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«QUINTESSENCE OF UPANISHADS ( Upanishad Saaraamsha) Translated and interpreted by V.D. N.Rao, former General Manager of India Trade Promotion ...»

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( Upanishad Saaraamsha)

Translated and interpreted by V.D. N.Rao, former General Manager of India Trade Promotion

Organisation, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi now at Chennai

Other scripts by same author

Essence of Puranas:

Maha Bhagavata, Vishnu, Matsya, Kurma, Varah, Vamana, Narada,Padma, Shiva, Skanda,

Markandeya, Devi Bhagavata, Brahma, Brahma Vaivarta, Brahmanda, Agni, Bhavishya, Nilamata, and Shri Kamakshi Vilasa. Index of main subjects covered in Essence of Puranas too.

Dwadasha Divya Sahasra Naama:

Charurvidha Devi Sahasra Naama: Lakshm, Lalitha, Saraswati, Gayatri Chaturvidha Shiva Sahasra Naama: Shiva- Linga-Brahma Puranas and Maha Bharata Chaturvidha Vishnu Sahasra Naama: Padma-Skanda-Narada Puranas and Maha Bharata Stotra Kavacha- A Shield of Prayers Purana Saaraamsha Select Stories from Puranas Essence of Dharma Sindhu Essence of Paraashara Smriti Essence of Pradhana Tirthas Essence of Amarnath Yatra Essence of Dharma Bindu * Essence of Upanishads Rig Veda Base: Kausheetaki*, Atreyi Yajur Veda Base: Brihadaaranyaka, Katha, Taittiriya, Isha, and *Shvetaashvatara Saama Veda Base: Chhandogya, Kena Atharva Base: Mundaka, Maandukya and Prashna Quintessence of Dwaadasha Upanishads













( Upanishad Saaraamsha) Deva Pitru kaaryaabhaam na pramaditavyam Maatru Devo bhava, Pitru Devo bhava, Aacharya Devo bhava, Atithi Devo bhava yaanyanavadyaani karmaani taani sevitavyaani, no itaraani/ ( Let there be no lapse in executing sercces to Devas and Pitru Devas; let your mother be a Goddess, father aGod preceptor a God and a Guest be a God; shun away all acts that are blameworthy and dutifully execute deeds deserving comendation and nothing else) Om, Sa hanaavavatu sahanou bhunaktu, sa ha veeryam karavaavahai, Tejaswinaavadheetamastu maa vidvishaavahai, om shanti shanti shantih/ May we be protected, well nourished and blessed to think and act in the quest of Truth and Almighty! May there be Universal Peace, Peace and Peace for ever) [ Commands of Taittiriya Upanishad vide SikshaValli]


The term ‘Upanishad’ is literally stated as follows: ‘Upa’ stands Nearness to Totality- ‘Ni’ for knowledge- ‘Shad’ means the Provider. These are a component of Vedas; in Vedas, ‘Karma Kaanda’ or Acts of Sacrifice and of Rituals are detailed in ‘Brahmanas’, ‘Upaasana Kaanda’ or the Methodology of Meditation are described in ‘Aranyakas, and ‘Jnaana Kaanda’ delineates in Upanishads. Thus these are all the integral parts of Vedas. Upanishads are titled as ‘Vedaanta’ since they constitute the terminal part of Vedas. Knowledge of the Oriental Hindu Philosophy, Principles of Dharma, Cultural Traditions are rooted to Upanishads.Of the Evolution of the Triology, Upanishads occupy the prime position, while ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and ‘Brahma Sutras’ came to light subsequently. Upanishads are ‘Shravanaatmakaas’ or sonorous to hear, while ‘Gita’ is stated as ‘nididhyaasa-aatmaka’ or based on cogitation and Brahma Sutraas are mentally absorptive and hence the ‘moksha vidya’ or the Unique Process of Learning and Study of Hindu Philosophy of Human Salvation!

According to ‘Upanishanmahaa Vaakya Kosha’ or the Treatise of that Title, it is stated there are as many as 223 Upanishads. In ‘Muktikopa- nishad’ however only 108 are stated to have been identified. Adi Shankara provided ‘bhashya’ or detailed explanation to ten Upanishads. In ‘Muktikopanishad’ only Ten were listed: Isha Kena Katha Prashna Munda Maandukya Tittirih, Aitareyam cha Chhandogyam Brihadaaranyakam dashah/ Additionally, Koushitaki, Shwetaashvatara, and Maitraayani Upanishads also were prominently mentioned as per Oriental ‘Bhashya Kartas’ or ancient analysists. The.remaining Upanishads are either addressed to specific Deva-Devis, or of Tantric orientation. Also some of the other Upanishads are coursed in Gadya-Padyatmika or Prose-Poetry projection, Jyotisha-Bhougola Sanketas or Astrology or Geographical Analyticals, and some of ‘Kaala Nirnaya’ or Determination of Time Cycle Schedule context. Likewise some Upanishads are devoted to Nirguna Brahma which are of immemorial times, some exclusively delineating Vishnu-Shiva differenciation as of middle-ages and some others are of Sankhya Yoga Tatwa. In any case, modern stalvarts of Hindu Thought had strongly expressed the view that all the Upanishads of the Yore were scripted some time in 2500-1800 BC that is far well before Buddha Yuga. There are strong opinions that Chhandogya, Brihadaranyaka, Ishavaasya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Prashna, Mundaka, Maandykya Upanishads are the oldest of the yore while Shvetaashvatara, Kaushitaki Upanishads were of later timings and Kathopanishad etc were of the ages in between.

