श्री गणेश मंदिर - शिक्षा वाणी
Sri Ganesh mandir - Serene Sunday Reflections
22nd September 2019 : Upanishads
KEYWORDS:: Upanishad, Brahman, Atman, Vidya, Avidya, Karma, Moksha, Samsara, Rebirth
After Brahma Vidya and Yoga Sasthra, now we shall reflect on Upanishads.
Upanishad Upa- (near), ni- (down), shad (to sit): it translates to sitting near the guru. In olden days the students used to clarify their doubts from their teacher after formal learning from Vedas; thus Upanishads are Vedantas (the end of Knowledge). Though Hindu tradition says Upanishads are as old as Vedas, it is believed that various seers and sages compiled Upanishads between 800-500 BCE, the Upanishads are a culmination and completion of an earlier body of Hindu sacred texts called the Vedas. The Teachings of the Upanishads has Six Key Concepts - Brahman, Atman, Avidya, Karma, Moksha, and Samsara.
Brahman - The Upanishads emphasize the impermanence of the empirical world, physical reality as we experience it through our senses and it takes us to learn the imperishable - Maya – to the Ultimate Cosmic Reality too. Brahman alone is Real, unchanging and permanent; everything else is Illusion. The distinction between Maya and Brahman allows Upanishadic thinkers to affirm the unity or oneness of all things. Brahman is SatChitAnanda; “being” (sat), “consciousness” (chit), and “bliss” (ananda). Brahman is a state in which subject-object duality ceases to exist; it is not-this, it is not-that (neti, neti). [Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad, II, 3, 6].
Atman is the True Self; the individual personality, soul, or self (jiva) belongs to the realm of Maya. The jiva is conditioned by Atman. Atman is timeless, spaceless, unchanging pure consciousness, only temporarily manifested as jiva in Maya. The Upanishads teach the existence of a true Self called Atman. The Atman is to the jiva is like what the space around a jar is to the space within the jar. Space within the jar is space bounded and limited by the edges of the jar. So the jiva is Atman bounded and limited by individuality.
Tat Tvam Asi (Atman is Brahman) Chandogya Upanishad says that there is a common consciousness between Atman and Brahman.
Avidya and vidya is a perspective characterized by ignorance (avidya) of the true nature of reality and the self. A rope may appear to be a snake, this is appearance only, grounded in avidya till one gets Vidya to experience a Snake.
Samsara, Karma and Moksha can be seen as egocentric desires as Samsara creates actions (Karma) in the physical forms or vehicles for atman. Upanishadic teachings are for the Reincarnation or Rebirth (Humans live multiple embodied lives, experiencing a cyclical process of birth, death, and rebirth called samsara). Lack of satisfaction in life - is associated with material forms of existence. Rebirth is governed by karma, as per the law of cosmic justice, the moral quality of the action. Rebirth is not desirable. It implies that a person is still trapped in ignorance about the nature of reality. Suffering, associated with material existence, has not yet been transcended.
Suffering is transcended only by release from samsara and absorption into Brahman, the one ultimate reality. This is a state of knowledge, enlightenment, or absolute consciousness in which the true nature of reality (Brahman) and the true self (Atman) is perceived. It is also a state of freedom (moksha). The only thing that can be free is that which has no desire, there is nothing left to suffer. The ultimate goal is not to be reborn, the goal is to obtain moksha and be free from desire and the cycle of death and rebirth.
After reflecting Upanishads here, next week we shall see Vedas.
----- Next Week 29nd September 2019 – Vedas ------
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