There is no book in the whole world that is so thrilling, soul-stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads. The philosophy taught by the Upanishads has been the source for many, both in the East and the West. The Upanishads teach the Philosophy of absolute unity. They contain the sublime truths of Vedanta and practical hints and clues which throw much on the pathway of Self-realisation.
The Eternal Wisdom of the Sages of India is stored in the Upanishads. The Upanishads are the cream of the Vedas. Each of the four Vedas, the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. Has its own philosophical and mystical crowning teaching which go by the name of the Upanishads. The breadth of vision, the profundity of insight and the marvellous gamut of inclusiveness revealed in these holy writings, considered as Sruti, or revealed Divine Messages, are remarkable and breath-taking.
Dialogues from the Upanishads is collection of the most sublime and thrilling portions of the Upanishads, the only authentic source of spiritual knowledge, that treat of Jnana or Knowledge of the Self. The interpretation of the verses is at once appealing and original. It is hoped, however, that spiritual aspirants all the world over will be benefited to a considerable extent by this publication, for while it serves as a kindly light that leads the aspirants on through the dark alleys of Vedanta, it also contains a mine of information and knowledge to the layman as well.
Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Sage Appayya Dikshitar and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind.
His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought that his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a health journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all; dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission.
It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, practised intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, saint, sage and Jivanmukta.
In 1932 Swami Sivananda started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born The Divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organised. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 Swamiji undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 Swamiji convened a 'World Parliament of Religions'. Swamiji is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds. To read Swamiji's works is to drink at the Fountain of Wisdom Supreme. On 14th July, 1963 Swamiji entered Mahasamadhi.
Though Upanishads treat exclusively of the Jnana-Kanda or Knowledge-portion of the Vedas, yet you will find a mixture of Jnana, Bhakti and Karma in some portions of the Upanishads. You will find in Isavasya Upanishad Jnana-nishtha, Karmanishtha and prayer to Surya and Agni as well in the end. In the closing portion of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad there is a description of a Yajna. Chhandogya Upanishad abounds in Upasana in the preliminary portion.
A neophyte is bewildered when he takes to the study of the Upanishads. I have culled out the dialogues from the Upanishads which treat of Jnana or Knowledge of the Self and have expressed the ideas in a lucid manner. The knotty, abstruse, intricate portions are nicely explained. I have made the subject matter very interesting and attractive. A book of this description has never been presented to the public yet.
The dialogues between Uddalaka and Svetaketu in the Chhandogya Upanishad, between Yajnavalkya and Raja Janaka in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad are extremely thrilling and highly instructive. The dialogues in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad contain advanced lessons.
I hope this book will prove to be a valuable companion to the aspirants who thirst for Knowledge and Self-realisation. Here is a message of hope, bliss, immortality, secret of life and Knowledge of Brahman.
Om Sri Sadguru Paramatmane Namah
The word Upanishad is formed by adding the Krip suffix and the prefixes Upa and Ni to the root Shad, meaning (1) to shatter or kill; (2) to attain; (3) to loosen. By the word Upanishad is denoted the knowledge of the knowable entity inculcated by the work which is to be commented on. By what etymological process this knowledge is denoted by the term Upanishad is now explained. This knowledge is called Upanishad by virtue of its signification that it shatters or destroys, the seed of Samsara such as ignorance and the rest, in those seekers after emancipation, who, devoid of all desires for objects seen and heard of, acquire the knowledge called Upanishad to be hereafter explained, and with their mind firmly concentrated therein meditate on it; for, it will also be said later on 'well ascertaining that he will be freed from the jaws of death'; or the knowledge of Brahman is called Upanishad because of the fact that it leads to Brahman, in that it makes the seekers after emancipation just above described attain the highest Brahman; for, it will be said later on, 'having attained the Brahman he becomes untainted and immortal'; or, even 'the knowledge of Agni' is denoted by the term Upanishad, because of its connection with the meaning of the root 'to loosen'; for the knowledge of Agni, the first born, the knower, born of Brahman-the subject matter of the second of the boons asked for-leads to the attainment of heaven and thus loosens or enfeebles the lot of misery, such as residence in the womb, birth, old age, etc., continually recurring in this world. It will also be said later on, 'having reached heaven they enjoy immortality'. It may be urged that students apply the term Upanishad even to the book, as when they say 'we shall study or teach the Upanishad'. This is no fault; as the meaning of the root sad, i.e., the killing of the cause of Samsara, etc., cannot attach to the mere work but attaches to knowledge; and even the mere work may also be denoted by that word, because it serves the selfsame purpose, as when it is said 'ghee verily is life'. The word Upanishad, therefore, is used in its primary sense when it is used to denote knowledge; but it is used by courtesy, i.e., in a secondary sense, to denote the work. Thus by the mere analytical explanation of the word Upanishad, those who are fully competent to acquire knowledge have been stated. The whole subject matter of knowledge has also been stated to be the highest Brahman, the internal Atman of all. The fruit of this knowledge has also been stated to be the thorough release from the bondage of Samsara consisting in the attainment of the Brahman.
