The secrets of the Upanishads
Life Positive|December 2021
Vanitha Vaidialingam explains the nature and purpose of the Upanishads, which are eternally relevant for those who have the thirst to plunge into them
Vanitha Vaidialingam
Are there any secrets in the Upanishads? Well, the answer is both yes and no. The state of mind of the person approaching the Upanishads determines the depth to which they can understand the teachings. So, while every teaching in the Upanishads is an open teaching, the spiritual maturity of the person is the key that unlocks the relevant layer of meaning.

Structure of the Upanishads

Structurally, every Upanishad is a series of dialogues. The dialogue may be between a student and a teacher or between two masters debating a point or a group of people questioning a single individual.

There are instances in the Upanishads where a teacher refuses to answer a question raised by a student because the student does not, as yet, have the maturity to understand the answer or the student is asking all the wrong questions.

Content of the Upanishads

As stated earlier, the maturity level of the reader will enable them to relate to the content of the Upanishads. Each Upanishad attempts to engage the audience in a spiritual discourse that will raise the awareness of the reader and assist in reaching the goal of Self-actualisation. As the reader rises through the different levels of understanding, the Upanishads will provide newer meanings and renewed understandings on the subject of Brahman.

The Upanishads underscore the point that “it is okay to be who you are, so long as you have the spiritual drive to get where you want to be.” It recognises that human beings are at various stages of spiritual development; every stage is a step in the right direction and, therefore, must be encouraged, supported, and stimulated.

However, the Upanishads do not compromise on the need for dharma (duty), karma (right action) and moksha (Self-actualisation). Each one—whether one is a king or a recluse— must perform their duties and take their responsibilities seriously. They must not hurt or harm any living or non-living creature wantonly. They must learn to act without attachment to the fruits of action. They must make all efforts to acquire the knowledge of the scriptures and internalise the learnings so as to realise the ultimate truth of this universe. Learning that does not stimulate curiosity about the truth is useless. They must build within themselves the ability to identify the learned teacher who can lead them on to the path of salvation. Once they have identified such a person, they must show respect to and faith in such a person and serve such a master.

The purpose of the Upanishads

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