Author: Shivashankar Rao (Bangaloor, India)
The Eeshaavaasya upanishat which belongs to the shukla YajurvEda is one of the smallest upanishats and it contains only 18 verses.
Several terms used in this, like vidya and avidya, sambhooti and asambhooti have been elusive of the correct meanings and so, several conflicting interpretations have been made.
“Every thing in this universe is the abode of the Lord” – the upanishat begins like this.
” So, enjoy only things given to you to the extent given in a spirit of detachment and do not try to take away some thing which belongs to others” it continues….
The Isha Upanishad follows the principle of reconciliation of extremes such as:
1) The Conscious Lord and phenomenal Nature.
2) Renunciation and Enjoyment
3) Action in Nature and freedom in the Soul.
4) The One Stable Brahman and the Multiple Movement.
5) Being and Becoming
6) The Active lord and indifferent Akshara Brahman.
7) Vidya and Avidya.
8) Birth and Non-birth.
9)Works and Knowledge.
The Upanishat doesn’t glorify any extreme over the other. Renunciation is to go to the extreme, but it should be integrated with enjoyment. Action has to be complete, but so has there to be freedom of soul from its works. And while unity is the goal, it has to be brought about through experience of the multiplicity. This is much unlike later thought where God, Renunciation, Quietism, the One, Cessation of Birth, the Knowledge, were praised and the concepts of the World, Enjoyment, Action, the Many, Birth, the Ignorance were subdued, which culminated in Illusionism and the thought that existence in the world is a snare and a meaningless burden imposed on the soul by itself, which must be ended asap. The concept of seeing multiple things as one is not an insignificant one and is the basis of much science that is prevalent today. As Aldous Huxley wrote: “All science, is the reduction of multiplicities to unities.”