The meaning of the Upanishad is, it may be either because it lessens the numerous evils of conception, birth, old age, disease, etc., in persons who take kindly to this knowledge of Brahman and approach it with faith and devotion; or, because it makes them reach Brahman; or, because it totally destroys the cause of Samsara, such as ignorance, etc., thus from the several meanings of the root shad preceded by upani.
Saunaka, the great Grihastha, questioned Angirasa: "Kasminnu bhagavo vijnate sarvamidam vijnatam bhavati-O Bhagavan, what is that, which being known, all this becomes known?" It is Para-vidya by which the Immortal Brahman is known.
By acquiring Brahma Jnana, what is not heard becomes heard; what is not seen becomes seen; what is not thought of becomes thought of; and what is not known becomes known;
You can bore diamond with a bristle. You can tie an infatuated elephant with a slender silken thread. You can bring the sun down for the play of your child. You can make the flame of fire burn always downwards. But it is difficult to control the mind.
He who has no Atma Jnana is only a confirmed fool, even though he is a learned Pandit with knowledge of the six schools of philosophy, even though he is a research scholar of Oxford or Harvard University with M.A., Ph.D., Sc. D.Lit. titles. Their intellects are still stony and barren.
One may know by heart all the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, the Gita, the Shad Darshanas, the Angas, the Smritis, western philosophy, etc. There is no salvation for such a learned man without the realisation of one's identity with Brahman through constant, intense meditation-not even in hundreds of crores of years.
Nature of Brahman
Who Himself sees all, whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, etc., but whom they cannot illumine. That is Brahman. That is Atman. That is Shyam. That is Ram.
That unheard Hearer, the unseen Seer, the unthought Thinker, the unknown Knower, is Brahman.
That unborn, undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless (ajam, ajaram, amritam, abhayam) essence is Brahman.
That from which the world has come out, That in which this world subsists, That in which this world gets dissolved is Brahman.
That in which there is neither east nor west, neither light nor darkness, neither pleasure nor pain, neither hunger not thirst, neither elation nor sorrow, neither gain nor loss is Brahman.
He who dwells in this eye, who is within this eye, whom the eye does not know, whose body is the eye, who rules the eye from within is thy Self, inner Ruler, Immortal (Atma, Antaryamin, Amritam).
He is the Eye of the eyes, Ear of the ears, Prana of Pranas, Mind of minds, Light of lights, Sun of suns, King of kings, Shah of Shahs, Emperor of emperors.
That something than gaining which there is no greater gain, than knowing which there is no greater knowledge, than whose bliss there is no greater bliss, that must be known as Brahman or Atman.
There is something dearer than wealth. There is something dearer than a son. There is something dearer than a wife. There is something dearer than Prana (life). That something is thy Self, Inner Ruler, Immortal (Atma, Antaryamin, Amritam). That something is Brahman.
