Saturday, December 18, 2010

Isha Upanishad: Summary

Expressing in detail each verse of the Isha Upanishad gets too long for a blog, so I will only make a brief summary of the ideas behind the Upanishad as translated in the previous post. The Isha  Upanishad follows the principle of reconciliation of extremes such as:

1) The Conscious Lord and phenomenal Nature.

2) Renunciation and Enjoyment

3) Action in Nature and freedom in the Soul.

4) The One Stable Brahman and the Multiple Movement.

5) Being and Becoming

6) The Active lord and indifferent Akshara Brahman.

7) Vidya and Avidya.

8) Birth and Non-birth.

9)Works and Knowledge.

The Upanishad doesn't glorify any extreme over the other. Renunciation is to go to the extreme, but it should be integrated with enjoyment. Action has to be complete, but so has there to be freedom of soul from its works. And while unity is the goal, it has to be brought about through experience of the multiplicity. This is much unlike later thought where God, Renunciation, Quietism, the One, Cessation of Birth, the Knowledge, were praised and the concepts of the World, Enjoyment, Action, the Many, Birth, the Ignorance were subdued, which culminated in Illusionism and the thought that existence in the world is a snare and a meaningless burden imposed on the soul by itself, which must be ended asap. The concept of seeing multiple things as one is not an insignificant one and is the basis of much science that is prevalent today. As Aldous Huxley wrote: "All science, is the reduction of multiplicities to unities."  

Going through each of the above mentioned 9 groups:

1) The Conscious Lord and the Phenomenal Nature:

  • The Nature is described as a movement of the Conscious Lord.
  • The objective of this movement is to create forms of his consciousness so that He can enjoy the multiplicityby occupying many bodies as the one soul and enjoy the movement by their relations.

2) Enjoyment & Renunciation:

  • Enjoyment of the above mentioned movement depends upon renunciation of the principle of desire founded on the principle of egoism and not a renunciation of world existence.

3) Action & Freedom:

  • In this regard, the Upanishad believes that actions are not inconsistent with the soul's freedom, and that it only appears that man is bound by his works.
  • He has to recover his freedom by recovering the consciousness of unity in the Lord, unity in himself, unity with all existence.
  • After this, he should embrace life and work completely, and work towards manifestation of Lord in them, since that is the law and objective of our life.

4) The quiescence and the movement:

  • The Quiescence of the Supreme being and his movement are just one Brahman and to discriminate between them is a function of our consciousness.

5) Being and Becoming:

  • Being is one, Becomings are many, but this simply means that all Becomings are one Being.
  • The individual is urged to see the One Being, but we have not to cease to see the many Becomings and are included in the Brahman's view of Himself.

6) The active and the inactive Brahman:

  • Both of these are simply two aspects of the one self, the one Brahman, who is the Lord.
  • The inaction is the basis of the action and exists in the action. This inaction is actually His freedom from all He does and becomes.

7) Vidya and Avidya:

  • The consciousness of unity is Vidya and the consciousness of multiplicity (which is the result of the movement of the one consciousness) is Avidya.
  • This consciousness sees all things as one in its truth idea. but differentiate in mentality and formal becoming.
  • The cause of the ego-sense is recognition of only Avidya and avoiding Vidya.

8) Birth and Non-Birth:

  • The self is uniform and undying and in itself always possesses immortality. 
  • It does not need to descend into Avidya and Birth to get the immortality of Non-birth; for its possesses it always. 
  • It descends in order to realize and possess it as the individual Brahman in the worldly life.

9) Works and Knowledge: 

  • Works and knowledge oppose each other only until they are of the egoistic mental character.
  • Mental activity is essentially fragmentary, & only when the ego is diminished does it see the Oneness behind everything.
  • It is then, that True Buddhi (Vijnana) emerges from the Buddhi which is possible on the basis of the senses.
  • Vijnana leads us to pure knowledge (Jnana), pure consciousness (Chit). There, we realise our entire identity with the Lord in all.
  • In Vijnana, Will & Sight are combined and no longer as in the mind separated from each other.
  • Thereafter our will becomes the law of truth in us, and knowing all its acts and their sense and objective leads to the human goal, which is the enjoyment of Ananda, the Lord's delight in self being the state of Immortality.
  • In our acts also, we become one with all beings and no longer proceed on the path of egoism based on divisiveness.