UPANISHADS are considered to be HINDUISM’s “holiest scriptures” speaking of a path for attaining MOKSHA (read LIBERATION). After having completed reading 11 main UPANISHADS, namely ISHA, KATHA, BRIHADARANYAKA, CHANDOGYA, SHVETASHVATARA, MUNDAKA, MANDUKYA, KENA, PRASHNA, TAITTIRIYA and AITERAYA, I have found myself rather intrigued by their wisdom. Following are some of their best teachings:
Speaking of the ATMA, The KATHA UPANISHAD ( II.2.9) suggests:
Just like fire which assumes different shapes after it consumes objects differing in shape, so does Self takes the shape of every creature in which it is present.
On the idea of IMMORTALITY, KATHA ( II.3.14-15 ) says:
When all desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal. When all knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal…
Defining personality of the ATMA (often referred as SELF) ISHA UPANISHAD (8) mentions:
The self is everywhere. Bright is the self, indivisible, untouched by sin, wise, immanent and transcendent. He it is who holds the cosmos together.
Defying the idea of INCOMPLETE SELF prevalent even in the world which we live in, ISHA UPANISHAD declares:
All this is full. All that is full. From fullness, fullness comes. When fullness is taken from fullness, fullness still remains…
It is important in life to “succeed” one must be free of FEAR and GRIEF, ISHA (6-7) advice in this regard:
Those who see all creatures in themselves and themselves in all creatures knows no FEAR. Those who see all creatures in themselves and themselves in all creatures knows no GRIEF.
It lays significant emphasis on he idea of IMMORTALITY – to attain which ISHA ( 17 ) preaches:
May my life emerge in the immortal. When my body is reduced to ashes. O mind, meditate on the eternal self. Remember the deeds of the past. Remember, O mind, remember.
CHANDOGYA UPANISHAD‘s emphasis on TRUTH is significant:
Lead me from the unreal to real. Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality…
SAGE SHANDILYA in CHANDOGYA explains the relationship between UNIVERSE & ATMA (referred here as BRAHMAN):
This universe comes forth from BRAHMAN, exists from BRAHMAN, and will return to BRAHMAN. Verily ALL IS BRAHMAN.
SHANDILYA further continues:
A person is what his deep desire is. It is our deepest desire in the life that shapes the life to come. So let us direct our deepest desire to realize the self.
In Chapter 26, hymn 2, CHANDOGYA provides an idea for endless joy:
Control the senses purify the mind. In a pure mind there is constant awareness of the self. Where there is constant awareness of the self. Where there is constant awareness of the self, freedom ends bondage and joy ends sorrow.
MUNDAKA UPANISHAD‘s emphasis is on GOOD FOR ALL (not “greater good”):
May we hear only what is good for all. May we only see what is good for all. May we serve you Lord of Love all your life. May we be used to spread peace on earth.
Joy according to TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD is sourced from the self. TAITTIRIYA ( II.7.1 ) explains:
The Self is the source of abiding joy. Our hearts are filled with joy in seeing him. Enshrined in the depths of consciousness. If he were not there, who would breathe, who would live? He it is who fills every heart with joy.
On WISDOM TAITTIRIYA (5.1) is candid:
WISDOM means a LIFE of SELFLESS SERVICE. Even the gods seek WISDOM. Those who attain WISDOM are freed from sin and find all their selfless desires granted.
PARAMAHANSA UPANISHAD mentions OBJECTIVE of ATMA as EVOLUTION:
When his mind sheds every selfish desire he becomes free from the duality of pleasure and pain and rules his senses. No more is the capable of ill will; no more is he subject to elation. For his senses come to rest in the Self. Entering into the unitive state, he attains the goal of evolution. Truly he attain goal of EVOLUTION.
Following “mystical” stanza, originally found in RIG VEDA ( I.164.20 ), is repeated in several UPANISHAD:
Two birds of beautiful plumage, comrades inseparable, live on the selfsame tree. One bird eats the fruit of pleasure & pain; the other looks on without eating.