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Upanishad Stories

Discussion in 'Stories (Fiction)' started by kaluputti, Sep 10, 2020.

  1. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Vedanta explains the three states of reality in our lives through many upanishadic stories. Mandukya Upanishad says life is but a dream. When we dream, it appears so real but not when we wake up. When we are in the waking state, this entire universe seems to be real but disappears when we dream. I would like to share the story of Janaks's dream from the upanishad.

    Raja Janaka ruled over the country of Videha. He was once reclining on a sofa. It was the middle of the day in the hot month of June. He had a short nap for a few seconds. He dreamt that a rival king with a large army had invaded his country and slew his soldiers and ministers. He was driven out of his palace barefooted and without any clothes covering him.

    Janaka found himself roaming about in a jungle. He was thirsty and hungry. He reached a small town where he begged for food. No one paid any attention to his entreaties. He reached a place where some people were distributing food to the beggars. Each beggar had an earthen bowl to receive rice water. Janaka had no bowl and so they turned him out to bring a bowl. He went in search of a vessel. He requested other beggars to lend him a bowl, but none would part with his bowl. At last Janaka found a broken piece of a bowl. Now he ran to the spot where rice water was distributed. All the foodstuff had been already distributed.

    Raja Janaka was very much tired on account of long travelling, hunger and thirst and heat of the summer. He stretched himself near a fireplace where foodstuff was cooked. Here some one took pity over Janaka. He gave him some rice water which was found at the bottom of a vessel. Janaka took it with intense joy and just as he put it to his lips, two large bulls tumbled fighting over him. The bowl was broken to pieces. The Raja woke up with great fear.

    Janaka was trembling violently. He was in a great dilemma as to which of his two states was real. All the time he was in dream, he never thought that it was an illusion and that the misery of hunger and thirst and his other troubles were unreal.

    The queen asked Janaka, “O Lord! What is the matter with you?” The only words which Janaka spoke were, “Which is real, this or that?” From that time he left all his work and became silent. He uttered nothing but the above words.

    The ministers thought that Janaka was suffering from some disease. It was announced by them that anyone who cured the Raja will be richly rewarded and those who fail to cure the Raja will be made life prisoners. Great physicians and specialists began to pour in and tried their luck, but no one could answer the query of the Raja. Hundreds of Brahmins well versed in the science of curing diseases were put in the state prison.

    Among the prisoners was also the father of the great sage Ashtavakra. When Ashtavakra was a boy of only ten years of age, he was told by his mother that his father was a state prisoner because he failed to cure Raja Janaka. He at once started to see Janaka. He asked the Raja if he desired to hear the solution of his questions in a brief and few words as the question itself is put or full details of his dream experience may be recited. Janaka did not like to have his humiliating dream repeated in presence of a big gathering. He consented to receive a brief answer.

    Ashtavakra then whispered into the ear of Janaka, “Neither this nor that is real.” Raja Janaka at once became joyful. His confusion was removed. Raja Janaka then asked Ashtavakra, “What is real?” The dialogue that followed came to be another important text called 'Ashtavakra Gita.'

    Speakingtree
     

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  2. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Story of Shvetaketu
    From Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6

    Shvetaketu was the only son of Rishi Uddalaka. When he turned twelve, he was asked by his father to go and get his education from a Gurukula. When Shvetaketu returned from the Gurukula after finishing his twelve years rigorous training in all the branches of knowledge, his father Uddalaka found arrogance in his expression.

    Once Uddalaka called him by his side and asked him, “Shvetaketu, my boy, have you, ever sought out the knowledge of that by which the unheard can be heard, the unseen can be seen, the unknowable can be known?” Shvetaketu was shocked. He had no idea about what his father had asked. So he requested his father to give him this knowledge.

    Uddalaka told Shvetaketu, “Son, by knowing one lump of clay you may learn about everything made of clay; the only difference between such things is the name, a result of speech. But the truth is that all such things are of the same substance. Likewise, by knowing one chunk of gold, you may learn about everything made of gold; the only difference between such things is the name, a result of speech. But the truth is that all such things are of the same substance. And the same is true for even the simplest tools made of iron. This, my son, is the knowledge of which I speak.”

    Uddalaka thus continued saying, “Dear child, in the beginning of things there was pure Being, one without a second. It willed to become many. Then, it manifested itself in the form of fire and from fire came water and from there came food. This way this rich variety of things came into existence by permutation and combination of these forms. Then life appeared, and among the living beings there came man with his varied powers and functions.”

    Shvetaketu stopped his father from going ahead and asked him to explain where a man would do during sleep.

