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.
This masterful commentary on the Upanishad by Swami Satyananda Explains the Vedantic concepts in the context of deep yogic insights and personal shadhana. kAs a result, a different light is thrown on the mantras, reaching a depth of understanding not conventionally found. The original Sanskrit text has been translated and explained in alucid and comprehensible style, which effortlessly upligts the reader. The Volume also includes Swami Sivananda’s teachings on Ishavasya Upanishad.
Swami Satyananda was born in
Almora (Uttaranchal) in 1923.
Drawn to spiritual life from an early
age, he left home at the age of
eighteen, and in 1943 surrendered
himself to Swami Sivananda in
Rishikesh who initiated him into
Dashnami sannyasa in 1947. He
served his guru for twelve years,
perfecting every aspect of spiritual
life. Thereafter, he travelled through-
out the Indian subcontinent ,
Realizing the need of the times as scientific rendition of the ancient
system of yoga, he founded the International Yoga Fellowship in
1956 and the Bihar School of Yoga in 1963. During the next twenty
years, Swami Satyananda hoisted the flag of yoga in every corner of
the world, consolidated BSY into a foremost institution of yoga, and
authored over eighty major texts on yoga, tantra and spiritual life.
'Satyananda Yoga' became a tradition which combines classical
knowledge with experiential understanding and a modern outlook.
In 1984 he founded the Yoga Research Foundation to synchronize
scientific research and yoga, and Sivananda Math to assist the
underprivileged. In 1988, at the peak of his achievements, he
renounced everything and adopted kshetra sannyasa, living as a
paramahamsa ascetic. In 1989 Rikhia was revealed to him, where
he came to live and performed higher vedic sadhanas in seclusion.
Receiving the command to provide for his neighbours in 1991,
he allowed the ashram to help the underprivileged villages in the
region. From 1995 onwards, he performed a twelve-year Rajasooya
Yajna with the sankalpa of peace, plenty and prosperity for all, and
in 2007 he announced the establishment of Rikhiapeeth with its
mandate to 'serve, love, give'.
Swami Satyananda attained mahasamadhi, a yogic accomplishment
of discarding the body at will to become one with the universal
consciousness, in 2009, in the presence of his disciples.
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 Rig Veda describes a creator from outside, 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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