The Ishvasya Upanishad

The Ishvasya Upanishad

The Upanishads are the very foundation of Indian spiritual thought. Such is their intrinsic value that even foreigners have been fascinated by the vision of the ancient Indian seers.

Thus has Max Mueller said “The Upanishads are the sources of the Vedanta philosophy, a system in which human speculation seems to me to have reached its very acme”.

Being the concluding portions of the Vedas, the Upanishads contain the essence of the Vedic thoughts. Two concepts that are predominantly seen in all the Upanishads are the value of real or true knowledge and the need for detachment. By real or true knowledge is meant knowledge of the ultimate reality as a means to the pursuit of truth.

This ultimate reality is called as Brahman, the all pervading force, which is also the inmost soul of the individual, called as the Atman.  The Upanishads stress that there is a spiritual reality which is in and beyond all perceived facts and which is the cause for all that is in this universe, including the individual self.

Detachment implies control of desires, not acomplete cessation of it. Detachment does not mean ignoring social responsibilities, but rather a philosophy of doing one’s ordained duties in a spirit of service, without anyselfish motives.

The Ishavasya Upanishad is one of the ten major Upanishads, notable for the loftiness of the thoughts expressed therein, providing immense scope for mankind to learn the way to lead a life of inner enrichment and rectitude.  In eighteen stanzas, this Upanishad talks of the nature of the ultimate truth, the difference between reality and unreality and between knowledge and ignorance.

A prayer for peace heralds the beginning of this work, with the meaningful statement that what comes out of the full is the full and the full remains undiminished, implying that this universe is pervaded by the higher power which is unchanging, irrespective of the demands made on it by creation.  

The very first stanza says that the Lord encompasses this constantly changing universe and exhorts man to renounce his desires and enjoy life by not coveting other’s riches.  In the second stanza, man is directed to aspire for a long life by incessantly performing his ordained duties.

Those who ignore the divinity residing in their selves are destined to a life of darkness One who knows the difference between  knowledge and ignorance, between the real and the unreal attains immortality.

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