    “The man becomes one with the Spirit, the eternal Being. Man’s mind is like a beast tied to a peg by a long rope. It turns round and round and can not get away. When a man dies his power of speech is merged into his mind, his mind is absorbed in the prana, the prana is merged into the light, and the light merges in the power beyond. That power is subtle. It pervades the universe. That is the Truth. That is the Spirit. That Thou art, O Shvetaketu.”

    Shvetaketu was not satisfied and wanted to know more about that all pervading Power. Here Uddalaka explains to him beautifully about the One and the Many by giving examples.

    He says, “Dear child, bees bring droplets of honey from various flowers and store in the hive. Once in the hive, do the droplets know from which flower they came? Need they know it? So too all these beings when merge into the ocean of Being, they know not whence they came. All become one when they have merged in the ocean of consciousness, of the One Being. That is subtle. That pervades everything. That is the Atman. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.”

    Then Uddalaka gives the example of all rivers merging into the ocean and losing their individual identity. Then he gives another example in which he explains that by cutting a part of the tree the whole tree does not die. Only that part which is cut dies. Thus that which is deprived of its life dies but the life itself does not die. The power by which life lives eternally is the Spirit. That thou art O Shvetaketu.”

    Shvetaketu listened to his father attentively and said: “My respected teachers must not have known this, for if they had, they surely would have told me. Won’t you please give me more of this knowledge, Father?” And Uddalaka agreed to do so. And we see further dialogues between Uddalaka and Shvetaketu in the following manner.

    Uddalaka: “Bring me a fruit from the banyan tree.”

    Shvetaketu: “Here is one, Father.”

    Uddalaka: “Break it open.”

    Shvetaketu: “It is broken, Father.”

    Uddalaka: “What do you see there?”

    Shvetaketu: “These tiny seeds.”

    Uddalaka: “Now break one of them open.”

    Shvetaketu: “It is broken, Father.”

    Uddalaka: “What do you see there?” Shvetaketu: “Nothing, Father.”

    Uddalaka: “My son, you know there is a subtle essence which you do not perceive, but through that essence the truly immense banyan tree exists. Believe it, my son. Everything that exists has its Self in that subtle essence. It is Truth. It is the Self, and you, Shvetaketu, are That (tattvamasi).”

    Shvetaketu further pleaded with his father to teach him more, and Uddalaka continued:

    Uddalaka: “Bring a pinch of salt my son.”

    Shvetaketu: “Here, I have brought the salt Father.”

    Uddalaka: “Place this salt in water, and come back to me in the morning.”

    The son did as he was told.

    Uddalaka (in the morning): “Bring me the salt you put in the water last night.”

    Shvetaketu (after looking): “Father, I cannot find it.”

    Uddalaka: “Of course not; it has dissolved. Now taste the water from the surface. How does it taste?”

    Shvetaketu: “It’s salty.”

    Uddalaka: “Taste the water from the middle of the bowl. How does it taste?”

    Shvetaketu: “It’s salty.”

    Uddalaka: “Now taste the water from the bottom. How does it taste?”

    Shvetaketu: “It’s salty.”

    Uddalaka: “Go, throw it away and come back to me.”

    Shvetaketu did so, and returned.

    Shvetaketu: “But, father, although I have thrown it away, the salt remains.”

    Uddalaka: “Likewise, though you cannot hear or perceive or know the subtle essence, it is here. Everything that exists has its Self in that subtle essence. It is Truth. It is the Self, and you, Shvetaketu, are That (tattvamasi).”
    Shared from upanishads.org
     
  3. PushpavalliSrinivasan

    PushpavalliSrinivasan IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for sharing. I have read Kathopanishad written by swami Chinmayananda.
     
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  4. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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  5. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    In yoga Indra is more than a sky god who makes sudden loud noises, but is a spiritual seeker too. The story relating to the god Indra and the demon Virochana reveals that they both had heard stories about a divine Self. If you mastered its secrets, it was rumored, you would attain all your desires. Wanting to know more, the two of them sought out the great guru Prajapati and served him diligently. And when their probationary period was over the adept explained, “The Self is the one who sees through your eyes.”

    “The Self is the one you see through your eyes.”
    Neither disciple got it. They figured they had heard wrong; Prajapati must have said, “The Self is the one you see through your eyes.” Realizing his students hadn’t understood, the master decided not to waste any more time with such unpromising pupils and told them to look in a mirror and they would see their Self.

    Peering at their reflections, the two agreed: “My body is my Self.” From now on they would worship their bodies, taking the best possible care of them, doing their exercise programs and their hatha yoga and eating only the best foods. Then all their desires would be fulfilled. And they went on their merry way.

