Isha Upanishad - Shloka 1 by Dr. R. K. Lahri SignUp
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Isha Upanishad - Shloka 1
by Dr. R. K. Lahri Bookmark and Share
 



Om isavasyam-idagm sarvam yat-kinca jagatyam jagat,
tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam (1)

Know that all this,
whatever be in this ephemeral world
penetrated by the Lord,
belongs to Him.
Therefore find all enjoyments in renunciation
and covet not what belongs to others.

Commentary 

The opening mantra sounds like a corollary of Peace Invocation. It is mainly an exposition of the Path of Knowledge or Jnana yoga.

Earth is a planet of solar system, orbiting about the sun between Venus and Mars. It is the planet on which we live. Cosmos is the universe, a well ordered whole. Universe includes all existing things, the whole creation or the cosmos combined into one homogenous whole.

The earth is ever moving and the world is ever changing. Nothing in this world is ever static. Every atom is moving constantly. One wonders who is behind this moving power. Is he outside it or somewhere into it? We have to realize that the Supreme has its abode in everything and everywhere. In reality, it is the Infinite Self that conceives within itself the duality of one’s Self for the other. It is the mind that arises as a wave and disturbs the surface of the calm ocean of the world but the mind as the wave remains in its origin. Take the example of bracelet. Bracelet does not exist without gold whereas gold exists without bracelet. So the mind; wave or bracelet cannot exist without their basic source though the source remains as such. The quality and the nature of the created, the potentiality of the creation is all inherent in the creator. Mind, being non-different from the Infinite Self, has no independent existence of its own. The conclusion is that the world has no independent existence without the Creator God. So understand that the universe is pervaded by the Infinite Pure Awareness and then live and act in this world. 

The word “Vasyam” suggests that the Supreme spirit is situated in this world and is quite at home with it. What so ever we see with our organs of sensation and perception or through our mind and intellect, are all part of nature and the whole nature is the creation and abode of God. Pure Consciousness is surrounded by all these elements and what we call the Jeeva, the human soul is nothing but divine. We have to realize the divinity within. Pure Consciousness is the seed of which the world appears as the tree.  So the world is nothing but Brahma. Elements rise in the Pure Consciousness like dream objects. Consciousness is Brahma, the mind is Brahma, and the intellect is Brahma. Brahma alone is the substance, sound or wind is the Brahma and Brahma alone is the component of all substances. All indeed is Brahma; there exists no world in reality.

We all live in a world that is constantly changing. The very word Jagat suggests a changing and dynamic universe. Change is the law of life. All elements are changing. Every change is easily recognised with reference to something changeless; change being relative.  We know that God is changeless. He is the Reality, the Eternal Truth and we also know that this universe is a changing phenomenon we have to realize this reality behind all such changes.

The seer suggests that we should experience the nature of Spirit through a process of renunciation. We all desire for peace and bliss in life. Happiness cannot be gained without it. Happiness is our essential nature. We have to work for it. Our misery comes not from work but from getting attached to something. So we need not grab material things as our own possession and have a feeling of detachment while working with them. We must work according to dictates that come from within; the society is bound to veer round it .There we have to plunge heart and soul and body into the work with patience, perseverance and selflessness. Everything depends upon the mind. It biases the mind that conjures up a sort of relationship between the transient phenomena of unrelated beings. With a feeling of renunciation, the mind is kept under control and the feeling of happiness in the changing objects of the universe can be achieved; provided we surrender to God so as to be "That".

We have to understand that renunciation is actually the renunciation of hopes and aspirations.  Renunciation is not the physical withdrawal from the world of action but lies in giving up of self-centred activities and actions while not coveting any fruit of action. It is mental attitude towards work, neither hate nor desire but freedom from all pair of opposites. We should see the presence of the Lord in all appearances and modifications and abandon all delusions of duality. This is called surrender to Lord or offering of self to the Lord. Freedom from ego and craving or sense pleasure makes such a person happy

As we think, we become that. Greed, covetousness, avarice, ego, sensuousness, have to give way to harmonious perceptions and thoughts. The seer asks us not to covet wealth. It does not belong to us.

