Sunday, July 12, 2015

Isavasya Upanishad - Introduction

Dedicated to
To my mother – Late - Smt. Shanta Konda Rajaram
To my father – Late - Shri.Rajaram Konda
To my first Guru in Sanskrit – Late.Shri.Shreenath of Mambalam Samskrita Vidyalaya
To my Guru in Sanskrit Certificate Course & Diploma – Shri.Shreekanth of Madras Sanskrit College – Chennai

Isavasya upanishad  :-
Introduction :-
The Hindu Scriptural literature is so vast and comprehensive that there is no branch of knowledge left uninvestigated by the great seers of this Country – India.
Before we go into the study of Isaavaasya Upanishad we have to fully understand what is Upanishad. Who wrote it? When was it written? And who said this to whom and where? What is the significance of this? Why is it considered so important to the Hindus? …. And many more questions. 
The ‘Upanishads’ contains the highest of all Philosophical teachings.  ‘Upanishads is a part of the Vedas. The holy book of Hindus is the “VEDAS”.  So before we try to understand ‘Upanishads’ we have to understand what is ‘Hinduism’ and what is ‘Vedas’. Let us start with ‘Hinduism’ first. Since understanding the very basic concepts of Upanishads is difficult, the study of this can be started from school final onwards only.  you can start teaching these philosophical ideas that are present in our Hindu religion, which no other religion has. 

Let us see what swamy Vivekananda has to say about our religion.

Concept of Sanaathana Dharma :-

The holy book of Hindus is the ‘Vedas’, Since, it is the source of all other Hindu scriptures. ‘Vedas’ means ‘Knowledge’.   For our understanding we are dividing the sum of all these knowledge into various segments. On a broader scale the entire knowledge gained can be divided into two namely, Para Vidya (Intuitive knowledge) and Apara Vidya (Intellectual knowledge).  For our study at present we will deal with only Apara Vidya.  This is again divided into Secular and Sacred and for our study we will take only Sacred.  Sacred Knowledge can be divided into 2 namely, Srutis dealing with eternal principles and Smritis dealing with practical applications of eternal principles . 

Before we go into further study we have to understand the time factor of these collected knowledge.  From when and from where, were these knowledge gathered.  It is said the during the initial stages of creation, the Supreme Lord Para-Brahman or the Virat Purusha revealed the Vedas to demi-God Brahma Deva the creator. And he in turn revealed it to Swayambhuva Manu who was the first creation.  This year according to the Christian calender is 2014, and this means 2014 years have passed since the crucification of Jesus Christ.  So, what is this year in Hindu Calender?
According to the Hindu calender it is Kaliyabdham 5115. This means 5115 years have passed since the dissapperance of Lord Krishna from the Earth.
Kali yuga is supposed to have been started since the dissappearance of Lord Krishna from this Earth.  The duration of Kali yuga is calculated to be around 4,32,000 years out of which only 5115 years are over. So there is 4,26,885 years more for the Kali Yuga to end and the total annihilation of this world, before creations starts once again. Before Kali Yuga was Dwapara Yuga which lasted for 8,64,000 years.  Krishna’s time was at the end of Dwapara Yuga.
Till the end of Dwapara yuga all the Veda were available as a collective lot and hence there were no divisions.  During the end of Dwapara Yuga Maharishi Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa catagorised these Vedas and divided it into 4 divisions namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. 
And in turn Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa gave these Vedas to his sishyas (pupils) to prapagate it among the people. 
Rig Veda        = Maharishi Paila
Yajur Veda     = Maharishi Vaisampayana
Sama Veda    = Maharishi Jaimini
Atharva Veda = Maharishi Sumantu Muni Angirasa.

Vedas divisions

Each Veda consisted of 2 parts. The first 3/4th of the Veda is Karma Kanda and the last 1/4th is the Gnana Kanda. Karma Kanda deals in detail about the Mantras and the rituals to be performed. While the Gnana Kanda deals with the description of the Supreme God known as the Para Brahman or the Virat Purasha.  Karma kanda has 2 divisions namely Samhita (Mantras) and Brahmanas (ritualistics). And Gnana Kanda has 2 divisions namely Aranyakas (Contemplative) and Upanishads (Highest philosophical thoughts).  Each of the 4 Vedas have its own Upanishads.



