ISAVASYOPANISHAD

THE Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis of the highest spiritual effort of the individual with the most practical social co-operation. We should carry on the activities of life, but we should do so remembering that all that we do belongs to God. Work done in this spirit will not cling to us in re-birth.

This teaching that is expanded in the Bhagavad Gita is found tersely enunciated in the Isavasyopanishad in the first two verses.  Everything in the universe abides in the Supreme Being. Realize this well, and, realizing it, cast off the desires that rise in the heart, for example, the thought of possessing what is enjoyed by another. Joy comes only by the giving up of desires and attachments.

2.

You may live the longest life, doing work in a detached spirit and dedicating everything to God. Thus only can we escape the contamination of work and sterilize life.

The Vedantic, teaching about higher know ledge should not confuse us into neglect of duties and indifference about discipline of mind and control of senses. To go through the activities of daily life in a spirit of detachment serves as a preparation for the reception of higher knowledge and for self-realization which secures Moksha. Indeed, philosophical learning without discipline of con duct is more to be dreaded than even ritualism without the knowledge of Vedanta.

3.

Higher enlightenment is impossible, and even if it was possible, worthless, unless there has been preparation and purification by means of restraint of the senses. Fill the span of life given to you, says the Upanishad, with work and worship as is done by people without the higher knowledge but carry on the work in the spirit of detachment and under stand the forms in the sense that you have learnt from the higher knowledge.

Hereby you shall pass through Death to Immortality.  The Santi sloka of this Upanishad tersely sets out the relation of the Individual Soul to the Supreme Spirit. The Self that functions within us is of divine origin. It is of the same substance as the Supreme Spirit.

4.

The part that makes up the individual comes out of the whole, and the stuff of which it is made is of such a transcendental nature that the whole remains whole, in spite of something being taken out of the whole. Again, though what is taken out is but a part, it is as whole as the original. The axioms of mathematics relating to the whole and the part do not apply to the Absolute and its manifestations.

That is whole and this is whole. The perfect has come out of the perfect. Yet the perfect remains, as before, perfect.  As the Soul is the life of the body which with out it would be a carcase, so is the Supreme Spirit the essence of the individual Soul’s being.

5.

And yet, even as the Soul is ‘lost’ in the body, the Supreme Spirit, functioning as the Soul of the Individual Soul, loses * cognizance of its own real Divine nature. It is the Supreme Spirit that moves, though in, reality there is no motion, it being the one Reality. There can be no motion when there is nought else.

It is far away, because we fail to realize it. It is near, because it is immanent in every thing and is in the recess of ones own heart.  It moves. It does not move. It is far away, yet most near. It is the internal Spirit of every thing that we know.   If we realize this all-pervading immanence of the Supreme Spirit, the distinction between oneself and others melts away and with it disappear, as a matter of course, grief and illusion.

6.

The 29th and following verses in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita are almost in the same words as the following slokas from Isavasyopanishad:

If one sees all living things as if they were in his own body, i.e., feels their joys and sorrows as his own, and sees the same Universal Spirit in all things then there is no need for protecting one self against others.

When a man understands that all beings is, indeed, the all-pervading. Spirit, then he realizes the oneness of all things and illusion and grief vanish.

7.

The Isavasyopanishad emphasises the need for balance. In verses which are unfortunately obscure (9, 11, 12, and 14), the importance of both know ledge and discipline, and of attention to matter as well as to spirit is dealt with.

The Upanishad winds up with a prayer for strength to maintain internal and external purity.

Addressing the morning sun, the aspirant is taught to feel and say, "O Sun, of refulgent glory, I am the same person as He that is in you." And he is asked to say to himself: "My body will disintegrate but not I and my deeds. O Mind, remember this always, remember this always."

8.

Oh Sun, who art our Nourisher, Giver of Knowledge, Dispenser of Justice, Giver of light, Son of the Creator, disperse thy rays, draw in thy light, so that I may be enabled to behold thy most beautiful form. I am that same Person as makes thee who thou art.

16

As for my body:

My body will be reduced to ashes and my breath will join the deathless moving Winds. Oh Mind, remember thy acts.

17

The formula-I am the person that is seen m that refulgent form-occurs slightly modified in Chhandogya Upanishad also. The insistence is on the realization of the all-inclusive Oneness of the Soul, the Universe. The Spirit in the Sun is the same as myself! A daily repetition and contemplation of this truth is prescribed as an aid in life to detachment, elevation of Spirit and Self-realization.

4. Vidya and Avidya are phrases presenting considerable difficulty and the context does not help to clarity doubts. But I venture to think that the purport of the two slokas is what I have given above.