Introduction to the Isha-Upanisad

Introduction to the Isha-Upanisad

Last week, we touched upon the glory of the Upanisad by quoting the words of Swami Vivek-Anand and discussed the problems inherent in translating the profound Samskrut thoughts or concepts  into English. Today, we see for ourselves how hard the task is. 

In our next article, we shall venture to provide our own interpretation of the introductory verse of the Isha Upanisad. This great Upanisad is also called the Isha-Vasya Upanisad because the first verse of this Upanisad begins with the concept of Isha-Vasya or the Vasya of Isha. Very simplistically, Isha means the Supreme Entity of the Universe (more commonly called God in everyday English) and Vasya in its simplistic form means the abode or dwelling. So the simplest translation of Isha-Vasya is the dwelling of the Supreme Being.

Isha-Upanisad has only 18 verses but they are extraordinarily profound. Read what Mahatma Gandhi said about the first verse of the Isha-Upanisad:

  • I have now come to the final conclusion that even if all the Upanisads and all other scriptures happen, all of a sudden, to be reduced to ashes and if only the first verse in the Isha-Upanisad were left intact in the memory of the Hindus, Hinduism would live for ever.”

We respectfully and humbly beg to differ with Mahatma Gandhi.

Because to us, it is the Second Verse of Isha-Upanisad that presents the very essence of the distinctive approach of the Isha-Upanisad and in this Second Verse, we see the essence of the Eternal Dharma.

Remember what the word उप नि सद = Upa-Ni-Sad means. It means Sit Very Near. We request readers to sit near us as we venture into reflections on what is contained in the Isha-Upanisad. Also remember what we wrote about the spirit of the Upanisad and the spirit of the Eternal Dharma itself – अभय = Abhaya or the Absence of Fear.

We shall defer the discussions of the First and Second verse of Isha-Upanisad to a later date. Our first venture is to discuss the Santi-Mantra or the Introductory Verse of the Isha-Upanisad. We do so in our next article.

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