The Golden Lid or Hiranmaya Patra

The Vedas and the Upanishads speak of a golden lid (Hiranmaya Patra in Sanskrit) which divides the lower rational mind from the higher planes of the Mind above us. This post explains the significance of that Golden Lid in the words of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.


The Rig Veda verse on the Golden Lid

The rik (5.62.1) of the seer shrutavit atri

ŗtena ŗtam apihitam dhruvam vām
sūryasya yatra vimuchanti ashvān
dasha shatā saha tasthuĥ
tadekam devānām shreşhţham vapuşhām apashyam.


“There is a truth (ŗtam) covered by a inferior truth (ŗtena)
where your place is secure,
where they unyoke the horses of sun;
the ten hundreds stood together,
where was that One, I saw the greatest of the embodied Gods”

( SAKSI website )

The Isha Upanishad verse on the Golden Lid

15. The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer,¹ for the law of the Truth, for sight.

[Isha Upanishad, Verse 15]

Sri Aurobindo discusses the symbolism of the Golden Lid in the Vedas and the Upanishads

In connection with the symbol of the Sun a notable and most significant. verse in a hymn of the fifth Mandala may here be mentioned; for it shows not only the profound mystic symbolism of the Vedic poets, but also how the writers of the Upanishads understood the Rig-veda and justifies their belief in the inspired knowledge of their forerunners. “There is a Truth covered by a Truth“, runs the Vedic passage, “where they unyoke the horses of the Sun; the ten hundreds stood together, there was That One;¹ I saw the greatest (best, most glorious) of the embodied gods.”² Then mark how the seer of the Upanishad translates this thought or this mystic experience into his own later style, keeping the central symbol of the Sun but without any secrecy in the sense. Thus runs the passage in the Upanishad, “The face of the Truth is covered with a golden lid. O Pushan, that remove for the vision of the law of the Truth.³ O Pushan (fosterer), sole seer, O Yama, O Sun, O Child of the Father of beings, marshal and gather together thy rays; I see the Light which is that fairest (most auspicious) form of thee; he who is this Purusha, He am I.” The golden lid is meant to be the same as the inferior covering truth, ṛtam, spoken of in the Vedic verse; the “best of the bodies of the Gods” is equivalent to the “fairest form of the Sun”, it is the supreme Light which is other and greater than all outer light; the great formula of the Upanishad, “He am I”, corresponds to That One, tad ekam of the Rig-vedic verse; the “standing together of the ten hundreds” (the rays of the Sun, says Sayana, and that is evidently the meaning) is reproduced in the prayer to the Sun “to marshal and mass his rays” so that the supreme form may be seen. The Sun in both the passages, as constantly in the Veda and frequently in the Upanishad, is the Godhead of the supreme Truth and Knowledge and his rays are the light emanating from that supreme Truth and Knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo, Hymns to the Mystic Fire: Foreword

How does the Rigveda verse match the verse in the Upanishads

We shall show how this mantra of the Upanishad fits in with that of the Rigveda.

  • In the Veda it is by the inferior truth: in the Upanishad, by the golden lid. Though, by reason of its inferiority, it acts as a covering, still it is essentially the truth and hence the covering lid is Truth and hence the covering lid is described as brilliant gold; Truth (is) concealed in the Veda, the face of the truth is concealed in the Upanishad.
  • In the Veda it is the greatest of the embodied, in the Upanishad, the most blessed form. It refers to the eternal supreme Light beyond.
  • In the Veda, it is That One; in the Upanishad, He am I.
  • In the Veda, it is ten hundreds (of rays), Sāyaņa too explains it to be so; the Upanishad plainly says, rays.
  • Released, in the Veda; marshal in the Upanishad.
  • In the Veda they stood together; the Upanishad says draw together.

( SAKSI website )

Sri Aurobindo describes the Golden Lid in Savitri

A Seer was born, a shining Guest of Time.
For him mind’s limiting firmament ceased above,
In the griffin forefront of the Night and Day
A gap was rent in the all-concealing vault;
The conscious ends of being went rolling back:
The landmarks of the little person fell,
The island ego joined its continent.
Overpassed was this world of rigid limiting forms:
Life’s barriers opened into the Unknown.
Abolished were conception’s covenants
And, striking off subjection’s rigorous clause,
Annulled the soul’s treaty with Nature’s nescience.
All the grey inhibitions were torn off
And broken the intellect’s hard and lustrous lid;
A darkness carrying morning in its breast
Looked for the eternal wide returning gleam,
Waiting the advent of a larger ray
And rescue of the lost herds of the Sun.

