Upanishads are the deep spiritual portions of the Vedas. The Hymns (mantras), the Brahmanas (specific portions of Vedas), the Aranyakas (which deal with various methods of Upasanas - Invocations) and The Upanishads form the integral parts of the Vedas and the Scriptures. The Upanishads contain deep spiritual discussions at various periods of time between different spiritual teachers and their aspirant students, regarding the Eternal Purpose of creation and the Supreme Goal of Existence.
Upanishad, according to the Western Orientalists, means to sit down near a teacher and to learn (‘Shad’ means to sit; ‘Upa’ means near). This means that one cannot learn this knowledge directly by reading a book. One should seek for a competant teacher who himself should have experienced what he wants to impart to the student. In turn the student should revere the teacher to acquire the deep secret knowledge. But as we know, God has kept the hidden wisdom with Himself and no mortal man can boast that he has become perfect. Immortality (AMRITATVAM) is that which belongs to God and no man so far is in a position to achieve it. Many people may say that so and so is ‘Chiranjivi’ (destined to live eternally), but in Gita, Krishna says that ‘only the pure devotees of God shall never fail’. But we know that all the devotees of Krishna as well as himself passed away after their time. The same thing happened also in the domain of all the past Avatars (Incarnations). Then how can people say that man has become immortal? This is the secret hidden from the time of creation by The Creator Himself who is called by many names by the people of the world, NARAYANA by HINDUS, CHRIST JESUS by CHRISTIANS, JEHOVAH by the JEWS, ALLAH by MUSLIMS, etc. Every religion says that it believes in the Supreme Spirit that created the heavens, the earth, and the seas and all that are therein.
The deeper meaning of Upanishad can also be given as ‘the knowledge that destroys our ignorance, through the Revelation of “The Supreme Entity’. Shad means to destroy or to approach. Thus the Upanishad is a knowledge (Vidya) which helps one to approach the Supreme Entity, to feel Him. There are in all 280 Upanishads so far available, of which 108 are accepted as authentic by the Vedic Scholars, and 11 are considered by the Vedic Scholars and the stalvarts like Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhwa, the three Acharyas, as Major and important. All the other Upanishads are considered as Minor. But some of the minor Upanishads are as important as the major ones. They are called minor only because of the knowledge gained by the students by the study of the major Upanishads. Infact some of the minor Upanishads reveal the secrets which the major Upanishads have not revealed. These Upanishads are meant for those seekers of Truth who are already familiar with the major Upanishads, though not in full atleast with some of them. The Upanishads do not teach any creed or dogmas, nor are they hastily written. These Upanishads are the deep spiritual experiences of the particular Vedic Scholar and corresponding students who also were the authorities in their spiritual fields. These are the discoveries made by them on the SOURCE OF LIFE. They try to explain the Unexplainable, to reveal the One who cannot be revealed, but it is for the seeker to gain experience with this study for himself. It is one’s personal experience with the Supreme Entity and for that experience these Upanishads try to help in one way or the other. Upanishads do not give any blind promises, nor do they propagate any belief. These are the techniques by which a seeker can gradually unfold and have his own individual experience with That Supreme Entity.
KAIVALYA UPANISHAD belongs to ATHARVANA VEDA. It contains 26 texts. ‘Kaivalya’ means ‘LIBERATION’, the only resort to Amritatvam, deathlessness, as explained in this Upanishad. The discussion in this Upanishad is not between two ordinary people, teacher and student, but it is seen that Sage Ashwalayana, one of the Vedic Rishis of RIG VEDA is approaching the greatest teacher of all the times, the Very Creator, BRAHMA. Ashwalayana approaches the Creator as to how to attain That SUPREME PARAMA PURUSHA.
“Then Ashwalayana approached The Lord Creator: “O, Bhagavan, teach me that SUPREME BRAHMAVIDYA, the ever hidden secret knowledge for man, the Wisdom of Creator by which one discarding all sins, can reach the HIGHEST PURUSHA (PARAMA PURUSHA)”.
