More than 2700 years ago, a student asked his/her teacher the following important questions:
– By whose inspiration (or power) my mind thinks many things?
– By whose power my vital forces (including breathing) function?
– By whose power I can speak? and
– By whose power my eyes can see and my ears can hear?
The teacher gave the following answer:
“It is the Ear of the ears, Mind of the minds, Speech of the speeches, Vital Force of all vital forces, and the Eye of the eyes. By knowing It wise people become immortal.
Eyes cannot see It, speech cannot describe It, and mind cannot comprehend It fully.
I don’t know how to teach about It. No one showed me how to teach about It.
Wise people have told us that It is different from what we know and above the unknown.
We call It as Brahman.
Brahman is the One, whom
– speech cannot describe, but because of whom we can speak,
– mind cannot comprehend It, but because of whom mind can comprehend,
– eyes cannot see It, but because of whom eyes can see,
– ears cannot listen to It, but because of whom ears can listen and
– vital forces cannot move It around, but because of whom vital forces function.
Whom people worship is only a symbol of Brahman.
Now the teacher talks about “knowing Brahman.”
– If you think that you have known Brahman fully, then definitely you have understood very little about Brahman.
– If you think that ‘Brahman is a part in me and in all others,’ then you have to rethink about Brahman.
– I cannot say that “I have known Brahman fully” and I cannot say that “I do not know Brahman at all” because I know Brahman. Among us, those who have known Brahman know why I say, “I don’t know Brahman and I know Brahman.”
– In the case of Brahman, one who realizes that “I cannot know Brahman fully” knows It and one who thinks that “I have understood Brahman fully” does not know It.
– Brahman is known when It is realized in every state of mind. One who realizes Brahman attains immortality. Through Brahman one gets mental strength to know Brahman and through that knowledge one attains immortality.
– If you know Brahman in this life, then your life becomes meaningful and blessed. If you do not know Brahman, then you face Brahman in Its terrible form such as obstacles, suffering, frustration, helplessness, stress, old age, disease, and death.
– Wise people see that Brahman has become everything and with that knowledge they acquire infinite inner power to face all the challenges of life including death and become immortal.
Teacher tells a story to enhance his teachings about Brahman:
Once demons (human weaknesses) and devas (angles or stronger people among humans) had a fight and the devas won the battle. They were all proud of themselves and boasting about their strength. They probably had a party to celebrate their victory.
At that time, a stranger appeared at a distance. No one could recognize the stranger. They probably were suspicious and worried. All asked the fire god to go and find out who the stranger was.
The fire god ran to the stranger. The stranger asked, “Who are you? The fire god was surprised to find out that the stranger did not know him. He said, “I am Agni! (The fire god) and I am also known in the world as “Jataveda.”
The stranger asked, “What is your power?” The fire god said, “I can burn everything on this earth.”
The stranger threw a little piece of straw and asked the fire god to burn it. The fire god tried with all its power, but could not burn the piece of straw. He was embarrassed. He looked down and with a heavy heart returned to the devas and said, “I could not find out who that stranger was.”
All the devas then asked the wind god to find out who the stranger was. The wind god ran to the stranger. The stranger asked, “Who are you? The wind god was surprised to find out that the stranger did not know him. He said, “I am Vayu! (The wind god) and I am also known in the world as “Matarishwa.”
The stranger asked, “What is your power?” The wind god said, “I can blow everything that exist on this earth.”
The stranger threw a little piece of straw and asked the wind god to blow it. The wind god tried with all its power, but could not blow the piece of straw. He was embarrassed. He looked down and with a heavy heart returned to the devas and said, “I could not find out who that stranger was.”
(One can relate to the sholkas of Kathopanishad and Bhagavd Gita: Fire cannot burn Atman (individual soul), wind cannot blow it up, water cannot drown it, and weapons cannot destroy it.)
All the devas asked their leader Indra to find out who the stranger was. As Indra approached the stranger, the stranger disappeared. Then, Indra saw in the sky the Goddess of the Universe, Mother Uma with all her glories. Indra asked, “Mother! Who was the stranger?” Mother Uma said, “It was Brahman by whose power you have become victorious.”
Thus, Indra understood that everything is happening because of the power of Brahman.
Since the fire god, the wind god and Indra were in close proximity of Brahman, they attained more respect than other gods. Among these three Indra is considered superior because he understood that It was Brahman.
Concluding remarks and a peace chant:
The realization of Brahman happens like a flash of a lightening or within a blink of an eye.
When our mind starts understanding Brahman, then it gets attracted to It and makes a resolve to realize It.
Brahman is a great attractor. It is blissful. One who realizes Brahman becomes blissful and all beings adore such a person.
After listening to these teachings, a student requested the teacher, “Please tell us what Upanishad is.” The teacher said, “This is what Upanishad is. It is the knowledge of Brahman. What I said is this profound knowledge of Brahman.”
The knowledge of Brahman is supported by three pillars: austerity (joyfully bearing all the suffering and facing the difficulties that come to realize Brahman), control of the senses and mind, and performing one’s responsibilities as an offering to Brahman.
Brahman is the abode of the Truth (the Ultimate Reality). One who realizes Brahman attains the highest state in this life.
Peace chant of Kenopanishad:
Om! May my speech, vital forces, eyes, ears, and all senses get fully nourished (so, I become fit to realize Brahman)! May I do not deny Brahman which has been described in the Upanishad! May Brahman does not deny me! May my relationship with Brahman remains unbroken! I am committed to realize Brahman. May I acquire all the virtues which have been described in the Upanishads (which are needed to realize Brahman)!
Om Peace! Peace! Peace!