The Origin Of The Upanishads
The Origin Of The Upanishads
☆ The Upanishads dating back to about 800 -1000 BC marks a big step & progress in the development of Indo-Aryan thought and mentality.
☆ This was the time when the Aryans had now been settled down with a stable and prosperous civilization which was a mixture or amalgamation of the old Dravidian race (who were in minority) and the new Aryan race.
☆ The mixed civilization was dominated by Aryan thought and ideals but with a shade or background of more primitive forms of worship.
☆ The Vedas are now referred to with respect but also in a spirit of gentle irony wherein the Vedic gods no longer satisfy the modern Aryan outlook and the ritual of the priests is made fun of. However, there is no attempt to break with the past and the past is taken as a starting point for further progress.
☆ The Upanishads are loaded with a spirit of inquiry, of mental adventure, of a passion for finding out the truth about nature and existence; No dogma is allowed to come in the way; there is much that is trivial and without any meaning or relevance for us today.
☆ However, the emphasis is essentially on Self-realization, on knowledge of the individual Self (Atma/soul) and the absolute SELF (param Atma or supreme soul) both of which are said to be the same in essence.
☆ The general tendency of Upanishads is towards monism and the whole approach is evidently intended to lessen or reduce the differences that must have existed then, leading to fierce debate. It was meant to pave the way for synthesis or unification and a bold attempt to unite all.
☆ In Upanishadic teachings, interest in magic and witchcraft is strictly discouraged. Rituals and ceremonies without purpose or enlightenment are said to be futile exercises and I quote " those engaged in rituals, considering themselves learned men of understanding, stagger along aimlessly like blind men led by the blind and thereby fail to reach the goal ". Even the Vedas are treated as the lower mode of knowledge, the higher mode being that of the inner mind & intellect.
☆ In Upanishads, there is a continuous attempt to harmonize social activity with spiritual adventure. The duties and obligations imposed by life were to be carried out, but in a spirit of detachment without expectations.
☆ In Upanishads, there is a continual and repeated emphasis on (1) fitness of the body, (2) clarity of the mind, and (3) rigorous discipline of both body and mind before any effective progress can be made for the acquisition of knowledge or any achievement which requires restraint, self-suffering and self-sacrifice.
☆ The style & form of the language employed in Upanishads is terse often of question and answer between a pupil/student and teacher and it is believed that the Upanishads were some kind of lecture notes made by the teacher and taken down by his disciples.
☆ I hold a different view; My assumption is that the Upanishads are the minutes of the lengthy proceedings or debate or brainstorming sessions held between few creative individuals whom I term them as a creative minority who fashioned the Upanishads.
☆ What gives the Upanishads their unique quality and unfailing human appeal, is an earnest sincerity of tone as of friends or intellectuals conferring & debating upon matters of deep concern.
☆ Description of the Soul: "Whole is that whole too is this; from Whole, cometh whole; take whole from Whole, yet Whole remains"
☆ Bottom Line :
● It is the "Creative Minority" that formulated the Upanishads which is purely & entirely based on Metaphysical democracy.
● There is no important form of Hindu thought, including heterodox Buddhism, which is not rooted in the Upanishads.
● In the whole world, there is no study that is so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads.
● Upanishads are products of the highest wisdom and are destined to become the faith of the entire world sooner or later!