The term ‘Then’ indicates typically in Upanishad, that the student has already undergone all the previous studies and that he has prepared himself for this deep secret study of the Scripture. Ashwalayana is a famous teacher of Vedas (Rig Veda). Such a great scholar is approaching the greatest of all, The Creator Himself, requesting Him to impart him the secret of the art of reaching (attaining) the PARAMA PURUSHA. No man can be perfect without knowing who he is, from where he has come, how he has come and when he was created. The knowledge can never be achieved by simple studies of the books. Only God has to reveal. No man can boast that by his sheer efforts of controlling his senses and leading a Holy life he has achieved Mumukshatvam (liberation). Without Parama Purusha, no man can go in mukti (liberation). Sage Ashwalayana thus asks for this aspect of knowledge as to how to reach that PURUSHA, the Most High.
An attempt is made here by His Grace to show how this Truth is hidden so far from the vulturous eyes of the world. Some of the excerpts are given for the enlightenment of the reader. It is better to study the full portion of the Upanishad.
“Secret” (Text.1) means not that which should not be told to others, but it means that this knowledge is beyond our human comprehension. This knowledge is called as BRAHMAVIDYA, meaning the Knowledge of Creator or the knowledge as taught by the Creator Himself. That is why even Gita is called as Brahmavidya, as it is taught by SRI KRISHNA the Jagatguru (World Teacher) to His disciple Arjuna. Thus this knowledge can be imparted only by the Creator Himself personally to whomsoever He likes. But Hindu Scholars emphasise that one should go to some experienced teacher (guru) and be initiated (Diksha) to acquire this knowledge. How can a guru who is unaware of the revelation of Creator as PARAMA PURUSHA, impart this knowledge which he himself does not know? Krishna says that one has to forsake all his belongings, his religion, his doctrines, his position, his status and when such a person surrenders totally to Him alone, not to any guru, but to the CREATOR alone, only then the Creator will cleanse him from all his sins. That means that man has to see God face to face if what Gita preaches is true. Then how could this self-realisation be achieved through yogas and meditations? We should think well in order to clear ourselves from all these creeds and dogmas formed by the past religious leaders dragging away the people from God.
Here in this text the student, not a mean man, but the Sage Ahwalayana is asking God (Brahma) how to transcend his mortal body and come and live the ETERNAL LIFE, CALLED AS PARAMA PURUSHA which expresses ITSELF in many forms and names. He is not after the names and forms of PURUSHA, but is after the PURUSHA himself. Such is the zeal of the seeker to whom God is bound to reveal, because God delights in such devotees.
TEXT - 2
“The Pitamaha (BRAHMA) answered him thus: Know this by Yoga (means) of Shraddha (faith), Bhakti (devotion) and Dhyanam (meditation)”.
All these three means are known to Ashwalayana already, as he himself is a great teacher of Vedas. But (God) Brahma shows him that as such he knows not anything of this aspect of knowledge. It means that no amount of knowledge can lead to God but only faith with devotion and constant thinking (meditation) of God in heart will lead him to God. Yoga is not an art but a means to obtain the consciousness of God. Thus Brahmavidya can be understood only by means of faith, devotion and meditation.
SHRADDHA means not merely faith but faith with power to act accordingly. Bhakti is devotion or love towards one’s aim. Faith is the function of the mind and devotion that of the heart; then meditation is the combined action of both the head and the heart. This is called as DHYANA, not just blind meditation without any aim. We know whom we should touch in meditation, that PARAMA PURUSHA. We have faith that He will liberate us without death straightaway, for which sake He has come down in this Kali Yuga. Because we love Him, we leave all our previous attachments, paths, and ways, to be true to Him alone and to obey Him at all costs.
Upanishads try to define the Undefinable, to explain the Inexplicable, and to give an understanding about the Ununderstandable. That Supreme Entity, nobody knows or realises that HE IS A MAN, as we are, yet IMMORTAL, IMMUTABLE, IMPERISHABLE. This Upanishad also tries to explain this aspect though not openly but secretly sealing the Message so that only He Himself has to come down and reveal Himself who He is.
TEXT - 3
“Not by works (Karma), nor by progeny, nor by wealth, but by TYAGA (Forsaking or Renunciation) alone, IMMORTALITY (deathlessness) is attained, higher than heaven, seated in the heart (of the PARAMA PURUSHA) shining, which the seekers attain”.
