Beach 2: First Steps in the Ascent to the Divine

Wave 5: Ancient Scriptures of Hinduism

Drop 1. SRUTI

Page 3: Upanishads

smRti: itihAsa: purANa: Agama: darSana

Upanishads are excursions into metaphysics and philosophy occurring in the last portions of each branch of each veda.From out of the 1180 branches that are supposed to have existed 5000 years ago, at present only around 120 Upanishads are extant. Of these, ten are considered to be most fundamental. These are the first ten listed in the bod under Upanishads in the Scriptures chart.

Over the centuries, the importance attached to the different portions of the vedas has been shifting. In modern times it is the Upanishads that make the strongest appeal. Some of them are very long and some very short. The Mandukyopanishad has only twelve very short paragraphs in prose. The Brihadaranyako-panishad is as long as the Biblical New Testament. Some Upanishads are in prose, some in verse. But all are discourses and dialogues about spiritual experiences. These dwell on fundamental questions about life, birth, death and man's ultimate objective.

What is meant by Absolute Reality?

How was the world created?

What is man's place in the universe?

What is the purpose of his journey through life?

What is knowledge?

What are the means to acquire that knowledge?

How does one analyze one's mental experience?

How does one reach the state of everlasting bliss, if there is one?

All such questions are daringly posed and relentlessly pursued. The theme usually ends up declaring:

THE DIVINE IS ESSENTIALLY IN THE DEPTH OF ONE'S OWN SELF.

TAP IT. BE IN CONSTANT TOUCH WITH IT.

RECOGNIZE THAT DIVINITY IN THE SELF OF EVERY BEING.

ACT IN THE LIVING PRESENT GUIDED BY THAT AWARENESS.

THAT IS THE WAY TO BE HAPPY, EVER.

Many portions of the Upanishads have been considered by philosophers all over the world to be the most profound records of human thought. Upanishads are therefore considered to be the crown jewel of the vedas. They tell us that we are not to wander everywhere in search of God. No such quest will reveal Him. He stays very close to us. But we have to transcend the very time and space which limit our vision. It is the alternating states of the mind which are caused by the interplay of time and space that delude us. The Upanishads tell us to long to be free from the play of time and space and ultimately realise the Truth by self-experience.

For a fairly detailed summary of what the Upanishads have to tell us in respect of the above and similar questions, go to

Essence of Upanishads.

Copyright V. Krishnamurthy Oct.24, '99 Homepage CONTENTS Previous page NEXT