“The whole (Self) is all that is invisible. The whole is all that is visible. The whole was born out of the whole. When the whole is absorbed into the whole; the whole alone remains.
Om: Peace- Peace- Peace.” ----- Isha Upanishad
“That which makes the mind think, but needs no mind to think, that alone is Self (Spirit).” ------ Kena Upanishad
In Upanishad, ‘Upa’ means ‘near’, ‘ni’ means ‘down’ and ‘sad’ means ‘to sit’. So Upanishad means “sitting at the feet or in the presence of a teacher”; another meaning is “to shatter” or “to destroy” the fetters of ignorance.
Summary of the Philosophy;
Their teachings are summed up in two Maha-Vakyam or “great sayings”:--
Tat twam asi (That thou art) and
Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman).
This oneness of Soul (Self) and God(Self) lies at the very root of all Vedic thought.
One Hundred and Eight Upanishads have survived and of these ten are considered Principal Upanishads for which Sri (Adi) Sankara wrote commentaries. They are Isha, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitaraya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka.
Upanishads are known as the Vedanta, that is, the end or final goal of wisdom (Veda, wisdom; anta, end).
The mantras of Upanishads are for the purpose of enlightening the individuals on the true nature of Self (Atman), which in its purity is untouched by sin, oneness, being eternal, having no body, omnipresence. These mantras not connected with work (karma) and so it is not to be used in rituals.
“In the Upanishads we find criticism of ritualistic religion. Sacrifices are relegated to inferior position. They do not lead to final liberation.”
“When all things are God’s (Self), there is no point in offering him anything, except one’s will, one’s self.” ----- (Dr. S.R)
“In every ‘homa’ ritual, the expression ‘svaha’ is used which implies renunciation of the ego, ‘svatvahanana’. “ ----- (Dr. S.R)
“At whose behest does the mind think? Who bids the body live? Who makes the tongue speak? Who is the effulgent Being that directs the eye to form and color and the ear to sound?” ------- (Kena)
“The Self is the ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of the speech. He is also breath of the breath and eye of the eye. Having given up the false identification of the Self with the senses and the mind: and knowing the Self to be Brahman: the wise, on departing this world become immortal.” --- (Kena)
Maya (Illusion \ Ignorance):
o “The actual fabric of the world with its loves and hates, with its wars and battles, with its jealousies and competitions as well as its unasked helpfulness, sustained intellectual effort, intense moral struggle is a phantasmagoria dancing on the fabric of pure being.” ----- (Dr. S.R)
o “Through Māyā, Its inscrutable Power, time, space, and causality are created and the One appears to break into the many. The eternal Spirit appears as a manifold of individuals endowed with form and subject to the conditions of time. The Immortal becomes a victim of birth and death. The Changeless undergoes change. The sinless Pure Soul, hypnotised by Its own Māyā, experiences the joys of heaven and the pains of hell. But these experiences based on the duality of the subject-object relationship are unreal.” ------- (Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)
o “The illusion of the world is of the first kind: the world is not simply a hallucination or a chimera, nor is it an absurd non-entity. Maya, and thus the world, is not real but it is existent. It is certainly not non-existent.”
o ‘Maya’ makes possible the 'impossible'—the appearance of the infinite and unconditioned as if finite and contingent.
o Analogy - Maya in the same way as a rope, when not recognized as such due to dim light, appears as a snake.
The Self (Brahman\Spirit):
o (i) The absolute (self), (ii) the self as creative power and (iii) the self as immanent in the world. These are not separate entities.
o This Self is never born, nor does It die. It did not spring from anything, nor did anything spring from It. This Ancient One is unborn, eternal and everlasting. It is not slain even though the body is slain. (Katha – XVIII).
o The Self is subtler than the subtle, greater than the great; It dwells in the heart of each living being. He who is free from desire and free from grief, with mind and senses tranquil, beholds the glory of the Atman. (Katha- XX)
o Though sitting, It travels far; though lying, It goes everywhere. Who else save me is fit to know that God, who is (both) joyful and joyless? (Katha XXI)
o “It moves; it is motionless. It is distant; it is near. It is within all; it is without all these" ------ Isha
o “He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman.” ---Mundaka (3.2.9)
o He who is the Self in the man and the Self in the Sun are one. ----(Taittiriya)
o He, from whom all beings are born, in whom they live being born and to whom at death they return – seek to know him. He is Brahman. ---(Taittiriya).
o Self who is pure consciousness is Brahman. ------ (Aitareya)
o “He through whom we see, taste, smell, feel, hear, enjoy, knows everything. He is that Self.” ------ (Katha)
Once upon a time, Self (Spirit) planned that the gods might win a great victory. The gods grew boastful; though Self had planned their victory, they thought they had done it all.
Self saw their vanity and appeared. They could not understand; they said: 'Who is that mysterious Person?'
They said to Fire: 'Fire! Find out who is that mysterious Person.'
Fire ran to Self. Self asked what it was. Fire said: 'I am Fire; known to all.'
Self asked: 'What can you do?' Fire said: T can burn anything and everything in this world.'
'Burn it,' said Self, putting a straw on the ground. Fire threw itself upon the straw, but could not burn it. Then Fire ran to the gods in a hurry and confessed it could not find out who was that mysterious Person.
Then the gods asked Wind to find out who was that mysterious Person.
Wind ran to Self and Self asked what it was. Wind said: 'I am Wind j I am the King of the Air,'
Self asked: 'What can you do?' and Wind said: 'I can blow away anything and everything in this world.'
'Blow it away,' said Self, putting a straw on the ground. Wind threw itself upon the straw, but could not move it. Then Wind ran to the gods in a hurry and confessed it could not find out who was that mysterious Person.
Then the gods went to Light and asked it to find out who was that mysterious Person. Light ran towards Self, but Self disappeared upon the instant.
There appeared in the sky that pretty girl, the Goddess of Wisdom, snowy Himalaya's daughter (Uma Devi). Light went to her and asked who that mysterious Person was.
The Goddess said: 'Self, through Self you attained your greatness. Praise the greatness of Self.' Then Light knew that the mysterious Person was none but Self.
That is how these gods—Fire, Wind and Light— attained supremacy; they came nearest to Self and were the first to call that Person Self.
------ Kena Upanishad
Nirupam anithya niramaskhepya khande Mayi chithi sarva vikalpanadhi soonye,
Ghatayathi Jagadheesa jeeva bhedham
Thwagathitha ghatanaa patiyasi maya.
Maya (The illusion) which is adept in making the impossible to happen superimposes on me who am in reality pure consciousness who am incomparable, who am eternal, partless, unlimited by space, time and other objects, in whom there is no differentiation whatsoever, the distinctions in the form of the world, God and the individual soul.
---- Sri Adi Sankara