April 18, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Atma-Gyan: the only way out of sorrow

3. Ishavasya Upanishad II

The Nepal Weekly
February 22, 2022

The Atma-Gyan or the knowledge of soul, according to Ishabasya Upanishad, leads one to a state where humans are no more slaves to their emotions. It lifts persons to heights of great enlightenment and xwisdom from where persons see existence of the Almighty in every living being and other sentients under the universe and feel from the pull and push of hatred, sorrow, distress and physical comfort.

Love for all and compassion for all ! Hate for none ! Witnessing the whole of physical world in Atma and feeling the presence of God in all particles of the physical world ! These would be the ultimate consequences of Atma-Gyan. because persons with this knowledge will comprehend Sarbatmya Darshan –the whole composition of philosophical regime.

As for the characteristics of the Atma, the Upanishad says “it is one, remains stable all the time while being more dynamic than mind in motion, sense organs cannot compete with it in race, spreads wider than the sky throughout the universe, appears remote for those who do not know but is closely in heart and accessible to those who know, resides in and out of all worldly things. Wind operates because of being powered by its presence.

Those who do not know Atma are bound to go against it and will be forced into a specific space in universe called Asurya Lok where they are subject to cycles of rebirth and death innumerable times.

Having clarified about the Atma-Knowledge, the Ishabasya Upanishad goes on structuring the state of those who acquire knowledge and is also engaged in action. Those who singly focus on action remain in darkness. Similarly those who concentrate on only acquiring knowledge also end up in areas where light does not exist. Engaging in rituals of action and considering the same as the end is actually a state of non-knowledge. Referring to the textual knowledge and remaining attached to it alone would keep people in darkness. Both ways, as per the doctrines explained in the Ishabasya Upanishad, do not lead up to the salvation.

Balancing between engagement in action and rituals related to it and knowledge of books is essential to enable humans to feel the state of having Atma-Gyan. The point is also emphasized in the Geeta, a famous dialogue-scripture written in Sanskrit and composing great knowledge related to Karma – Action or Duty – and Gyan – knowledge or wisdom. Lord Krishna advises in it warrior Arjun to do his duty (fighting for justice) and not expect any return from it while understanding the core of knowledge that Atma could neither be killed nor reborn.

The hallmark of Ishabasya Upanishad is its emphasis on balanced approach to duty (termed and symbolized as Karya Brahma) and knowledge (referred to as Asambhooti). Three paths for (action, ritual and knowledge) could automatically open after this : those who are entitled to specific duty should focus on it, those who aspire after heavenly pleasure could devote themselves to worshipping Gods and Goddesses of their choice and those who expect to have salvation should opt for Atma-Gyan.

By Shirish B. Pradhan

(See corporatenepal.com for Nepali version)