‘Upanishad’ is not (just) the name of a literature #2


Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

These are quick notes for Brahma Sutra Bhaashya (authored by Sri Shankaracharya) classes that were taught by Swami Paramasukhananda, which I was a student of during 2011-2013. What I feel like recording I record. They are not a substitute for live classes, but done as my cogitation.

For other such short notes, check – https://vairaagya.wordpress.com/tag/brahmasutranotes/

  • Prasad.


‘Upanishad’ is not (just) the name of a literature #2

In the previous post , we have seen the first meaning of the word Upanishad –

“Upanishad = Upa+ni+sad”, stands for that clear and doubtless and assimilated Atma jnaanam (ni), knowledge about oneself, which is to be gained by going near to a qualified Guru. who is a shrotriya and brahmanishta  (signified by the word upa), by which human suffering is destroyed (signified by sad).

We now look at the second meaning of the word Upanishad.

The splitting of the word Upanishad remains the same. Upanishad=Upa+ni+sad (उपनिषद्=उप+नि+सद्). However the individual subwords have different means.

The word upa : Upa here means “that which is near”, in our case, the Atma. The Atma is the one which is most nearest to the saadhaka, because it is himself. Atma is the true nature of the seeker, but this is not known to him, that’s all. Therefore Upa signifies Atma, the true nature of oneself. In our context, this also extends to Atma-jnaanam, knowledge of the one’s true nature.

The word Ni: Ni here means neechaih avasthaanam (नीचैः अवस्थानं), “sitting under the feet of”. The mumukshu, the seeker for Moksha, he who desires Atma jnaanam, is to sit at the feet of the Guru and learn this. This word signifies humility (विनयं), Guru-seva (service to Guru). It also signifies that the individual has understood the futility of every other attainment, which are all of a temporal nature, and hence has finally come to the Guru with the conviction that he wants only Atma jnaanam as he knows that is the only cure for the problem of Samsaara.

The word ‘sad’: The word ‘sad’  is to be understood here as “saadayati (सादयति)“, “That which brings about, that which makes the individual gain”. What is this gain? It is Moksha, freedom from samsaara, the unalloyed happiness that is the same as the nature of oneself. By the knowledge of oneself, one becomes freed from the clutches of all emotional problems, starting from desire etc. This freedom is gained since the individual now understands clearly that he is infinite, whereas the problems all arise because of assumed finiteness of oneself (such as “I am the body, I am the mind, etc.”).

Thus the second meaning of the word ‘Upanishad’ is as follows.

“Upanishad=Upa+ni+sad” means that knowledge of the most nearest thing (upa), Atma, which is to be gained by sitting at the feet of the Guru (ni) and because of which one gains the complete fulfillment and freedom from Samsaara (sad) “.

The word Upanishad has one more meaning as given by Shankaracharya, which we shall see next.



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