Introduction - The Ishavasyopanishada is the fourth chapter of the Kanva Shakha Samhita of the Yajurveda. It is of special significance as it is a part of the incantation section. The scholars have ascribed Ishavasyopanishada as the first Upanishad. The thirty-ninth chapter of this Shukla Yajurveda speaks of rituals and the fortieth chapter the glory of the divine cosmic soul or the knowledge of the supreme self is deliberated. This is also referred to as the Jnana Kanda. In this Upanishad the first incantation 'Ishaavasyam' this word is discerned, that is why the name of this Upanishad is Ishavasyopanishada.
PURNAMADAHA PURNAMIDAM PURNAATA PURNA ACHYUTE |
PURNASYA PURNAMAADAYA PURNA MEVAVASHISHYATEE |
AUM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI
Before starting the
book, for variety the Mahashi Shanti Patha is recited as Mangalacharan (the
auspicious inception) to sing the glory of the supreme God saying that
Parabrahma (supreme divine cosmic soul) is embellished with all the qualities
tangible and intangible. It is through this supreme cosmic soul that this
universe is evolved. Because this universe has evolved from the one complete and
total, the universe also is devoid of beginning and is infinite. This total or
complete is so significant that even if one literally decides to deduct or
remove the cosmos and universe from that 'complete or total energy', it shall
remain constant i.e. total. There shall be no difference in it from the
evolution process of new. Even if this universe remains or does not remain, the
divine cosmic energy is devoid of beginning and is infinite.
The Vedas are the holy commandments of the Gods for the entire mankind. The entire universe or cosmos is pervaded by that Supreme Cosmic Energy. That is why you should always remember the Supreme Energy and should renounce all attachments and desires and only engage in selflessly fulfilling all the duties. One can enjoy worldly pleasures only in the process of fulfilling one's duties. Do not unnecessarily indulge in material, ephemeral pleasures. These material objects of pleasure belong to no one other than the supreme energy. Partake these pleasures as a blessing (prasad) one has got from the supreme God.
He who performs all his duties according to the scriptures and their directives is indirectly worshipping God in reality. Those who work selflessly are not caught in the bondage of actions or Karma. There is no other way one can escape the chains of Karma.
He who has the banal influences of ego and attachment, performs all his duties with one and only intention of enjoying worldly objects and gets trapped in the vicious cycle of life and death and has to bear the good and bad benefits tirelessly. Moreover he has to transverse many an inferior and mean births and bear a lot of suffering and misery. That is why the human being should attain the real truth and pave its own way towards well being of the self.
He who is all pervasive, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, unchanging is one and only one for all. Even the gods and the sages have not realized him in reality. The energy the gods possess is just one fragment of the divine cosmic energy. They cannot do anything without the divine inspiration and intervention.
Divine love is the greatest feature of divine energy. He is the mine of all the contradictory features and natures. Even if he is devoid of birth, he takes birth, even being formless, assumes form and even being devoid of characteristics assumes a nature. Wherever and whenever a devotee invokes him or calls for help he is always present. He is very far from us and is very close to us, surprisingly. The entire world is embellished with this cosmic energy inside out.
The knowledgeable person who sees God in all the creatures and sees all the creatures in God becomes happy and experiences incessantly the beauty of God. If we realize God we are liberated from all the miseries and attachments that continually plague us.
He who is always absorbed in the divine cosmic energy attains the blissful state. He gradually loses the 'self' and merges into the Divine Cosmic energy.
REALIZATION OF GOD AND ITS BENEFITS
The great soul who continually experiences the beauty of divinity is freed from the body made up of five elements which accrues from auspicious and inauspicious actions. The person is liberated from the vicious cycle of birth and death. Such a person resides permanently in the Divine God.
THE CHARACTERISTIC OF IGNORANCE
The instrument which is availed, to realize the divine soul i.e. knowledge is known as Vidya or divine knowledge. The means used to realize heaven i.e. Karma is known as Avidya or 'False knowledge'. The person who realizes both i.e. knowledge and action is the person who becomes successful in realizing the divinity and attains all the attainments.
Those who indulge in sensual pleasures and worldly pleasures fall into the darkness of ignorance because of their actions, take birth in all forms and eventually destroy the virtues of the human body.
A person who is self conceited and is narcicist is a person who shirks all responsibilities and duties and is totally controlled by sensual impulses. Such people who consider themselves knowledgeable suffer more than those who engage in actions which stems out of desires. They have to unfortunately take birth in inferior forms where they suffer immensely.
