oṃ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṃ pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate.
The invocation that begins the Iśāvāsya Upaniṣad seems a baffling equation: oṃ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṃpūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate.
Pūrṇam is usually translated as full, whole, or complete.
That is full, this is full, from full comes full.
The next line says: pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate
If you take this out of that, what’s left is but full.
Full is an opposite of empty. The glass is full. My stomach is full. What a full life you have! Sorry, the flight is full. Such other equivalents as ‘whole’ and ‘complete’ also make the verse enigmatic. Full, whole and complete are quantitative words.
Therefore I think about the usages of the Sanskrit word ‘pūrṇa.’ In pūrṇimā, a word referring to the full moon, it means the moon has reached its maximum potential of visibility. ‘Pūrṇagarbha’ means pregnant, ready to bring forth. Pūrṇnakāma is one whose wishes are fulfilled, satisfied. That also makes the statement less baffling. And what can I find in English that helps me understand this description as a state of quality rather than that of quantity? Syllables ‘p’ and ‘r’ in pūrṇa come to the rescue and the word arrives at once … ‘perfect’! Hence, in my translation:
That’s perfect Creator
This’ perfect Creation From perfection can only come perfection
‘Adas’ is the pronoun for ‘he’ or ‘that’ at a distance.
Idam is ‘this,’ or ‘that’ neuter gender, distance not specified.
I interpret that and this as ‘creator’ and ‘creation.’