Wealth as well as materialism deludes the ignorant. It is unsteady and fleeting. It gives way to a number of worries and generates craving for more and more. The seer asks us not to make any passionate pursuit for wealth as it taints even the hearts of heroes, the seers and others and has no relationship with happiness and Bliss. It is like a night fall of the owl of evil desires, a tread of death. The seers welcome wealth of self-knowledge or else wealth is a burden even as the knowledge of scriptures is a burden .It never can serve any useful purpose. The seer asks us to employ the material wealth with a divine understanding as no material prosperity is effectively possible in the purpose without spiritual altar of divine light.  We have to accept it and consume it in cooperation for the benefit of humanity as a trustee of God. The property is not mine, it is gift of God to me for humanitarian purpose and I am answerable to Him for its consumption.

The two lines of the shloka refer to two aspects—1-Knowledge and 2-Karma.

Jnana and Karma are two paths in the realisation of the Supreme.

Lord Krishna in Gita has stated, “Three paths have been stated by Me for seekers eager for their welfare: 1-Knowledge, 2- Karma and 3- Devotion. There is no other way of total welfare, (11-20-6)

All these paths are interdependent, intertwined and inter –related in Gita’s philosophy of renunciation. They all aim at the Absolute. The path of Karma employs all the three forms of the body—the gross, the subtle and the causal-in the service of humanity. Power to act is gifted to us for a selfless service. In the path of knowledge we have to go for detachment, physical and emotional and rise above the three to seek realization in the Self. It is self –knowledge. Gita says, “Verily there is no purifier in this world like knowledge.

Knowledge of the Self is very pure as it is conductive to God realisation. Sankaracharya pleads that the path of karma should merge with the Path of Knowledge (Atman Bodha -2 ) The Supreme Yoga -1 says thus , “Birds are able to fly with their two wings; even so both work and knowledge together lead to the Supreme goal of liberation. Not indeed work alone nor indeed knowledge alone can lead to liberation.” Maharishi Raman sees all the three into one. To him, devotion is Jnana Mata; (mother of knowledge) as only a true jnani can be a devotee. Devotee stresses upon surrender and jnani on vichar (knowledge) both want the Ego merge into the source where from it sprang out. All actions and karmas tend to follow one’s meditation we should meditate along the path of Karma and realise the Self. The perfect stage is the fusion of jnana, karma; and devotion.

Glimpses of World Religion” on page 41, puts it thus,

“To those seeking knowledge,
He is the Eternal Light,
to those struggling for virtue,
He is the Eternal Righteousness,
and to those emotionally inclined,
He is Eternal Love.”

Swami Chinmayanandji sums up thus

See God in all
to Him belong all
Know, renounce and rejoice
seek not to possess, nothing is yours.

Previous: Peace Invocation  
Next: Shloka 2

13-Feb-2011
More by :  Dr. R. K. Lahri
 
Views: 3202
Article Comment Excellent interpretation by Dr.Lahri. Sahasrakoti pranams to him. I also support Dr.Gopal Singh's view that hopes and aspirations could be directed towards a positive end.

Just would like to add here that Poojyasri Swami Krishnananda of Divine Life Society had said 'true renunciation is giving up possiveness'.rather than possessions!
R.S.Murthy
12/20/2012
Article Comment Salutation for the wonderful knowledge.Let us understand and be a good human being to serve the community
pc
P.C.Jain
02/14/2011
Article Comment Wonderful commentary. Very well explained. Removes a lot of mis-interpretations by a casual reader of this great Upanishad..

I will request that you revist the first sentence of your following paragraph. Everything else within it is well stated.


"We have to understand that renunciation is actually the renunciation of hopes and aspirations. Renunciation is not the physical withdrawal from the world of action but lies in giving up of self-centred activities and actions while not coveting any fruit of action. It is mental attitude towards work, neither hate nor desire but freedom from all pair of opposites. We should see the presence of the Lord in all appearances and modifications and abandon all delusions of duality. This is called surrender to Lord or offering of self to the Lord. Freedom from ego and craving or sense pleasure makes such a person happy."

The hopes and aspirations could be applied toward knowing the Self and realizing it. It could also be toward "selfless" actions. The second sentence reinforces it. Can it be stated slightly differently to remove any possible confusions?
drgopalsingh
02/13/2011
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