By Syamal K Chattopadhyay
26 May 2008
If Vedic literature were a tree, its trunk is samhita and its branches, Brahmanas, which contain Aranyakas as its leaves and Upanishads as its flowers and fruits. The Upanishads are Vedantas — the ant or end of Vedas.
Conceptually, the samhita, mantras or riks are revelations and expressions of wonder felt by the human mind. These ultimately crystallise into philosophical pronouncements in the Upanishads. It is not certain how many Upanishads have been written.
During Akbar’s period a Upanishad in the name of the Allah was also written and it was called Allah Upanishad. Any composition to explain Vedas in general was called as Upanishads later on.
The Upanishads do not tell us to be otherworldly. They tell us to be part of the perceived world, performing all earthly and social duties while we simultaneously aspire for spiritual progress. Perform all duties without attachment. Your karma should never be a baggage.
The first shloka of the Ishopanishad tells us how to enjoy worldly things and how to live. The whole universe belongs to the omnipotent power and it permeates through all things. Whatever is enjoyable in the universe, enjoy by renouncement. Do not aspire for the other person’s wealth.
The Ishopanishad says not to avoid one’s worldly duties and obligations; ensure only that you are never attached to it. A person should always be conscious that this whole universe is pervaded by a Supreme Power. So whatever things of enjoyment come one’s way one should enjoy them without any greed or attachment. One cannot afford to say that this is mine and that is his.
Everything that we find belongs to the Supreme Power. And considering this one should make effort to live for a hundred years.
Kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya originate only by way of attachment. With no attachment you become free of all these evils. Gradually you become a free soul and do not remain bound by your surroundings any more.
The last two Ishopanishad verses speak of the evaluation of a human being who has just departed from this world.
“That now I am dead, my body is being put under flames of fire. So it is the only right time when you, fire, before consuming my body you evaluate me. You evaluate everything all that I should have done and all that I had done”.
As a soul or jivatman you existed even before birth and you will continue to exist even after passing away from this world. The Upanishad asks us to pray that let agni or fire destroy the body and then lead us further to the rightful path.
It is customary to pray for peace before the hymns or mantras of Upanishads are uttered. These prayers are called Shantipath. We pray for peace and freedom from three kinds of troubles: spiritual, physical or worldly and those caused by reasons beyond human control.
We pray for peace from these troubles because we want to make our mind calm like the placid sea and free from all troubles.
These hymns tell us how we should behave in our daily life. The hymn invoking peace in the Rigveda says our utterances should firmly come out of our mind, with no variation between our mind and speech.
However, sometimes the hymns invoking peace become highly philosophical and they guide us to the real meaning of life as the hymn invoking peace in Shukla Yajurveda: “That is whole, this is also whole, the whole or fullness originates again from the whole, if one takes away the whole out of whole only the whole remains”.
Source: Times of India
I am grateful to Mr Swaraj for the information on Upanishads. I would like him to shed some light on the Vedas as a whole. What was the time of the origin of the Vedas? Was it written by some priest or is a divine revelation like the Quran.? Is the name of any prophet mentioned in it? Muslims believe that the Vedas are also divine revelation lik the Bible and the Quran. Muslims believe in a prophet called Nooh (AS) and Hindus believe that Manu was the first man on earth. The Quran has the mention of the great Deluge in the time of Hadhrat Nuh and the Hindus believe in the Jal Parlayawan. Does any of the Vedas have any hint about Hadhrat Nuh or any other Prophet?
Dear New Age Islam readers, I am delighted to have come across this article on your website. May I share some more information with you from the internet? According to P.R.Ramachander: “The term "Upanishad" literally means the inner or mystic teaching. It is derived from upa (near), ni (down) and s(h)ad (to sit), i.e., sitting down near, which refers to groups of pupils sitting near their teacher to learn from him the secret doctrine. In the serenity of forest hermitages, the Upanishad thinkers pondered on the problems of deepest concerns and communicated their knowledge to the capable pupils that sat near them.
“Samkara derives the word Upanishad as a substitute from the root sad, 'to loosen,' 'to reach' or 'to destroy' with Upa and ni as prefixes and kvip as termination. If this determination is accepted, Upanishad means brahma-knowledge by which ignorance is loosened or destroyed. The Upanishads are found in the concluding sections of the Vedas and are classified as Vedanta, or the end of the Vedas.
There are five Vedas and each of these five books has several Saaakas (Branches). Each Saaka has a Karma Khanda dealing with the actions to be performed and is made up of Mantras and Brahmanaas. The latter deals with Upasana or meditation and has Aranyakas inside them for the benefit of those who have resorted to the quiet habitat of the forest to pursue their spiritual quest.
“The Upanishads are found mostly in the Aranyaka section of the Vedas. The five Vedas have 1180 Saaakas and thus there should be 1180 Upanishads. Of these, what exists today is a collection of 108 Upanishads. The list of these 108 Upanishads is given in the Mukthikopanishad.
“Out of the 108 Upanishads, only 10 have been commented upon by several Acharyas like Adi Shankaracharya. These are Ishavasya, Kena, Katha, Aithreya, Brihadaranyaka, Prashna, Mandukya, Taittireeya, Chandogya and Mundaka. These have also been popularized by many savants like Swami Vivekananda, Swami Chinmayananda etc. They all deal with highest category of philosophy and metaphysics. Because of this, there is a general impression that all Upanishads are texts of Hindu Philosophy. This is not true. There are Upanishads which even tell you how to wear the sacred ash, how to worship a particular God and so on. But the majority of them deal with methods of Yoga and Renunciation (Sanyasa).”
Mr.Jabali, the certainty of your assertions is interesting. The only point I shall make is that Will Durant does not have much of a standing either as a historian or as a thinker.
Only the life after this life is immortal.
Can u give us tangible proof of this? How about those who are enjoying this "after life" sending us pictures of Heaven, Hell etc?
"Brahma meaning the Supreme Power is actually derived from the Persian expression Bar hamah meaning 'above everything'"
It is actually the other way round. The Persian word is derived from the Sanskrit word. What u are saying is akin to saying that son came first and father next.
Persian is not a Muslim language. Persian existed before Muhammad and Islam. Likewise Arabic also pre-existed Muhammad and Islam. There is nothing Islamic or Muslim about these languages.
Sanskrit is the most ancient of languages and mother of Persian, English, French etc etc. Will Durant in his book on World History has acknowledged that.
"India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: She was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all."
Ok my dear Persian brother Siddiqui, This is the fact.