Jnana Yoga Sadhana
Samadhi is superconscious state. It is union with Brahman. It is of two kinds: viz., Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa. When the mind is fixed in the Advaita Brahman along with Jnata (knower), Jnana (knowledge) and Jneya (knowable) (Triputi sahita), it is Savikalpa Samadhi. There is recognition of subject and object in this Samadhi. This Savikalpa Samadhi is of two kinds: (1) Sabdanuvid or with words and (2: Sabdananuvid or without words.
When the Samadhi is associated with the sound 'I am Brahman-Aham Brahma Asmi, it is Sabdanuvid. When it is not associated with the sound of Aham Brahma Asmi', it is Sabdananuvid.
In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the mind is fixed in Advaita Brahman without any Triputi, i.e., any idea of knower, knowledge and knowable and is without recognition of subjecl and object. Savikalpa Samadhi is a means (Sadhana) to the end-Nirvikalpa Samadhi which is the result or fruit.
"Though there is a perception of duality in the Savikalpa Samadhi, inasmuch as there is distinct recognition of subject and object, yet the duality only helps to know the Advaita Brahman; in the same way as in an earthen object, there is a perception of earth, though there be an appearance of an earthen jar, etc. So too, is there the perception of the second less Brahman alone, even though there be an appearance of duality."
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is of two kinds, viz., (1) Advaita Bhavanarupa Samadhi which is Vritti-sahita. Brahmakara Vritti is present here. (2) Advaita Avasthanarupa Samadhi which is Vritti-rahita. Brahmakara Vritti dies here. Advaita Bhavanarupa Samadhi is Sadhana (means) to the end-Advaita Avasthanarupa Samadhi which is the result or fruit.
In Vichara Sagara you will find: "In this manner the difference between the two kinds of meditation is established; that is to say, in the meditation with recognition of subject and object, there is a perception of duality with that of Brahman, and in the meditation without recognition of subject and object, there is no conscious perception of the three integral constituents, knower, knowledge and object to be known; likewise with the state of profound slumber and this second variety of meditation, there is this difference, that in the former, there is an absence of modification of the mental function in the shape of Brahman while in the latter, there is no perception of it. Thus then, there is an entire absence of the integral organ with its function in profound slumber, while in the unconscious meditation there is only a want of the perception, though the integral organ and its function are modified into the shape of Brahman; now this modification proceeds from the practice of the conscious variety of meditation; hence that is reckoned as one of the eight means, whose result is this meditation without recognition of subject and object.
"Unconscious meditation is of two kinds: (1) Non-dual mental perception. (2) Non-dual form of resting in Brahman.
"(1) When the non-dual modification of the internal organ after it has assumed the shape of Brahman arises with the unknown function, it is called a form of non-dual mental perception of the unconscious meditation. Here much practice is needed, so that the functional modification of Brahman also ceases.
"(2) When the function has been completely done away with, it constitutes the non-dual condition of unconscious meditation. Then, just as water sprinkled on red hot iron is absorbed into the body of the metal, so by such persevering and firm practice of the non-dual perceptional form of the unconscious meditation, the function merges into the extremely manifested Brahman; and this resting on the non-dual Brahman form of unconscious meditation, is the chief result of which the first, or perceptional is a means only.
"Between the non-dual resting and profound slumber, the difference consists in the merging of the mental function in Ignorance in the latter, and the merging of the same function into the extremely tangible Brahman in the former; the felicity of the latter is enveloped in Ignorance while the blissfulness of Brahman perceived in the former, is entirely devoid of covering."
The way of the Universe is a knotty and vexed problem that has defied all human skill for its proper solution. It has not been satisfactorily explained by any of the Acharyas, Rishis and Seers of Truth. Srutis and Smritis are silent on this point. The origin and nature of Maya can only be understood after attaining Brahma Jnana, when the Antahkarana is absolutely pure. Brahma Jnana is an occult mystery, a subject for initiation by a real Guru.