Sri Aurobindo, Savitri – I: The Yoga of the King: The Yoga of the Soul’s Release

Golden Lid discussed in the Life Divine

At the source of this Intuition we discover a superconscient cosmic Mind in direct contact with the supramental Truth-Consciousness, an original intensity determinant of all movements below it and all mental energies,-not Mind as we know it, but an Overmind that covers as with the wide wings of some creative Oversoul this whole lower hemisphere of Knowledge-Ignorance, links it with that greater Truth-Consciousness while yet at the same time with its brilliant golden Lid it veils the face of the greater Truth from our sight, intervening with its flood of infinite possibilities as at once an obstacle and a passage in our seeking of the spiritual law of our existence, its highest aim, its secret Reality. This then is the occult link we were looking for; this is the Power that at once connects and divides the supreme Knowledge and the cosmic Ignorance

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine – I: Supermind, Mind and the Overmind Maya

Discussions with various disciples on the Golden Lid

Disciple : How can one succeed in meditation?

Sri Aurobindo : By quietude of the mind. Above the Mind there is not only the Infinite in itself but infinite sea of peace, joy, light, etc. – above the head. The golden lid – Hiranmaya patra – intervenes between that which is above Mind and what is below. Once one can break that lid those elements can come down at any time one wills, and for that, quietude is necessary. There are people who get those things without quietude, but it is very difficult.

Disciple : It is said that there is also a veil in the heart, is it true?

Sri Aurobindo : Yes, a veil or a wall, if you like. The vital with its surface consciousness, the emotional with its disturbances and veils and one has to break through these and get to what is behind them. There, one finds the heart. In some people the higher force works behind the veil because it would meet with many obstacles if it worked in front; it builds or breaks whatever is necessary till one day the veil is withdrawn and one finds oneself in the Infinite.

[Purani, Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, 1st January, 1939]

“A veil behind the heart, a lid over the mind divide us from the Divine. Love and devotion rend the veil, in the quietude of the mind the lid thins and vanishes.”

Sri Aurobindo, On Himself: Birthday-Messages to a Sadhak



Disciple : What do you mean by the Divine or the Supreme?


Sri Aurobindo : I mean by it a consciousness of which the Gita speaks as Param Bhavam, Purushottama, Parabrahman, Paramatman. That is to say, the origin and the support and cause of every thing. It is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, everywhere, You can’t define it. You limit it if you define it. It can be described as Sachchidananda. It is everything, it is everywhere, it is in everything. It is impersonal, ‘Neti, Neti;’ it is also ‘Iti, Iti’. You can have the experience of Sachchidananda on any plane. These things cannot be known by the mind or by discussion. The “Golden lid has to be broken“.

[A.B. Purani. Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, 13th December, 1938]

A line is therefore drawn between the higher half of the universe of consciousness, parārdha, and the lower half, aparārdha. The higher half is constituted of Sat, Chit, Ananda, Mahas (the supramental) – the lower half of mind, life, Matter. This line is the intermediary overmind which, though luminous itself, keeps from us the full indivisible supramental Light, depends on it indeed, but in receiving it, divides, distributes, breaks it up into separated aspects, powers, multiplicities of all kinds, each of which it is possible by a further diminution of consciousness, such as we reach in Mind, to regard as the sole or the chief Truth and all the rest as subordinate or contradictory to it. To this action of the overmind may be applied the words of the Upanishad, “The face of the Truth is covered by a golden Lid“, or those of the Vedic rtena rtam apihitam. Here there is the working of a sort of vidyā-avidyāmayī māyā which makes possible the predominance of avidyā. It is by this primitive divisional principle that the Mind is enabled to regard, for example, the Impersonal as the Truth, the Personal as only a mask or the personal Divine as the greatest Truth and impersonality as only an aspect; it is so too that all the conflicting philosophies and religions arise, each exalting one aspect or potentiality of Truth presented to Mind as the whole sufficient explanation of things or exalting one of the Divine’s Godheads above all others as the true God than whom there can be no other or none so high or higher. This divisional principle pursues man’s mental knowledge everywhere and even when he thinks he has arrived at the final unity, it is only a constructed unity, based on an Aspect. It is so that the scientist seeks to found the unity of knowledge on some original physical aspect of things, Energy or Matter, Electricity or Ether, or the Mayavadin thinks he has arrived at the absolute Adwaita by cutting existence into two, calling the upper side Brahman and the lower side Maya. It is the reason why mental knowledge can never arrive at a final solution of anything, for the aspects of Existence as distributed by overmind are numberless and one can go on multiplying philosophies and religions forever.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – I: Planes and Parts of the Being – II

That [rising above the head] is very good. Such risings help to break down the lid between the higher and lower planes in the consciousness and prepare the wideness. Wideness is a sign of the extension of consciousness out of the ordinary limits – whiteness of the wideness means that it is the pure consciousness one is feeling, unless it is white light or luminous light which indicates the Mother’s consciousness there or some influence of it. The subtle barrier you felt must have been the same thing that prevents your ascent from the heart and from it your going beyond into the regions above. There is always a sort of a lid there and it is only when that is opened or disappears that one can go freely above. One can be aware of “unseen wideness” but one is not a self there until that is done.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – III: The Triple Transformation: Psychic – Spiritual – Supramental – II

