The Ishavasya Upanishad is a small text of eighteen verses that comprises the last chapter of the Yajur Veda. Consider to be the seed of the entire Indian Philosophy, it is one of the most profound literary works to date.
Swami Niranjanananda's commentary on this Upanishad makes the depth of its wisdom accessible to all. The clarity of thought and language allows the highest thinking and understanding f the sages and seers of the vedic time to become comprehensible. The commentary is not only a guide; it also indicates how the teachings the teachings of the Upanishad are relevant to the spiritual aspirant of the twenty-first century. Life, action, knowledge and the process of meditation are explained in a light that inspire the reader to connect and explore. Swami Niranjananda’s lucid approach is boon to all who wish to have direction and purpose in their life and spiritual practice.
Swami Niranjanananda was born in Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh) in
1960. Guided from birth by his guru, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, he
came at the age of four to live with him at the Bihar School of Yoga
in Munger where he received training in yogic and spiritual sciences
through yoga nidra. In 1971 he was initiated into Dashnami sannyasa,
and thereafter for eleven years he lived overseas, mastering skills in
varied areas, acquiring an understanding of different cultures and
helping establish Satyananda Yoga ashrams and centres in Europe,
Australia, North and South America.
At the behest of his guru, he returned to India in 1983 to guide
the activities of Bihar School of Yoga, Sivananda Math and the Yoga
Research Foundation at Ganga Darshan. In 1990 he was initiated as
a paramahamsa sannyasin and in 1995 anointed spiritual preceptor in
succession to Swami Satyananda Saraswati. He established Bihar Yoga
Bharati, the first university of yoga, in 1994 and the Yoga Publications
Trust in 2000 in Munger. He also initiated a children's yoga movement,
Bal Yoga Mitra Mandai, in 1995. In addition to steering the activities
at Munger, he travelled extensively to guide seekers around the world
till 2009, when he received the command to embark on a new phase
of sannyasa life.
Author of many classic books on yoga, tantra and the Upanishads,
Swami Niranjan is a magnetic source of wisdom on all aspects of yogic
philosophy, practice and lifestyle. He ably combines tradition with
modernity as he continues to nurture and spread his guru's mission
from his base at Munger.
The Upanishads were the culmination of the entire body
of vedic literature and contain their philosophical essence.
Here the ritualism of the Vedas gives way to a ceaeless
search for the truth. The Upanishads do not require the
performance of any action as such, but reveal the ultimate
truth, which liberates the seeker at once. These text are
the culmination of the quest for reality. The transition
of the Indian mind from the ritualistic detail of the
Brahmanas to the sublime doctrine of the Upanishads
is a dramatic and a remarkable event in the Sanatana
The earliest Veda, the Rig Veda describes an external creator which is distint from one's self, a
controller of mundane events, to whom one prays for
worldly benefits. peaking of the Purusha, the Ultimate
Person, it says, "Purusha has a thousand heads ...
thousand eyes . . . He formed those aerial creatures
and animals, both wild and tame." In the Upanishads,
however, the viewpoint is entirely changed and the centre
of interest is not a creature from outside, but within the
self. This change of position does not carry with it any
elaborate philosophical discussions or subtle analysis of
the mind. It comes as a matter of direct perception, and
the conviction with which the truth is grasped impresses
The word 'upanishad' is comprised of three words: upa +
ni + shad. Upa means 'near', ni 'attentively' and shad 'to sit'.
Thus, the term Upanishad actually describes the situation in
which these unique texts were transmitted. The student or
disciple sat near the realized master and listened attentively
as he expounded his experiences and understanding of the
ultimate reality. Some scholars call the Upanishads 'secret
doctrine'; others call them 'book of knowledge'. Practically,
it means notes taken down by disciples in ancient days,
when the guru gave lessons on the supreme knowledge.
The lesson were recorded in the minds of the disciples and
written down later on for posterity.
Since the instructions of a guru were first heard and
remembered by the disciples and noted down later, the
Upanishads are also known as shruti, 'that knowledge which
is heard'. This teaching was said to destroy the ignorance
or illusion of the spiritual aspirant regarding what is self
and non- elf, or real and unreal, in relation to the absolute
and relative reality. Adi Shankara, in his introduction to the
Taittiriyopanishad, says: "Knowledge of Brahman is called
Upanishad, as it loosens the bonds of birth and death and
destroys them altogether, and as it leads the seeker very near
to Brahman wherein the highest God is seated."
During the period when the upanishadic texts were
propounded, this knowledge of the ultimate reality was
considered sacred and was not easily accessible to all. It
was imparted on a very selective basis after the mental and
spiritual calibre of the seeker had been tested and proven.
Each Upanishad reflected the teachings and tradition of a
realized master and was connected with a specific Veda and
vedic school, or shaka. At one time the vedic schools and
their respective Upanishads numbered 1,180, but today only
108 are generally known, although about 200 are still extant.
These texts contain the direct teachings of great scholars,
sages and saints of their time and reflect the heights of their
spiritual insight and understanding.
There are ten principal Upanishads, thirty minor one,
and in all 108 popular Upanishads. Some of them are
quite old and can be traced back many centuries before
the birth of Christ. They are written in a language which
was spoken in India during the vedic period. The Sanskrit
of the Upanishads is different from the Sanskrit language
of today. The rules of grammar are also different. Usually,
a present-day student of Sanskrit finds it difficult to read
the Upanishads independently. The language used in the
Upanishads is known as old or vedic Sanskrit.
Search for knowledge
The seers of the Upanishads and their social and historical
background are subjects of great interest. In India, the
brahmins safeguarded the religious and theological
knowledge of the country. Whatever they preached, sincerely
or in insincerely, pertained to this lower world, such a rituals
and ceremonies for birth, marriage, funerals, and so on.
Rituals such as propitiating gods or worshipping nature
were taught to the people. The study of the history of the
vedic period reveals that there was a time when the masses
were very interested in rituals and practiced karma kanda, or
ritualistic religion. In big yajnas, fire ceremonies, thousands
of people would get together to take somarasa, the spiritual
drink, and to perform fire worship. In order to conduct the
worship, many thousand quintals of food grains would be
offered as oblation to the fire.
The vedic people had their own definition, description
and dictionary of knowledge about God. It was nevertheless
a good thing for householders. Although there were few
people in society at that time, still they often questioned: "Is
what the priests preach about God and the temples all true?"
Since people had their own liabilities and responsibilities to
their families, they could not find the time to search for a
true answer to their enquiries. Some of them then decided
to renounce their responsibilities and retire into the forest
In seclusion for contemplation and meditation, to find out the truth:"I there a God sitting somewhere?""Or Are there many gods responsible for different departments of the world?""Are they like angels or Ghosts?’ Does god come or send somebody as His representative?" Religious beliefs were questioned and people wanted to know the truth. Therefore, after fulfilling the obligations of family life, they retired into seclusion, either with their spouse or alone.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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