Verse in the Question.:

“yo brahmaaNa.n vidadhaati puurva.n | yo vai vedaa.nshcha prahiNoti tasmai .ta.n ha devaM aatmabuddhiprakaashaM | mumuxurvai sharaNamahaM prapadye |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 6:18).

Seeking Liberation, I take refuge in the Lord, the revealer of Self-Knowledge, who in the beginning created Brahma and delivered the Vedas to Him”.

Svetaswatara Upanishad clearly says Rudra is the only Brahman without any second entity.:

“eko hi rudro na dvitiiyaaya tasthurya imaa.nllokaaniishata iishaniibhiH | pratyaN^ janaastishhThati saJNchukochaantakaale sa.nsR^ijya vishvaa bhuvanaani gopaaH |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 3:02).

“Rudra is truly one; for the knowers of Brahman do not admit the existence of a second, He alone rules all the worlds by His powers. He dwells as the inner Self of every living being. After having created all the worlds, He, their Protector, takes them back into Himself at the end of time”.

It also says clearly that Rudra gave birth to Brahma..:

“yo devaanaaM prabhavashchodbhavashcha vishvaadhipo rudro maharshhiH | hiraNyagarbha.n janayaamaasa puurva.n sa no buddhyaa shubhayaa sa.nyunaktu |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 3:04).

“He, the omniscient seer Rudra, the creator of the gods and the bestower of their powers, the support of the universe, He who, in the beginning, gave birth to Hiranyagarbha—may He endow us with clear intellect!”

Both Dakshina Murti and Sharabha Upanishad clearly states it's Rudra who delivered the Vedas to Brahma.:

“sargaadikaale bhagavaanviri~nchirupaasyaina.n sargasaamarthyamaapya | ” (Dakshinamurty Upanishad 1:20).

At the beginning of creation, Brahmâ the Lord, having worshipped S’iva, attained power to create and was delighted at heart”.

Note.: Brahma created the Universe from the knowledge of the Vedas.

“prabhu.n vareNyaM pitaraM mahesha.n yo brahmaaNa.n vidadhaati tasmai | vedaa.nshcha sarvaanprahiNoti chaagrya.n ta.n vai prabhuM pitara.n devataanaam.h | mamaapi vishhNorjanaka.n devamiiDyaM yo.antakaale sarvalokaansa.njahaara | sa ekaH shreshhThashcha sarvashaastaa sa eva varishhThashcha |” (Sarabha Upanishad 1:2-3).

“I am saluting that primeval God who is the Lord, who is the best, who is the father of the world, who is the greatest among gods, who has created Brahma, who gave all Vedas to Brahma in the beginning, who is the father of Vishnu and other devas, who merits praise, and who at the time of deluge destroys the world. He is the only one who is greater than every body, who is the best and who rules over others”.

Again, it's Svetaswatara Upanishad only which clearly says us take refuge in Rudra especially his Dakshina (Southern) face (Dakshina Murthy) for liberation.:

“ajaata ityeva.n kashchidbhiiruH prapadyate | rudra yatte daxiNaM mukha.n tena maaM paahi nityam.h |”(Svetaswatara Upanishad 4:21).

It is because Thou, O Lord, art birthless, that some rare souls, frightened by birth and death, take refuge in Thee. O Rudra, may Thy southward face (dakshinam mukha) protect me forever!

Conclusion.: So, the Lord mentioned in Svetaswatara Upanishad 6.18 is none other than Bhagawan Rudra who is the only Brahman present in different different forms doing different different duties.

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

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