THE FRUITS OF SELFLESS ACTIONS
The best benefit or fruit of knowledge is the total absorption of a person in the Divine Cosmic Energy. A self-conceited person unfortunately has to undergo unimaginable suffering. Similarly if we perform all our duties without vanity, attachment and desire then the fruits one begets are undoubtedly sublime and divine. If one does it with a desire then one has to take rebirth and falls in the vicious cycle of birth and death.
THE PRINCIPLE OF KNOWLEDGE AND ACTION
Those humans who understand in totality and perspicuity the principles of actions and knowledge tread on the path of duty selflessly which is according to the scriptures and adheres to the Varnashramas (four stages to be realized by a human) method.
As a result one is blessed with a good and peaceful life and attains a state of balance and equipoise. The mind of such a person becomes pure and purulent and can very easily cross the ocean of material life with the blessings of the Supreme God. Such a person eventually becomes detached from all the worldly objects, realizes the self and merges into divinity.
THE RESULT OF ACTION THAT STEMS FROM DESIRE
He who confides in the idea that all the worldly objects i.e. women, children, wealth, authority, fame are true and unchanging and moreover indulges in them blatantly, who prays to the deceased ancestors, other gods and other people just to beget material pleasures have to take birth in inferior births which are in no way fruitful and beneficial to the self.
The person who does not understand human life, the greatness of the God and on the contrary engages in social work and worship other gods, feels that he is equal to God and thus engages in evil deeds and actions. Such people as a result are bonded to miseries and sufferings all throughout.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SELFLESS AND SELFISH ACTIONS
A person can quite easily attain divinity and bliss singing the praises of the Lord, listening to the divine plays of the Lord and incessantly being absorbed in him with faith, devotion and pristine love.
If one prays to the deceased ancestors according to the scriptures by adhering to God's commands and with the idea of selflessly performing one's duties then it results in purification of the mind. As a result even God becomes happy and blesses him so that he can transcend the material world.
DIVINE BENEFITS OF DETACHMENT AND JUDGEMENT
A person's life can be peaceful and full of happiness only when he realizes that, God is devoid of natural qualities, is embellished with divine characteristics and merits to do welfare of all, all that which is ephemeral, material, changing and transitory is the root cause of suffering, all the inertia in this universe is of God's and no one else's and he who realizes that no one should pray and worship God so that he takes care of the cycle of life properly.
As a result all our shortcomings, weaknesses and flaws that over shadow one's personality are eliminated and our mind becomes peaceful, pure and calm.
METHOD OF PRAYING/WORSHIPPING GOD
The devotees pray to God in the following manner- " O God! You are the nourisher of this entire universe. It is you who nurtures this universe. Your devotion itself is truth and I am engaged in it. So please fulfill all my desires. Your divine face is radiant like the Sun. I want to experience your beauty directly. For the same, please remove all the obstacles and hurdles that prevent me. May I experience your divine energy and bliss."
"You are the one who nurtures the devotion of all the devotees, you are the embodiment of knowledge and you bestow all your devotees with knowledge. You are the one who regulates the entire universe and are the ultimate aim of all scholars and sages. You are unintelligible and unfathomable but because you love your devotees, you can be won over by eternal love. I realize that you are the soul of this entire cosmos, this is itself my soul that is why I am a fragment of you."
IMPATIENCE OF A DEVOTEE TO SERVE THY LORD
When a devotee becomes impatient to renounce the world, falls on the feet of the Lord and serves him, his feelings are conveyed in the following manner- "O Lord! May my life merge into the air, may my body be incinerated. O Vishnu! Remember me when I am on the verge of death because if you remember me and me and my actions I shall not end into misfortune and suffering."
"I yearn to fall on your feet and serve you with mind, heart and soul."
ON THE PATH TO BLISS
A practitioner of spirituality, a devotee treads on the path towards bliss from where a liberated soul never returns back. He prays to all those gods on the way in the following manner. "O Agni! I yearn to serve my Lord. Please reach me there by leading me by the auspicious Utarayana path. You are the one who knows my deeds. I have worshipped my Lord all throughout my life. It is his blessings that I am experiencing the beauty of God this moment."
"Even if you think that there is any action performed or not performed by me is an obstacle then please eliminate it by blessing me. I prostrate before you with respect and honour."