This is the portion where many scholars think that anybody can attain immortality. When Ashwalayana asks God (Brahma) about Immortality, so that he can live with PARAMA PURUSHA, Brahma is telling him where it is found. IT IS FOUND ONLY IN ONE HEART, THE HEART OF PARAMA PURUSHA, not in everybody’s heart, howsoever big he or she may be. By having fellowship with that PARAMA PURUSHA only, one can get that deathlessness, through complete surrender which is called as PRAPATTI, by forsaking everything which is called as TYAGA. Tyaga means not renunciation and taking sanyasam as propagated by many Hindu religionists. The Spirit of Renunciation is more important than the mere wearing of saffron robes outwardly and yet having all the desires of the worldly honours, recognition, fame and name. Though leaving the family life and comforts, many sanyasis lead better luxurious lives than even what the normal married people enjoy. This Text clearly says that to obtain deathlessness, caste, creed, or karma (action) etc., never counts. Progeny means it is not that only brahmins will attain it. It is not that only sanyasis will attain it. Rather they all may miss it but the downtrodden who were once the mighty elite people, may attain it certainly if they realise, believe and acknowledge that the One who has come down now is their Saviour, the very Narayana Himself in His own Human Form. But the self-styled religious leaders say that KALKI AVATAR should come only in a set line in an upper caste. But in this text, Brahma clearly says, only because He, in the first given opportunity, stepped down and offered Himself as SUPREME SACRIFICE (Read PURUSHA SUKTA) for the welfare of His people, this AMRITATVAM (IMMORTALITY) came to us. He says this stage is beyond the Heaven. This state is not that we are going to get. THIS IS THE GLORY OF PARAMA PURUSHA WHICH HE GOT AFTER HIS SUPREME SACRIFICE. A seeker can only go upto heaven, where he can have fellowship in and with Him. The Amritatvam we are going to get is different from the Amritatvam which He the PARAMA PURUSHA has. That is the Glory which no man has seen, no man can approach into, in which the PARAMA PURSHA DWELLS. We just enter into Him by our total surrender. When we do not function anymore through our five senses totally, at a time when we do not perceive, nor feel anything, nor think of anything, when there is nothing in front of us to see and believe, but when we just totally believe His Word proceeding out of His mouth as very Veda, then only we experience our individuality completely melting away in His Presence, and realise that He alone is Real and everything other than He is just shadow or Maya.
Immortality or deathlessness is something which is beyond the human conception. The Hindus think that it means the experience of God-consciousness. The Muslims are not at all clear about it and they say that everyone has to die, and will come back to life on the day of the resurrection. The Christians lay greater stress on resurrection and even though they say that they believe in immortality, they are not eager to achieve or realize it, except a few like St. Paul, the strong exponent of Immortality in his days. He tried to prove that Jesus is alive when the whole world and even the disciples were hesitant to declare so. Paul alone clearly says that we all shall be changed without death unto His likeness when He appears to gather us and they that are dead shall rise first and we who are alive at His coming shall put on Glory. This is the nearest explanation that can be given to Immortality. It is life without death. Man is not created to die. This is something which is either not known to the people of the world, or not understood by them. That is why even in this Upanishad, Brahma, the creator is teaching that the way to attain Immortality is only through THYAGAM (Voluntary Forsaking).
TEXT - 4
“Those who are pure in mind, striving through the path of renunciation (voluntary forsaking), come to ascertain clearly the deeper imports of the knowledge, which is the theme of the Upanishad (Vedanta - end of Veda). They in the end, gain the world of Brahma, and liberating themselves from everything, gain the Highest Immortality”.
TEXT - 5
“In an undisturbed place, resting in a comfortable posture, clean and pure, with neck, head and body in one line held erect, in a mental attitude of Sanyasa (detachment from the world), having controlled all the senses, saluting one’s own guru (teacher) mentally with reverence, meditate within the lotus of the heart, the Untainted, the Pure, the Clear and the Griefless (CREATOR)”.
TEXT - 6
“The Unthinkable, the Unmanifest, the One of endless forms, the Ever-auspicious, the Peaceful, the Immortal, The Origin of the very Creator (Brahma), The One without a beginning, a middle and an end, the Only One, the All-prevading; the Knowledge-Bliss (Chidanandam), the Formless, and the wonderful”.
TEXT - 7
“By meditating upon Lord PARAMESHWARA (SUPREME ETERNAL KING) consorted by Uma, the Highest Lord, the All-powerful Beneficient of UMA, the Three-eyed, the Blue-necked and the Ever-tranquil, a true man of reflection reaches Him who is the Source of all the manifested world, the Witness of all, and who is beyond all darkness”.
