Want to understand Upanishads? Rear Sri Aurobindo’s books on Upanishads to begin your quest
The Upanishads, Hindu spiritual quests or the texts often attributed to the name Vedantic, are for those who are inquisitive, alert, and truly want to understand the reality behind one’s flesh-and-blood existence, and also the world around them. The greatest of the seers in the world, renowned and revered Indian saints, speakers, philosophers, sages and thought leaders on a global scale, anyone who has achieved success in communicating thoughts on a grand level quoted the shlokas from the Upanishads on many occasions. On a personal level, I have been studying the Upanishads for a few years now. However, every time I flip to some random page or even go on reading in perfect order, I find many new things that push me into a thoughtful corner and compel me into a melancholic contemplation about everything – me, mine, we, ours, who, when, how, what, and all those questions of different magnitudes.
Philosophical discourse takes an all-new height in the Upanishads. Upanishadik thoughts are not for those who are totally ignorant or unknown of the questions of the soul, self, selflessness, the world, Brahma, Brahman, individuality being part of the Supreme and, at the same time, being the Supreme oneself. You see, these might turn someone’s entire assumption of the world upside down and therefore, proper guidance is necessary for those who are new to learning the secrets of the Vedas, contracted into the versions we know as Upanishads. Let’s take an example:
Isha Upanishad, Shloka 5:
“That moves and That moves not; That is far and the same is near; That is within all this and That also is outside all this.”
(Aurobindo 4: 1965)
The text and the translation by the great representative of Indian wisdom on a global stage, Sri Aurobindo, may bewilder a newcomer. However, the explanations supplied in the book, on page 25, may make someone understand the hidden meaning or the reality behind such philosophical imagery. So, reading the Upanishads and also trying to read the explanations by those who have studied these Hindu texts deeply will be helpful for anyone who is inquisitive and eager to learn more.
Studying the Upanisads may open one’s internal eyes to reality which is hitherto hidden from us as we indulge in various humane activities and enjoy our lives doing so. In a way, for those who understand, it might be like getting the pill that NEO chose in order to wake up from a deep sleep and observe the real world with nothingness and everything in an imaginary existence – existing inside and manifesting outside.
It’d also be a good idea to read enlightened beings like Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Paramhansa Yogananda, Sri Aurobindo, Adi Sankaracharya and others you may find convenient before entering into the world of Upanisads. These saints invoke Upanisads and Vedic texts more than often to make their arguments forth in the best possible way. And therefore, reading these scholars before exactly reading the sacred Hindu texts soaked in the ocean of philosophy and spiritual quest may be a great idea and a great first step.
Reading ancient and challenging Hindu texts may be good for one’s spiritual yearnings. Moreover, it may also be an opportunity to challenge one’s comprehension capabilities – how much and how far can you comprehend? What are the subjects you can understand? What are the topics you can get across? What are the issues that you can measure, grasp and disseminate?
The books by Sri Aurobindo on Upanishads
The book The Brahadaranyaka Upanisad by Sri Ramakrishna Math
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
Easy and Convenient Edition of Adi Sankaracharya’s thoughts and writings
Opinion piece by Ashish for The Best Books
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