Narration of Twelve Upanishads The order in which the Upanishads are given below is as follows: Atreya and Kaushitaki Upanishads of Rig Veda; Isha, Brihadaranyaka, Taittireeya, Katha and Svetashvatara Upanishads of Yajur Veda;

Chhandogya and Kena of Saama Veda; and finally Prashna, Mundaka and Maandukya Upanishads.

I) Aitareya Upanishad

Of Rig Veda course is Aitareya Upanishad and in the Aranyaka portion, Srishti Tatwa or the philosophy of Evolution of Creation of the Universe is detailed describing how Paramatma was self manifested and crafted the Universe and the Lokas viz. Heaven, Sky to support, the Earth and the Water there under.The higher Lokas above the Bhu Loka were Bhuvar-Swar-Mahar-Janar-Tapo-Satya-Lokas and the Under Water Worlds comprised Atala-Vitala-Sutala, Talaatala-Mahatala-Rasaatala and Patalas. Then the Loka Palakas were created to adminiser and safeguard the Fourteen Lokas and they were Ashta Palakas viz.

Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirruti, Varuna, Vayu, Kubera and Ishana. Then was manifested the Virat Swarupa Purusha a proto type human form with limbs and sensory organs who in turn tore off his form as Maya the female power to further the creation of human and all other species, be they as Yonija-AndajaSvedaja- Udbhuja or born of humans, eggs, moisture or sprung from earth. Virat Swarupa manifested Praana the Vital Energy, Food, and the concepts like Samsara-Virtue and Vice-Karma Phala- Ignorance and Knowledge- entry of Devas to the stations of organs and senses of bodies of various species most obviously noticeble among humans like Agni in mouth and speech, Vaayu as nose’s breathing, Surya in the vision of eyes,, Dishas and hearing by ears, Vanaspati in skins and touch, Chandra in heart and mind, Jala Deva in excretion and creation of progeny and finally Mrityu in the Out-breath. Thus the Almighty Brahman enters each and every Being from Brahma to a piece of grass as Antaratma or the SelfConscience. The easiest yet the most difficult question ever is Kah ayam atmaa or which is that Self worship worthy! The reply would be the Antaratma or the Inner Consciousness: the expressions such as ‘Samjnaanam’ or the emotive sentience being the state of consciousness, vigjnaanam or worldly awareness or knowledge, pragjnaanam or instant mental responsiveness, medha or brain power and retention capacity, drishti or discernment and perception through senses, mathih or capacity to think pros and cons, manishaor mastertminded skill of planning, juutih or capacity of forbearance, smriti or memory power, sankalpa or ability to initiate and decide, kratuh or tenacity and dedication, asuh or calculated sustenance, kaamah or craving obsession all ending up in Vashah or forceful possession; all these are rolled into one word viz. Conscience or the super imposition of the totality of senses viz. speech, vision,touch,taste and generation. It indeed that kind of ascent of self consciousness that submerges kartakarma-kriya into Brahman, once mortals attain at least of intervals of Immortality if not Brahmatva itself!

II) Kaushitaki Upanishad

Of RIG VEDA orientation, Kaushitaki Upanishad opens with the concepts of Deva Yaana and PitruYaana and about the passage of Soul after death. As one leaves the world, all the Beings are stated to reach the gate way viz. the Chandra Loka first; if fortunate on the basis of the karma phala or the balance account of good or negative results of the previous births, the gates get opened to Swarga or higher Lokas to the extent of what the positive account decides; if not the return starts and on way back experiences negative results and then retuns back to earth by way of rains and is reborn again on the basis of karma phala is reborn as a worm, insect, fish, bird, lion, or snake or as a human being. During the period of expectancy or the period in the garbha or the womb, the Praani or the Self would be in the form of Pure Consciousness and once delivered the thick cover of Ignorance or Maya envelopes and adopts the features and actions of the newly born. On the other hand if the departed Soul has an excellent track record and is destined to reach up to higher lokas right up to Brahma Loka due to Sacrifices, Tatwa jnaana, and so on then he or she attains the status of Brahma itself! How such blessed Soul is pampered with divine experiences are detailed in this Upanishad. Thus Kaushitaki in the portion of Aaranyka once over, the final chapter deals with ‘Paraa Vidya’ and ‘Brahma Vidya’. King Gargyayani teaches ‘Paraa Vidya’ or the Highest Wisdom to Uddaalaka Aaruni that Brahma was in the celestial forms as Surya, Chanda, Vidyut or Lightning, Thunder, Vayu, Agni and Aapsu Purusha or Water. But at the end, the King of Kashi Ajatashatru negated the theory of Baakaaki Gargya and proves finally that Antaratma is indeed the reflection of Paramatma: Ya eteshaam Purushaanaam karta yasya tat karma savaiveditavyah ; thus Brahma Vidya was taught by Ajatashatru to Baalaaki.

