January , 2022
Message of the Upanishad
22:55 pm

Dr. P K Agrawal

There is a clear message that one can live a life of happiness in this world by following norms of life suggested by the seers and can prepare for salvation in this world only. One need not escape to the forests as real forests are no longer available due to environmental degradation. The Isa Upanishad gives the same message in its first verse, “Ma grdhah kasyasvid dhanam” — “Do not covet the wealth of another.” At the same time, the Upanishad in tune with the Vedas says, ‘Enjoy life with zest’, with the fruits of your own honest labour; avoid covetousness, for it will lead to exploitation, which will destroy the moral life of both the exploiter and the exploited. Exploitation in any and every form must be avoided if you want to develop your spiritual nature, your ethical nature, which is the true aim of life. In the same way, Swami Vivekananda urged, “Strength, strength is what the Upanishads speak to me from every page. O man, be not weak.” He further stated, “There is really no difference between matter, mind, and spirit. They are only different phases of experiencing the One.” According to Edmond Holmes, “The Upanishads are dominated by one paramount conception, that of the ideal oneness of the soul of man with the soul of the Universe.” According to Rabindranath Tagore, “In the Upanishads satyam and anandam are one…………. Self finds its ananda-rupam, which is its freedom in revelation, when it reveals a truth that transcends self, like a lamp revealing light which goes far beyond its material limits, proclaiming its kinship with the Sun.” The Upanishads are sacred books which deal with spiritual truths irrespective of creed and race. One may follow or observe any form of worship or any God whatever, or may not perform any ritual or formal worship whatsoever. Even formal worship is not condemned i.e., Sagun Bhakti for those who cannot concentrate in self or super self but it should be with surrender of ego, and should be without desire for fruits. Anybody irrespective of his creed, race or status in life or society can sit and meditate to reveal the Super Self through his own Self. All men are equal in the world as they have self within equal luster, purity, energy and vigour. Self of a man in a hut is as good as a person in a palace. The philosophy and religion known as ‘Sanatana Dharma’ which India owns, derives its authority from truth of character and its universal application in all places and not from any specific person or religious denomination. The true character of a teaching demands that it is verifiable by all irrespective of dogma, creed or race. It however, has a high place for saints, seers and incarnations as exemplars and teachers of the eternal truth of religion which are basically common to all religions of the world. Message of the Upanishad The central theme of all the Upanisads is ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ — ‘I am Brahman’ beside the ‘Ayam Atma Brahma’ of the Mandukya Upanishad. The Chandogya Upanishad in the same vein sings — “Tat tvam asi’’ — “That thou art.” It also prescribes a knowledge of the innate divinity of man as the one remedy for the deeper ills of life (VI. 8.7):’Tarati sokam atmant’ — ‘The knower of the Atman crosses all sorrow’. These four great propositions advise man to be fearless and attain the state of absolute fearlessness and fullness of delight. In the Invocation itself, the Isha Upanishad wishes man to achieve fullness of his being ‘purnata.’ The word purnata, fullness, has a tremendous hold on the human mind. To speak of fullness is to speak of fulfillment, integrality, wholeness and these are words which express the deep aspirations of the human heart - aspirations which cannot be long suppressed. Every pulse of the human heart, every struggle of life in general is towards fulfillment. The journey rom the finite to the infinite can be well explained by the principle of infinite in modern mathematics. From the fullness of Brahman has come the fullness of the Universe, leaving fullness alone as the remainder. There is in fact no conflict between science and religion. Both have the identical aim of helping man grow individually and of ushering in a better social order. Science like philosophy of religion aims at devising a model of the Universe that will explain all that goes on in it and also predict its future behaviour. But until scientific knowledge is brought into production, it loses its edge. Similarly, unless the abstract knowledge of self is translated into practice, it is fruitless. This is what the Upanishads preach to us. They ask us to practice knowledge given by them and to utilize the same to achieve individual liberation and well-being of the society. When we can assimilate the twin ideals of renunciation and service, tyaga and seva, we shall understand the message of the Upanishads. Tyaga, renunciation, is the theme of the very first verse of the Isha Upanishad. We are asked to rise above our little ego, self-centeredness and express our true self. It is then that the self realises its oneness with all and gives itself away to all with love and through acts of service without any attachment.

-Dr. P. K. Agrawal is a renowned writer of religion and Indian culture. He has about two dozen books in English and fifty books in Hindi. He is at present Managing Partner of a New Delhi based law firm VAS Global

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