July 25, 2024, Thursday
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Consumption with a sense of sacrifice: the formula to success

3. Ishavasya Upanishad I

The Nepal Weekly
February 15, 2022

The Ishavasya, a book – Upanishad – gifted to humanity through sages’ oral traditions right from the remote past – Vedic times – is a digest with 18 rhymes which lucidly portrays the Atman – the Soul. Its message is focused on what happens if one is committed to conscious knowledge. It also states the consequences people face when they dedicate themselves only to action – the duty. According to Ishabasya Upanishad, while knowledge and action are important in life and both should be adopted by human beings, their consequences differ in various ways. 

The first rhyme of the Upanishad is significant from the viewpoint of self –knowledge. It urges people to understand that all creatures or sentients and things in the world possess God in them. Therefore, people should consume or use things in the world with a sense of sacrifice and conscious knowledge that none could monopolize them.

God is omnipresent and resides in all things in the world – creatures, vegetables, animate animals and inanimate objects; all things humans consume are gifts of God. None could claim monopoly over them. Consumption of things, according to Ishabasya, should be done with a sense of sacrifice or people should consume keeping in view their need only and the thought of owning or future use should not direct one to store or save. The Ishabasya suggests not to consume more than what one needs. Its advisory is: do not store the excess and do not attach yourself to the saving; just realize others also do have equal right to access what is excess to you.

The Ishabasya Upanishad underlines the need to live full life doing one’s duty or being engaged in action. All those who pride in being human beings should be aware that they should lead an action-focused life without having any personalized attachment to it. The second rhyme of the Ishabasya succinctly mentions: do your duty with no wish for any return and never allow the duty to bind yourself. The message, in brief, is, as pointed out in the Geeta, “doing one’s duty all the time with a sense of indifference or no attachment to expectations.”

While talking about the importance of action or difficulty in living without doing duty, the Upanishad mentions a word of caution as well.  The action or duty should be positivistic; it should not be negativistic; go for auspicious action and drop out all ideas of inauspicious acts. Those who understand all these concepts and practices related to duty and action realize self and acquire knowledge to free themselves from the cycle of death and rebirth. Failure to comprehend this will lead to a state in which people consider their body and bodily pleasure as the ultimate and they can never get rid of the cycle of rebirth.

Highlighting the omnipresence of the Soul, the Ishabashya Upanishad advises all to realize the Soul, its presence, dynamism and universality and commit to duty, positive and forward looking, without having any sort of expectations and maintaining a sense of indifference towards the consequences of the action.

By Shirish B. Pradhan

(See corporatenepal.com for Nepali version)