The Upanishads form a part of the Vedas and are essentially a set of ancient mystic teachings and imparting of knowledge.
The Upanishads form a part of the Vedas and are essentially a set of ancient mystic teachings and imparting of knowledge. The term Upanishad has been derived from three words: "Upa" (near), Ni (down) and shad (to sit), i.e., sitting down near. During ancient times, pupils used to sit near the teacher in a circle to learn the holy teachings and sacred scriptures. The Upanishad philosophy basically indicates learning from a spiritual teacher. The exact number of classical Upanishads is not known. Scholars differ when it comes to estimating the number of Upanishads that exist. It is estimated that there are around 350 Upanishads that exist today. To know more about Upnishads, continue to read this insightful article on it.
History Of Upnishads
The Upanishads provide us with spiritual knowledge and philosophical reasoning. Upanishads aim at attaining a level of understanding beyond ordinary knowledge about living. They aim at seeking a higher level of understanding about survival. They seek to create awareness about our purpose in life. They dwell on the psychology of the human mind. They speak about consciousness, sub-consciousness and dreams. They go beyond ordinary knowing and aim at a higher level of realization.
The Upanishads also contain information on the divine power of the word "Aum". This word is said to have cosmic vibrations and is said to underlie all forms of existence and trinity principles. For creating sound, one needs to have at least two things that strike against each other. But Aum is one sound that is created without any help or friction. Thus, this is the sound of the Universe, the vibrations that you feel inside when you close your ears. The Upanishads aim at making our lives more meaningful by making us realize the importance of self-realization that goes a long way into shaping the kind of individual we become.
Teachings Of Upnishads
- Aham Brahmasmi: The literal translation of this saying is ‘I am Brahman’. This basically represents the innate connection of an individual with the supreme consciousness. Upanishads teach an individual that the true Vedic knowledge is worshiping the truth inside us. It says that if we worship anything other than the divinity within us then it leads to our spiritual and intellectual destruction. The true divinity does not reside in a book or an idol or some idea of god but it lies within our true self.
- Ayam Atma Brahma: This means that ‘the self is Brahma’. This teaching also connects the soul with the higher consciousness, calling it true and divine. But this particular teaching is explained more objectively. It not only propagates that our innermost self is divine but it also tells us that it is the same divinity in each of us.
- Tat Tvam Asi: Its translation is ‘that thou art’. This teaching spreads the message that whatever we associate with or think about or talk about or pay attention to is us. We become what we relate to. Everything and everyone is related to the greater consciousness and therefore there is o difference between ‘you’ and ‘I’.
- Prajnanam Brahma: ‘Intelligence is Brahman’, this means to say that the true knowledge or the absolute truth liberates us and helps us merging into the supreme consciousness, the ultimate divinity. Our knowledge of the truth helps us in guiding us towards the divine path of the ultimate truth or what we call god in layman’s language.
- Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma: This translates to ‘the universe is Brahma’. This teaching says that the whole universe is divine, it is not just the human beings that are made up of divinity, and it is also the things and each and every element of the world that is the part of divine. It is the ultimate quest and the ultimate destination of the beings of this earth. It does not exist as anything different in all kinds of beings, but it is the same in everyone. It exists in the exact form in living as well as non living things.
- So’ham: Its literal translation is ‘he am I’. This is to prove how innately our self is connected with the divine. ‘So’ is the natural sound of inhalation of breath while ‘ham’ is of exhalation. This is the proof of the divine existing within us. It is said that the divine truth exists in the natural movement of our breath.
Modern response to Upanishads:
There are many languages that the Upanishads have been translated into, which helped in its world wide spread out, like: English, Russian, German, Polish, Dutch, Italian, Persian, French, Latin, Urdu, Japanese, etc. It was during the reign of the famous Mughal Emperor Akbar that the original Upanishads were translated into the Persian language. Later his grandson, Dara Shikoh, ordered its further translation, which resulted in the production of the book called ‘Sirr-e-Akbar’ in the year of 1657. But it was not until its translation in 1775 by a French Orientalist called Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron that it gained worldwide attention.