Upa nishati iti = Upanishad. This means “taking one nearer to the Para Brahman.  “अनन्य विद्यया ब्रह्मम् प्राप्यते  “ananya vidyayaa brahmam praapyate” by knowing this Upanishads, one is able to know the Brahman.  Upanishads were said only in the Aranyakaas (forests) and hence also known as Aranyaka.   The first sloka of Brahma sutra starts as …  "अथातो ब्रह्मजिज्ञासा"  meaning, “then and thereafter he comes to enquire about Brahman”.  “when and whereafter”?   It is also said “Brahmano nirveda” meaning only after completely practicing the Karma kaanda of the Vedas “कर्म विचारं अनन्तरे, and after getting fed up with the rituals, one gets the desire to know the Brahman. जिज्ञासा = ज्ञातुमिच्छा.  This subject matter is known as “Mimamsa”.   मीमांसा = पूज्यविषये विचार: Mimamsa is also known as the enquiry into the highest philosophical thoughts. 
isavasya upanishad
At the end of every Veda we have Upanishads.  Isavasya Upanishad is at the end of Shukla Yajur Veda. There is a speciality about this Isavasya Upanishad. Normally Upanishads are found only after the Aranyakas. But in this case Eashavasya Upanishad is read along with the Samhita part of the Vedas which are usually Mantras and rituals. The reason why it has been classified under the Upanishads is that, it talks in detail about the Brahman.  
Story part of the Upanishads :-
Normally an interesting story is always associated with the Upanishads. Most of the Upanishads are in the form of "संवाद:" meaning a conversation between Guru and Sishya.  Following is the interesting story which led to the Eashavasya Upanishad.
We have already seen that Maharishi Veda Vyasa segregated the Vedas into 4 and gave it to his Sishyas for propagation. Yajur Veda was given to Maharishi Vysampayana.  And Vysampayana had many Sishyas namely Yaagnya valkya, his brother Balaka, Bodhayana, Trishanku, Vykhanasa….etc.,  Vysampayanaa’s ashrama was on the outskirts of “Mithila” which was ruled by King Janaka. 

One day it so happened that Vysampayana had been invited to attend a meeting (conference) of Maharishis in Meru parvatha. Due to some unavoidable reasons or due to the deiva sankalpa he could not go and attend this meeting and so he had sent his Sishya Trishanku. 

On return Trishanku gave the message that all the other Maharishis had come to the meet and his absence was seen as an arrogance by Maharishis Viswamitra and Druvasa. Though Maharishi Vashishta supported Vysampayana, Druvasa became angry and cursed Vysampayana for not coming to the meet that he be afflcted with "ब्रह्महत्ति दोषा" in seven days time. Trishanku also told him that he can get relief from the curse by performing the Chaadraayana Homa. Since the person afflicted with dosha cannot perform the homa, his Sishyaas have to perform it.   Vysampayana accepted it with great sorrow, knowing fully well the he has to kill some one if he should be afflicted with "ब्रह्महत्ति दोषा".

In the mean time it was Sishyaa Yaagnyavalkyaas turn to take the daily “mantraakshata prasada” to King Janaka.  On advice from Vysampayana he took his little brother Balaka also with him to the palace.  On reaching the palace they found that the king was not there in the throne.  The little boy Balaka out of mischief snatched the mantraakshata from Yaagnyavalkya, climbed up the throne and placed it on the throne. Since it is a sin for ordinary people to climb the throne a curse was uttered in an echo voice, that the one who climbed the throne will be dead shortly.  

When they returned to the ashram, Vysampayana was very angry with Yaagnyavalkya.  Balaka fell on Vysampayana’s feet and begged pardon to say that it is his fault and by accident Vysampayana kicked the boy. The boy fell down and died.  As per the curse he had killed the boy and he was afflicted with Brahma hatti dosha.  Yaagnyavalkya retaliated his guru and said that he alone is qualified to perform the Chaandraayana homa among his Sishyaas.  Guru Vysampayana got more angry and asked him to give back all the Vedas taught to him and leave the ashrama. Yaagnyavalkya with his yogic powers brought out all what he had learnt and threw the Vedas he had learnt in the air.  The other Sishyaas took the form of Thithiri birds and swallowed the Vedas thrown in the air.  The other Sishyaas performed the Chaandraayana homa and relieved their Guru Vysampayana from the dosha. 