PARAMESHWARA, means THE SUPREME ETERNAL LORD. There is a big mystery in the terminologies which the great sages employ to seal the hidden secrets of Godhead. PARAMESHWARA does not mean One having three eyes literally and his wife Uma. The term ‘OM’ is made of three Sanskrit letters, A, U, M. PARAMAPURUSHA is always known as the Beginning, that is why He is created as “A”. UM-A means all those Household of PARAMAPURUSHA. But without having the revelation of this meaning, we cannot understand this text. The text clearly says that one can reach The Supreme Lord only in the end days when He comes along with His Household (disciples). Three-eyed means His Divine potency being hidden from the sight of the world.
TEXT - 8
“He is Brahma, He is Siva, He is Indra. He is the Immutable, the Supreme, the Self-luminous. He alone is Vishnu, He is Prana, He is Time and Fire. He is the Moon”.
TEXT - 9
“He alone is all that was, and all that will be, the ETERNAL. Knowing Him, one goes beyond the sting of death. There is no other way to reach complete liberation”.
If anybody wants redemption (Mukti) there is only one way, that is coming to the feet of PARAMAPURUSHA”.
TEXT - 10
“Experiencing One Supreme Soul in all beings and all beings in that Supreme Soul (PARAMAPURUSHA), one attains the Highest Brahman (PARAMAPURUSHA, CREATOR) and not by any other means”.
TEXT - 17
“That which illumines the worlds of relative experiences lived in the waking, dream and deep-sleep conditions, that Brahman and I”, realising (HIM) thus, one is liberated from all shackles”.
TEXT - 19
“In me alone everything is born: in me alone does everything exist and in me is everything dissolved. I am that non-dual Brahman (CREATOR)”.
TEXT - 20
“I am smaller than the smallest and also am I the most vast. I am the manifold universe - amazing; I am the Ancient One, The PURUSHA: the SUPREME RULER am I, the Effulgent One, by nature ever auspicious”.
The above texts can never carry any meaning to a human being thinking that he is enlightened, that he is Brahman. These are the declarations of the very Creator, PARAMAPURUSHA as He declared Himself in Taittiriya Upanishad and Bhagavad Gita. No mortal man can claim this position except the ONE who has spoken it as both Creator as well as Inheritor.
TEXT - 21
“I am without hands and legs, of incomprehensible power. I see without eyes, hear without ears. Devoid of all forms, I am knowing (everything) and there is none that knows Me. I am ever Pure-Knowledge”.
TEXT - 22
“I alone am the theme taught in the different Vedas. I am the revealer of the Upanishads, the Vedanta and I alone am the real knower of the Vedas. For Me there is neither merit nor demerit. I suffer no destruction. I have neither birth nor body, sense organs, nor the mind-intellect equipment”.
If He is without any form, why should He say here that He is Indestructible. Because He is in human form aptly called as NARAYANA, since eternity, He is declaring that nobody or no power can destroy Him. All the Scriptures like Vedas, Upanishads, Vedanta, Bible, Quoran, etc., are revealed only by Him and nobody else. He alone knows all the Scriptures as He is the sole author.
TEXT - 25
“By this, one attains the knowledge that destroys the endless experience of change (rebirths). Therefore, having experienced this, one attains the fruit of liberation (Kaivalya); indeed one attains Kaivalya”.
Thus the Creator Brahma says the only way to attain redemption or liberation or Kaivalya, is to know the Paramapurusha and to completely surrender to Him for His complete guidance in one’s life to lead to liberation (Mukti) from the bondages of this world. One has himself to empty completely his self and allow the Spirit of Paramapurusha (Holy Ghost) to fill him. Only then he will be led by God. All selfs will die but only one Self will not die, and that is the Self of Paramapurusha which should fill us all. Then only there will be perfect union between us, His Bride (UMA) and Him (PARAMAPURUSHA, SHIVA).
May the Almighty God, The PARAMAPURUSHA, whom people call by many names like Shiva, Vishnu, Jesus, Allah, etc., lead us in His way to the total redemption of our body, soul and spirit, without death, to be forever, with Him and in Him. He is no other than the One who has come down and is living with us in our midst, Gurudev Lahari Krishna.