Now, just pause for a moment and think quite seriously your mode of life. You are proud that you are wise, and that you know science, arts, law, medicine, etc. Are you really prudent? Emphatically not. You are helplessly ignorant. In how many diverse wombs have you been placed? You have been swindled wholesale by the fleshy eye and the nervous tongue. You are carried away hopelessly by a little bit of colour, taste and touch.
Now, awake, arise and stop not till the goal of Elysial Bliss, final Beatitude, or the Turiyatita state, or Nirvikalpa absorption in Brahman or Videha Kaivalya is reached. Develop the sixfold virtues (Shat-sampat). Acquire the four qualifications. Remove the three kinds of impurities of the mind, viz., Mala (by Nishkama Karma, Japa, Tapa, Yama, Niyama, etc.), Vikshepa or tossing of mind (by Upasana of conditioned Brahman) and Avarana or layer (by Satsanga, study of Atma Jnana books, Vedantic scriptures, ceaseless Atmic enquiry orVichara). Have faith first in yourself, then in Guru's words and in the Srutis. Lead quite a simple life with sublime thoughts and lofty ideals. Eliminate desire and attachment, the two root causes of Samsara, the two potent factors of bondage. Have constant Satsanga, a rare panacea for the cure of the formidable disease of rebirth.
Just as the coloured water penetrates freely and nicely a piece of cloth when it is pure white, so also the instructions of a sage can penetrate and settle down in the hearts of aspirants only when their minds are calm, when there are no desires for enjoyments and when the impurities of their minds are destroyed. That is the reason why an aspirant is expected to possess the qualifications of Viveka, Vairagya, Sama, Dama and Uparati before he practises hearing of Srutis, reflection and meditation. Discipline and purification of the mind and the Indriyas are the prerequisites of an aspirant in the path of Truth and Self-realisation.
Knowledge is power. A doctor who has knowledge of medicine, of the physical machine and its workings, of therapeutics, and of diagnosis and treatment of diseases is a powerful man. He can influence thousands. A lawyer who has knowledge of law has got influence and power. The Commander-in-chief and Field-marshal who have knowledge of manoeuvres and enveloping movements of the battlefield and of the tactics of war have wonderful influence and power. The whole armies stand electrified before them and are ready to obey their commands. The raising of the policeman's fingers stops all motor cars in the streets of London. Just as heat is inseparable from fire, so also power is inseparable from knowledge. Brahman, the source of Maya is the storehouse for all powers. A Jnani who has knowledge of Brahman has gottremendous powers. He wills through his Satsankalpa an everything comes into being.
Kill out all desires of life (Abhinivesa) in this world Clinging to earth-life is the root cause of birth and death. Destroy the idea or the sense of separateness. Separatenessis death. Unity is eternal life. Separateness is Avidya orignorance. Unity is Jnana.
Unless a man perseveres seriously in the pursuit of Knowledge of the Self and unless a man struggles hard in the spiritual path with intense Vairagya and keen longing for liberation, he will never take recourse to Satsanga or compan of sages and will never lend a willing ear to spiritual instructions, sermons and discourses.
There are no Vedantic Prakriyas (categories) inUpanishads. You will have to study Atma Bodha, Tattva Bodha,Vivekachudamani, Vedanta Sara, Laghu Vasudeva Manana in the beginning. These are all Prakriya Granthas. Then you will be able to understand clearly the teachings of Upanishads. A knowledge of three bodies, five Kosas, four Avasthas, three Gunas, Neti-neti doctrine, Bhaga-tyaga Lakshana, Anvaya-vyatireka, Adhyaropa-apavada, Layachintana of Om, Layachintana of Antahkarana, Layachintana of elements, Rajju-sarpa Nyaya, various Drishtantas, and Vadas like Drishti-srishti Vada, Vivarta Vada is indispensable requisite for proper understanding of Brahman. An elementary knowledge of Indian Logic, Nyaya philosophy is also necessary for proper understandina of Vadanta.
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