Institute of Scientific Astrology

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THE ORIGIN OF UPANISHADS                              

As discussed in the previous chapter since the vedic hymns were mystically coded, in esoterical terms - perhaps  to avoid falling into undeserving hands,(incidentally Vedas are called “Thiru Marai” – the divine secret – in Tamil-) many people were unable to comprehend the inner meanings and took the superficial meanings and hence the rituals ruled the then days.

The Vedas – in it’s verses form- as mentioned earlier were carried from generation to generation through oral rendition only. To ensure that no mistake occurs on the words they had established several types of rendition – the words in the same sequential order as in samhitha; then words arranged in the sequence of odd words and even words; words arranged in 1-4-7-10 etc., then as 1-5-9-14 etc., then in many other combinations so that even if any error occurs over a period of time any scholar of the relevant time can spot the error and rectify it. So they ensured that the words were kept intact and even after several thousand years the words remained unmuted.

But unfortunately no where they have left a dictionary or the explanatory details and therefore the inner meanings were forgotten and the outer meanings were taken at face value.

For the real and ardent seekers of that time (remember this is thousands of years after the vedas were revealed), the ritualistic interpretation  were not sufficiently answering their spiritual quest and seeking . So once again they tried to understand the esoteric and mystical meanings and significance of vedas.

In fact these seekers were also seeking answers for the same questions with the vedic rishis had raised.Though vedas contained every bit of the answer it had to be uncovered once again because of the ritualistic dust spread over it. Therefore when they delved deep into the Vedas they were stunned to find exact, rational and scientific answers for all their questions. They were thrilled and they thought it is better to compile the philosophy portion as a stand alone knowledge so that the future generations will not face the problem they faced. Therefore they composed the essence of Vedas-the  philosophies of Vedas- which are called upanishads.

The upanishads deal only with the  spiritual philosophy contained in the Vedas and the underlying significances and are worded in a  reasonably straight forward language though some amount of mysticism could not be ruled out.

Compilation of upanishads

Each seeker had his own query and  found answer for his quest and elaborated on it. There are mainly about 108 upanishads out of which 11 are of paramount importance-    Isavasya, Taittriya, Aithreya, Brihadaranyaka, Katha, Kena, Chandokya, Mundaka, Mandukya, Svetasvatara.

Again it was Vyasa who assembled these upanishads and categorised and preserved them for posterity.

It will be interesting to note while vedas are god's creation revealation to sages and were not man made ‘apaurusheya’ ( ie.,no authorship) ;Upanishands are intellectual treatise by Realised rishis and has an authorship. While upanishads were the essence of the philosophy enunciated in Vedas, Bhaghawat gita composed by Vyasa is the essence of Upanishads.

Vedas Vs Upanishads

There is a wrong impression that Upanishads are the relevant texts and Vedas are superfluous. This is completely wrong and has been propounded by people who were not able to decipher the Vedas of it’s true import. No way we are undermining the great importance of Upanishads and we openly declare that they have very succinctly and beautifully explained the philosophy contained in the Vedas. And that is why they are called the “vedanta” the climax of the great Vedas. It is the essence of Vedas no doubt; but to overlook Vedas will be missing the source code.

Schools of thought in the Vedanta

The upanishads were then interpreted and various schools of thoughts emerged on to the nuances of the god head,his powers; his immanence, transcendence;,human intellect,mind,consciousness etc.,each propounded their school with their own do’s and don’ts but none could go beyond the wisdom of Vedas- Till today it remains the ultimate wisdom.

It must be noted here that vedas are not belonging to any religion or caste because at that time neither of these maladies were there.The principles of vedas are universal and it is pan region and pan religion.

In our research we have found that all religions have extensively used and incorporated the vedic ideas and ideals in their respective religion though some of them have not formally acknowledged it.

Elaboration of the upanishads let to quest of knowledge of the absolute – the god head-which led to the birth of ‘Brahma sutras’. Again it is very mystically and elastically worded as to the exact nature of the absolute and its relation and equation with human beings. The interpretation of these sutras led to three theories as to the relation of the absolute (paramatma) with the individual (jivatma)–Advaitha propounded by Sankara; Dwaitha propounded by  Madhva;, and Vishishtadwaida proponded by Ramanuja.

In simple terms Advaitha says that god resides in human souls as a non participating but powering person as a reflection and on liberation the reflection ceases. Therefore they are not two but one only (something similar to the space in the pot which when broken merges with the universal space seamlessly)

Dwaitha says that god resides in humans as an image and hence while god is supreme, Jivas are distinct from God. On liberartion the Jivas  go and reside in Vaikunta the abode of the God.

The Visistadwaida says god has involved in to the matter and evolves as jiva though with much less capacity and power  because as paramatma he is not subject to any limits of time and space whereas as jivatma it is limited by time,space and causality. And on liberation the jivatma merges with the eternal god, to be a part of the total cosmic power.  The relationship between the paramatma and jivatma is that of cause and effect.

As it could be noted that but for the technical nuances, all of them agree that god is immanent in beings and also transcendent beyond them and therefore man can ascend.

The essence of Upanishads :

Brahman Vs Atman

Two concepts are of paramount importance in Upanishads-“Brahman & Atman”.The Brahman is the ultimate reality and Atman is the individual self.

Brahman is the material,efficient,formal and final cause of all that exists.

It is the infinite, all pervasive, genderless,  eternal truth and bliss which is formless,changeless but  is the cause of all forms and changes.

Brahman is the infinitefabric,destiny,core,and source of all existence; whether manifested or unmanifested. It is the formless infinite substratum from which the universe has sprung up  and  grown.

Atman is the immortal spirit in every being  including the humans,animals,insects plants etc., as their immortal spirit, their soul and their inner self.

The core of every person is not the body, mind or ego, but the Atman-the god’s spark . It is the spiritual existence in all creatures as it’s innermost existential being.

The greatest contribution of Vedas and Upanishads to the human thought is that Atman and Brahman are one and the sam

Nithya Vs Maya

The other important wisdom of Upanishads is “Reality and Maya”.The Brahman-Atman non dual reality is both universal and empirical.When it is universal it is called- Brahman- ‘Nithya’ and when it is empirical it is called- Atman- ‘Maya’

The universe and the human experience is an interplay of the ‘Purusha’ - the eternal,unchanging principles, consciousness- and the ‘Prakrti’-the temporal, changing material world , nature.

The purusha manifests as Atman and Prakrti as Maya.

Here the word Maya does not mean - unreal or imaginary or illusion. It only means that it is just not “what it seems to be” because there are much deeper underlying truths which on first sight may not catch our attention. Therefore it  means if we don’t realize this truth then it will restrict our knowledge of  knowing  the actual and full reality of the nature- ‘Prakrti’.

Therefore lack of this knowledge is called  ‘Avidya’-ignorance leading to greed,lust and ego; and understanding the  complete truth of ‘Purusha’ and ‘Prakrti” and it’s interplay is called ‘Vidya’-knowledge.

To sum up

Therefore god is synonymous with self and is every where, and is in each and every human being and in each and every living creature.

Therefore every being is entitled to be happy and particularly the humans can remain eternally blissful if he realizes these simple facts and act upon them.

What Vedas have said as ‘ekam sat’-“the only reality” becomes more pointedly in Upanishads as ‘ekam eva advitiyam’-“the one and only , sans second”.

Therefore the  Brahman-Atman self realization is the route to the “eternal bliss-the liberation from pains- the moksha from sufferings”.