    Well, to this day Virochana and the rest of the demon race still believe this. But halfway home Indra had second thoughts. “Hey, wait a minute—that can’t be right,” he mused. “The body is subject to sickness, old age, and death. It can’t be the immortal Self!” He quickly returned to his guru and told him that this teaching didn’t make sense.

    “You’re right, Indra! I’m pleased you passed my test,” Prajapati responded. “The real Self is the one you experience in dreams. That is the reality that lies beyond fear and death.”

    Indra was delighted with this information. It was much more logical. Even if your eyes are blind, you can still see in dreams; even if your legs are lame, you can still walk in dreams. And the yogis say this dream self continues to exist even after the physical body dies. But halfway home Indra again started having reservations. “What about nightmares?” he wondered. “The dream self is subject to pain, fear, doubt, and despair. It can’t be the real Self.” He returned to his guru and expressed his misgivings.

    “Can’t fool you for a moment, can I?” Prajapati laughed. “The real Self is the one you experience in the state of deep sleep.”

    This actually made more sense. In deep sleep you’re completely beyond pain and fear. But once again, when he was halfway home Indra had another thought. “Wait a minute! What’s the use of remaining unconscious? I might as well be annihilated. I don’t see any value in this teaching.” So he returned to his master a fourth time.

    “The Self is none of these states,” Prajapati revealed. “The Self is the one who perceives these states, but who exists beyond them, illuminating them like lightning illuminates the sky. Find the one who sees with your eyes, hears with your ears, and thinks with your thoughts. That is your immortal Self. The great masters meditate on this pure inner being and attain the highest goal of life. Shake off all evils like a horse shakes dust out of its mane, and free yourself from body-consciousness like the moon frees itself from an eclipse. Establish your awareness in the undying reality in your heart.”

    At last Indra was satisfied. He returned home to meditate on the innermost Self.-Chandogya Upanishad.
     
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  6. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear @kaluputti madam,

    Thank you for sharing these gems. Please do continue to share - I certainly read them and hopefully ruminate as I wait for the next one.
     
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  7. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Srama, I am really very happy to know that you like this. As you said, these are gems from the haram/necklace of our vedas. I don't get tired of reading them repeatedly, wondering about the way these pearls of wisdom were passed on through interesting stories, or else they would have disappeared long back. Hence I decided to share here, one of favorite forums. Thank you for the encouragement.
     
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  8. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Da! Da! Da!

    Once all the three descendants of Prajapati - the gods, the men, and the asuras, lived with him for some time as students.

    One day, the gods approached Prajapati and said, “Teach us, Sir!”

    In reply, Prajapati uttered one syllable, ‘Da.’ Then he said, “Have you understood?”

    They answered, “Yes, we have understood. You said to us, Damayata–Be self-controlled.”

    “Yes,” agreed Prajapati, “you have understood.”

    Then the men went to Prajapati and said, “Teach us, Sir.”

    Prajapati uttered the same syllable, ‘Da.’ Then he asked the men, “Have you understood?”

    They answered, “Yes, we have understood. You said to us, Datta–Be charitable.”

    “Yes,” agreed Prajapati, “you have understood.”

    Finally it was the turn of the asuras. They went to Prajapati and said “Teach us, Sir.”

    Prajapati uttered the same syllable, ‘Da.’ Then he said, “Have you understood?”

    They said, “Yes, we have understood. You told us Dayadhvam–Be compassionate.”

    “Yes,” agreed Prajapati, “you have understood.” - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.2

    Every time the storm cloud thunders it says ‘Da! Da! Da!’ And that reminds us to be self-controlled, to be charitable and to be compassionate.

    For the divine part in each individual, the law given by Prajapati is to be self-controlled. Without self-control one gets caught up by the splendors and riches and becomes egoistic. For the human part in each individual the law given is to be charitable, be generous and self-giving. Without this one gets completely caught up by one’s limitedness. For the demoniac part in each individual the law given is to be compassionate. Without this one becomes the slayer of oneself.

    Self-control, self-giving and compassion, indeed, are three essential disciplines of spiritual progress.
    Source: upanishads.org
     
  9. gorgeous23

    gorgeous23 Silver IL'ite

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    these are good, please keep sharing.

    i recently bought a book in hindi : upanishadon ki kahaniyan, but the translation was rather poor and the authors insights ( pre conceived notions?) dominated the stories. i couldnt read beyond a few chapters, i was totally put off.
     
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  10. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Thank you, gorgeous23. I started this only with that intention, hope with divine grace to continue sharing.
     

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