The crown centre open removes the difficulty of the lid between the ordinary mind and the higher consciousness above. If the ājñācakra also is open, then it is possible to have a clear communication between the higher consciousness and the inner mind and the outer mind (throat centre) also. That is the condition for the realisation of knowledge and the mental illumination and transformation. The heart centre commands the psychic and vital – that opening enables the psychic influence to work in the vital and ends in the coming forward of the psychic being.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – I: Planes and Parts of the Being – XIII

That other way is the concentration in the head, in the mental centre. This, if it brings about the silence of the surface mind, opens up an inner, larger, deeper mind within which is more capable of receiving spiritual experience and spiritual knowledge. But once concentrated here one must open the silent mental consciousness upward to all that is above mind. After a time one feels the consciousness rising upward and in the end it rises beyond the lid which has so long kept it tied in the body and finds a centre above the head where it is liberated into the Infinite. There it begins to come into contact with the universal Self, the Divine Peace, Light, Power, Knowledge, Bliss, to enter into that and become that, to feel the descent of these things into the nature.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – II: Seeking the Divine

Disciple: You speak as if the Energy or Force is just above the head, and one has only to snatch it down.


Sri Aurobindo: There is a lid in between. Remove that and the Force will come tumbling down into you.

[Nirodbaran, Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, January 12, 1935]

Mother describes the Golden Lid to Satprem

Satprem: Sometimes I seem to have vibrations going out through the top of my head.


Mother Mirra: That’s something else.

Satprem: What is it? Sometimes I feel a pulling: something vibrating intensely that seems to be pulling me out through the top of the head.


Mother Mirra: It’s the opening to the higher mind.  It’s more like part of the kundalini method. It’s not an exteriorization, but the mental opening to higher realms.

Satprem: Sometimes it happens just when I’m falling asleep.


Mother Mirra: That’s how you make contact. It is indispensable.  But that results from yoga. It may be developed over lifetimes, or it may be accomplished in one lifetime, if one is ready for it. To tell the truth, it is the important part: to get through that lid at the top of the skull which keeps you shut in; there’s a kind of cover there you have to get rid of. If you can do it, it’s the sure sign that the time is ripe and you are ready for yoga – “yoga,” I mean Sri Aurobindo’s yoga.

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: September 5, 1962

17 thoughts on “The Golden Lid or Hiranmaya Patra

  1. Pingback: The phenomenon of double consciousness « Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Yes, there is. During meditation, one has to sit quietly and gently concentrate one’s attention above the top-center of the head, where the Sahasrara Chakra is located. Sri Aurobindo discusses it in the Letters on Yoga as follows:

      The power of concentration above the head is to bring peace, silence, liberation from the body sense, the identification with mind and life and open the way for the lower (mental, vital, physical) consciousness to rise up to meet the higher consciousness above and for the powers of the higher (spiritual nature) consciousness to descend into mind, life and body. This is what is called in this yoga the spiritual transformation. If one begins with this movement then the Power from above has in its descent to open all the centres (including the lowest centre) and to bring out the psychic being; for until that is done there is likely to be much difficulty and struggle of the lower consciousness obstructing, mixing with or even refusing the Divine Action from above. If the psychic being is once active this struggle and these difficulties can be greatly minimised.

      For more, see Descent experience.

  2. Pingback: « Le Vaisseau d’Or » – A new English translation of Émile Nelligan’s masterpiece | électrodes

  3. Sandeep Post author

    Anilbaran Roy experiences the piercing of the Golden Lid:

    Conversation dated 25 July 1926

    Anilbaran: The other day I saw something like a vision — may be that was only an imagination. There was over my head something like a thick lid. All of a sudden a small round hole was made in it (like that of a coin), and through this hole there came upon me a bright golden light. I was taken aback.

    Sri Aurobindo: Yes, perhaps not exactly like this, but similar visions are seen by many. It is said in the Isha Upanishad as if a hole were being bored from above through this lid. What lies above this lid is not known to man. This lid had to be pierced. The Upanishad says: hiranmayena pātrena apihitam.

    Anilbaran: Since the day I had that vision, I have almost a constant feeling that a light was playing over my head. Because I feel it to be so real, it has become somewhat easier for me to concentrate above. Before this, only the external physical world seemed to be real.

    Sri Aurobindo: One can see light above the head; that indicates a consciousness outside the body. But that itself is not the Truth-Consciousness or Vijnana. But much light descending from there illumines this consciousness.