Yaagnyavalkya who walked out went straight to the Meru parvatha and did Tapas invoking the Sun God. After several years of severe Tapas, Sun God appeared. Yaagnyavalkya asked the Sun God to give him a Veda other than what he had returned to his guru Vysampayana.  The Sun god pleased with his tapas, took the form of Hayagriva…. Man with horse head and gave him the “Shukla Yajur Veda”  This is also known as the “Vaajasaneya Yajur Veda”

The one that was given by Veda Vyasa to Vysampayana is known as the “Krishna Yajur Veda”. 

Yaagnyavalkya after getting the “Shukla Yajur Veda” propagated it to his sishyaas Kaanva and Tadhyan aatharvana.  Tadhyan aatharvana in turn gave it to his son and Sishya Subodha. At the end of Shukla Yajur Veda is the Isvasya Upanishad.  

So the Isvasya Upanishad is a samvaada between Tadhyan aatharvana and Subodha. 

Isavasya Upanishad - Invocation

Isavasya upanishad - Invocation
Á mÉÔhÉïqÉS: mÉÔhÉïÍqÉSÇ mÉÔhÉÉïiÉç mÉÔhÉïqÉÑScrÉiÉå |
mÉÔhÉïxrÉ mÉÔhÉïqÉÉSÉrÉ mÉÔhÉïqÉåuÉÉuÉÍzÉwrÉiÉå || 
Oum- the complete whole:  purnam-perfectly complete: adah-that: purnam-perfectly complete: idam-this phenomenal world: purnaat- from the all perfect: purnam-complete unit: udacyate-is produced: purnasya-of the complete whole: purnam-complete all: aadaaya-having been taken away: purnam-the complete balance: eva-even: avasisyate-is remaining.
The personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes.  Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete in itself.  Because he is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from him, he remains the complete balance. 

Isavasya Upanishad - Mantra -1

Isavasya upanishad – Mantra -1  
DzÉÉuÉxrÉÍqÉS óè xÉuÉïÇ rÉÎiMügcÉ eÉaÉirÉÉÇ eÉaÉiÉç |
iÉålÉ irÉ£åülÉ pÉÑgeÉÏjÉÉ qÉÉ aÉ×kÉ: MüxrÉ ÎxuÉSè kÉlÉqÉç || |1|   
   Isha-by the Lord: aavasyam-controlled: idam-this: sarvam-all: yat kincha-whatever: jagatyaam-within the universe: jagat-all that is animate and inanimate: tena-by Him: tyaktena-set apart quota: bhunjithaah-you should accept: maa-do not: grdhah-endeavour to gain: kasya svit-of anyone else: dhanam-the wealth. 
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord.  One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong. 

Isavasya Upanishad - Mantra -2

Isavasya upanishad – Mantra -2
MÑüuÉï³ÉåuÉåWû MüqÉÉïÍhÉ ÎeÉeÉÏÌuÉwÉåcNûiÉ óè xÉqÉÉ: |
LuÉÇ iuÉÌrÉ lÉÉlrÉjÉåiÉÉåÅÎxiÉ lÉ MüqÉï ÍsÉmrÉiÉå lÉUå || |2|
Kurvan-doing continuously: eva-thus: iha-during this span of life: karmaani-work: jijeevishet-one should desire to live: satam-one hundred: samaah-years: evam-so living: tvayi-unto you: na-no: anyatha-alternative: itah-from this path: asti-there is: na-not: karma-work: lipyate-can be bound: nare-unto a man. 
One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.

Isavasya Upanishad - Mantra -3

Isavasya upanishad – Mantra -3
AxÉÑrÉÉï lÉÉqÉ iÉå sÉÉåMüÉ AlkÉålÉ iÉqÉxÉÉuÉ×iÉÉ: |
iÉÉ óè xiÉå mÉëåirÉÉÍpÉaÉcNûÎliÉ rÉå Måü cÉ AÉiqÉWûlÉÉå eÉlÉÉ: || |3|
Asuryaah-meant for the asuras: naama-famous by the name: te-those: lOkah-planets: andhena-by ignorance: tamasaa-by darkness: aavrtaah-covered: taan-those planets: te-they: pretya-after death: abhigacchanti-enter into: ye-anyone: ke-everyone: ca-and: aatma hanah-the killers of the soul: janah-persons:  
The killer of the soul, whoever he may be, must enter into the planets known as the worlds of the faithless, full of darkness and ignorance.