III) Isha Upanishad

Anchored firmly to the School of Shukla Yajur Veda, is Isha Upanishad which is a small Upanishad in size hardly comprising Eighteen Stanzas but yet a very powerful treatise from the view point of Supreme ‘Jnaana’ exhorting to perform ‘Karmaacharana’ or Deeds of High Valued and concentrated Acts of Virtue and Sacrifices even necessarily without resorting to ‘Sanyasa’ the Ultimate Step of Varnashrama of Brahmacharya- Grihasthata- Vaanaprastha but through out practise and totally devote lifelong detachment

of material needs without reference to milestones of Life. Isha Upanishad’s very opening stanza states:

Om/ Ishaavaasyamodam sarvam yatkincha jagatyaam jagat, tena tyaktena bhunjeethaa maa gridhah kasyasviddhanam/ or Detachment and Deliberation are the rudiments of Reliasing theSupreme. The further stanzas teach the following: Righteous action irrespective of fruits begets further longevity to keep pursuing the path of enlightenment; Involvement of evil actions caused by panchendriyas like vision, hearing, touch, breathing, generation accentuated by mind blinds the Essentail Truth and the pace of recovery would be too slow even nil; Unity of Self and the Supreme is evident and harnessing body parts and senses is of paramountcy to reiterate that essential Truth; both the Inner Self and the Supreme are stable yet on the move, nearby yet distantly unrealised, right within but without calling for intense introspection; the Self has no hatred for others since the action-reaction syndrome does not affect it in the least and those Yogis when realise this Reality wonder where there is hatred and what is the love; As there is ‘tadaadmya’ or absolute Identity, the Self and Supreme ought to be the same, irrespective of the play of senses and thoughts that the body carries; the Supreme is all pervading, unborn, bodyless yet allots clear instructions to follow by all entities; Pursuit of the path of Vidya and Avidya ie Knowledge against blind Ignorance needs to be distinguished since the latter enter the portals like rites, rituals and Sacrifices or get stuck to karma kaanda alone but Vidya is the higher plane of Learning ; Fruits of Vidya on the ascent path by wisdom, meditation and Karma or Work defined and duly blended;Knowledge and Ignorance both cross life and death but the former gets bliss while the latter gives rebirth; Prakriti or Maya and Purusha are manifest/ unmanifest but what is really worthy of worship be distinguished clearly;

maya creates, preserves, destroys and recreates but the Driving Force is the Supreme; worship to Maya and Hiranyagarbha differs -one by ‘Karma’ another by ‘dharmaacharana’ and detachment; Truth and Immortality are concealed under the thick blanket of ignorance, may Surya open the Solar Orbit and let the golden vessel unveil Brahman or in other words worship to Solar Orbit reveals a golden disc and a Face within as Brahman ; solar Orbit discloses the Truth that Brahman is Surya Himself as it represents vision, the signs of death as also Bhur-Bhuvah-Swaha; Eternal Truth as divulged by worshipers is the Golden Disc or the Solar Orb and that the Supreme is Vayu the Vital Force; Vidya or Avidya, Deed or Misdeed, but the Ultimate Reality is Death and Agni. Thus Karmacharana be utilised to conquer ‘mrityu’and and utilise atma jnaana to accomplish ‘Amritatva’: Avidyayaa mrityumteertvaa, vidyaya amritamasnute//

IV) Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad

Now on to the Shukla Yajur Veda related Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad, the most significant and voluminous Six Chaptered treatise with as many as forty Brahmanas or sections. The first chapter with six Brahmanas describes the first ever ‘Ashvamedha Yagna’ with Hiranygarbha’s own body as the Sacrifice and the resultant Creation of the Universe initially of Devaasura Srishti and the origin of ‘Udgita’ a powerful medium to control evil forces. Prajapati the Over Lord of the Universe emerges as ‘Ahamasmi’ or I am Myself and manifests Purusha and Prakriti from himself; besides Upa Devas like Rudraadityas;

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