  4. mwb6119

    Here, SA appears to be talking about the Golden Lid, but he describes it as: “the strong, hard and bright lid of mind,–mind constricting, dividing and separative.” Is this the same as the ‘Golden Lid’?

    “This also the psychic change makes possible; for as it opens us to the cosmic consciousness now hidden from us by many walls of limiting individuality, so also it opens us to what is now hidden from us by many walls of limiting individuality, so also it opens us to what is now superconscient to our normality because it is hidden from us by the strong, hard and bright lid of mind, — mind constricting, dividing and separative. The lid thins, is slit, breaks asunder or opens and disappears under the pressure of the psycho-spiritual change and the natural urge of the new spiritualised consciousness towards that of which it is an expression here. The effectuation of an aperture and its consequences may not at all take place if there is only a partial psychic emergence satisfied with the experience of the Divine Reality in the normal degrees of the spiritualised mind: but if there is any awakening to the existence of these higher supernormal levels, then an aspiration towards them may break the lid or operate a rift in it. This may happen long before the psycho-spiritual change is complete or even before it has well begun or proceeded far, because the psychic personality has become aware and has an eager concentration towards the superconscience. … If the rift in mind is made, what happens is an opening of vision to something above us or a rising up towards it or a descent of its powers into our being.” SA, The Life Divine, The triple Transformation, pp.945-6.

    And in “The Yoga of Transformation” M.P. Pandit states that the Golden Lid is above the Overmind (between Overmind and Supermind):

    “Above the Overmind there is the famous golden lid, beyond which is the higher hemisphere, beginning with Vijnana or the Supermind. A fissure, an opening has to be made in the lid above the head. The action of ascent, aspiration, is seconded by a powerful descent from above. This joint action of the ascent and the descent splits open the lid and there is a downpour of this highest Truth-Consciousness.” p.49

    Is Pandit indicating more than the one lid?

    Thank You!

    1. Sandeep Post author

      No. its the same lid referred to in all passages. The Overmind and Supermind are located (relative to human consciousness) at the Sahasrara Chakra

  5. mwb6119

    Quote from Upanishad’s by SA:

    “… Mental knowledge is not true knowledge; true knowledge is that which is based in the true sight, the sight of the Seer, of Surya, of the Kavi. Mental thought is not knowledge, it is a golden lid placed over the face of the Truth, the Sight, the divine Ideation, the Truth-Consciousness. When that is removed, sight replaces mental thought, the all-embracing truth-ideation, mahas, veda, drsti, replaces the fragmentary mental activity. True Buddhi (vijana) emerges from the dissipated action of the Buddhi which is all that is possible on the basis on the basis of the sense-mind, the manas. Vijana leads us to pure knowledge (jnana), pure consciousness (cit0. There we realise our entire identity with the Lord in all at the very roots of our being. ….” p96-7

      1. Sandeep Post author

        Sri Aurobindo, Isha Upanishad (1951 ed.), pp. 166-67.

        Looks for corresponding volume in newer editions

    1. mwb6119

      “A passionate will ignorant yet but sincere
      may break the lid that shuts off
      that Higher from this Lower Nature
      and open the floodgates.”
      Sri Aurobindo
      ref. The Synthesis of Yoga, p.180

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Yes, when our consciousness concentrates at that point above the body, it can (with Divine Grace) trigger the descent experience.

      One must be careful not to try too hard. The rest of the body must be prepared for the descending flood otherwise the experience can be counter-productive. One needs to develop Dharana-Shakti –

      The mind which normally moves in fixed patterns and becomes rigid with age can gain fluidity if we persevere.

  6. Loup Kibiloki

    Reblogged this on Électrodes – Ou la déCandification d'un exCandide (Jamais Finie) and commented:
    Can be of interest when reading : «Le Vaisseau d’Or, a new English translation of Émile Nelligan’s masterpiece» –

    Le Vaisseau d’Or

    It was a massive Ship carved out of solid Gold,
    Its masts reaching azure, she sailed on unknown seas
    With Aphrodite of love spreading out at the prow,
    Hair dishevelled and naked under excessive sun.

    But it came that the ship one night struck the great reef
    On treacherous Ocean where the Siren was singing.
    The horrible shipwreck tilted the hull aslant
    Deep down the abyss depth, immutable coffin.

    It was a Gold Vessel. Her diaphanous sides
    Were revealing treasures that the secular crew,
    Disgust and Neurosis, and Hatred, fought over.

    What’s left of it after the brief abating storm?
    What became of my heart, empty deserted ship?
    Alas, it has sunk down in the abyss of Dream.

    © Copyright 2009 Hamilton-Lucas Sinclair (Loup Kibiloki, Jacques Renaud, Le Scribe); click

  7. mike

    Darius, l think the ‘halo’ is more to do with the Aura around the head and the ‘golden lid’ is something that opens within the subtle body.


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