Eternal Stories from the Upanishads

October 30, 2020
Eternal Stories from the Upanishads

The Upanishads are a precious aspect of the Vedic Literature ofIndia, the land of the Veda. The full meaning of the Upanishads isnot found in books. Rather, the Upanishads are structures of ourown consciousness, our Self, and can be directly experienced in thesimplest state of our own awareness. While reading stories from theUpanishads, it is important to remember that they are about thequalities of pure consciousness. Even though the stories describethe comings and goings of people and events, at a more subtle levelof understanding, these stories describe the dynamics ofconsciousness found within everyone.The Upanishads focus on the ultimate reality of life; theyexpress the full glory of the Self, Ãtmå, by gaining which nothingelse is left to be gained. The Upanishads bring out that the truenature of the Self is wholeness, the totality of natural law,Brahman. From this level of experience, everyone and everything isnear and dear to us as our own Self; one flows in universal love,nourishing everyone and everything.Traditionally, the Upanishads were passed down from teacher tostudent. “Upa-ni-shad” literally means “to sit down near.”The Upanishads contain beautiful and exhilarating phrases suchas “Thou art That” (tat tvam asi), “I am Totality” (ahaµbrahmåsmi), and “All this is Brahman—Totality” (sarvaµ khalv idaµbrahma). These phrases are nothing less than descriptions of thesupreme awakening of consciousness to its own true nature. They areknown as “great sayings” (mahåvåkya) because they describe theessential teaching of the Upanishads in compact expressions. Thesesayings are the final strokes of knowledge from the teacher, whichfully enlighten the student who is ready to receive them; thenwholeness dawns in the awareness. In reading the stories from theUpanishads, we are thus reminded of the flow of our life towardsits supreme goal.The Upanishads, like all other aspects of Veda and the VedicLiterature, were cognized by the great enlightened Vedic Rishis, orseers; the profound truths dawned spontaneously in the silentdepths of their own pure consciousness. Their cognitions areexpressed in the language of nature, Sanskrit. According to theMuktikå Upanishad (1.30–9), there are 108 Upanishads, with tenprincipal Upanishads (Ásha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Muˆdaka,MåˆdËkya, Taittir¥ya, Aitareya, Chhåndogya, and B®ihadåraˆyaka). Inthis book, the name of the Upanishad is written under each story’stitle. Sanskrit words and phrases that appear in each story arelisted at the end of the book, along with their pronunciation andmeaning.