Selections from the Upanishads

He knew that Brahman is bliss. For truly, beings here are born from bliss. When born, they live by bliss. And into bliss when departing, they enter.

-- Taittiriya Upanishad 3.6.1

The face of truth is covered with a golden disc. Unveil it, O Pushan, so that I, who love the truth, may see it.
O Pushan, the sole seer, O Controller, O Sun, off-spring of Prajapati, spread forth your rays & gather up your radiant light that I may behold you of loveliest form. Whosoever is that person (yonder) that also am I.

-- Isha Upanishad 15-16

I have overcome the whole world. I am brilliant like the Sun.
He who knows this, knows the secret wisdom.

-- Taittiriya Upanishad 3.10.5

Friday, May 16, 2008


Driving down one of the busiest streets in Delhi, I noticed on the branches of trees that flanked the road, the arrival of spring.

Brilliant green shoots - trembling little droplets of green light - had begun to make their first bashful but joyous appearance on the boughs - glistening an almost blinding phosphorescent in the rays of an early spring Sun.

When I pointed out to my friend the sheer beauty & luminosity of the burgeoning life blossoming at the fringes of the bare branches, he merely nodded, and continued to drive, concentrating on the jangling traffic ahead.

It pained me to see that this magnificent offering of Nature - so powerful & yet so delicate, so joyous & yet so muted, so fervent & yet so reticent - had no taker, no grateful spectator - evoked no loving response from the millions of hearts that sped by everyday.

And that made me think: weren't those trees, in a sense, lonely? Weren't they, as it were, waiting for the touch of a beloved who had expired, never to return, never to pay the tribute of his love?

Waiting for a touch of comprehension? Of love?

Like a beautiful woman unnoticed & unseen by legions of blind men who pass by her without ever being aware of her existence, her beauty, of the longing in her heart?

And further, thought I, how is it that these men - empowered with science & technology - so energetic in their pursuit of some abstract notion they call "life" - how is it that they do not find it in their hearts, and in their souls, to even notice this glowing statement of the universe - this "Here I am" - beyond the narrow, stifling confines of their lives?

This indifference, & disparagement, is symptomatic of the blindness of Man & the self-interment of his essential Self in today's age. It is an indication of a certain spiritual disease that has infected human society the world over.

Indeed, as in our life, our consciousness has got restricted to closed, claustrophobic spaces: the constricted spaces of our cars, our pigeon-hole city apartments, & most of all, by our office cubicles...

These symbols of modern civilization in which our lives are moulded, have shaped & narrowed down our spiritual vision too.

The universe - the vast, limitless Being beyond - is no more than a vague, impersonal abstraction.

And what is worse, this sense of the unreality of the world begins just outside our doorstep.

A man's universe today is limited to his cubicle.

The breadth of his consciousness, his sense of Self, is no larger or wider.

Everything beyond is an abstraction to be analyzed & be made use of - a quarry to be mined - an object to be used & discarded.

What of that sublime spiritual vision in which every entity, every leaf of grass, every sunbeam of the universe vibrated with life, and had a deep meaning for Man's innermost soul - so profoundly articulated in our scriptures?

What about that sacred sense of life in which Man beheld in every apparently small & insignificant detail of a living, breathing Universe, a call of Love, a call of Union with the One & the All?

What about the that highest extension of consciousness in which every half-open bud, every speckle of foam on the crest of a frolicking wave of the sea - conveyed a message of Love from the Beyond - from the Unobtrusive, Silent Creator of countless worlds?

The loss of this holiest of all perspectives has robbed us of our capacity to see the Life & Breath beyond the cubicle of our narrow self as something vital - connected to us in a deep, ineffable way - fundamental to our being - personal.

Something to be seen, touched, loved, & nurtured.

The loss of our capacity to connect to the whole wide world beyond our stifling cubicles has rendered our lives lonely & desolate - and above all, has strangled the Lover in our souls.

The Lover who connects & heals - who lives in infinite sympathy & joyous relatedness with the whole of mankind - who sees in men not just distant obstacles & opportunities, but living reflections of himself.

The Lover who sees the soul in the heart of creation - the Person in every man - the Humanity of humanity.

For the capacity to reach out to Nature springs from the same source, the same element in us, which enables us to reach out to other human beings, to mankind, to the whole Universe - to the whole of Infinity; indeed, to God.

And it is from this element that comes our love for the Right, the Just, the Beautiful, & the Vast.

This element, this fountainhead of all Life in the world, is called the Self - Brahman - by our greatest sages-seers.

Our society today is essentially a society of constricted consciousness.

We can see the results of this constriction all around us.

We do not even think of another man's suffering until it affects an iota of our smug, indifferent, narcissistic contentment.

We live in a seemingly endless darkness of oblivion, of blind indifference, of tortured frustration, asphyxiating our own capacity to Love, & to Give.

We rave & rant about a "dog-eat-dog world", about life being a rat-race: & try as hard as possible to become so many dogs & rats.

Justice, Freedom, Joy & Harmony are made possible only through an extension of consciousness - in the reaching out of our hearts to the heart of the universe - in the embarking by our Soul on a journey to the Soul residing deep in the innermost niche of every particle of Creation.

Let us come out of the cubicle, the box, the throttling Definition that we mould ourselves in.

An infinity, an eternity of Joy & Love & Life is waiting for us - to be emancipated, to be known, to be realized - through ever-increasing Love & Sympathy - not only out there, in the limitless tracts of space beyond our petty-little egocentric selves - but here, deep in the cave within our own hearts.

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