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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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    The Highest Learning.
    Once Narada approached the sage Sanatkumara and requested him to show him the path of knowledge and teach him about the highest truth.

    “Tell me what you know, and then I will teach you what is beyond that,” thus said Sanatkumara to Narada.

    Then Narada told him with all humility, “I know the four Vedas and the epics, I have studied grammar, rituals, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, psychology, the fine arts and various other secular subjects; but all this knowledge has not helped me to know the Self. I have heard from spiritual teachers like you that one who realizes the Self goes beyond sorrow. I am lost in sorrow. Please teach me how to go beyond.”

    There is a very long dialogue between Narada and Sanatkumar through which Sanatkumar reveals to Narada that all that he knows is mere names. To go beyond, one must know what is greater than the name. Then he reveals that speech is greater than name, mind is greater than speech, will is greater than mind, consciousness is greater than will, meditation is greater than consciousness, understanding is greater than meditation, power is greater than understanding, food is greater than power, water is greater than food, light or heat is greater than water, ether is greater than light, and Atman or the Spirit is greater than ether and is the substratum of everything else. Man is always impelled to do things on account of joy or the pleasure that he gets out of the things that he does. No one acts or does anything unless motivated by some kind of pleasure or joy. But it is the Infinite that is the source of abiding joy because it is not subject to change. Therefore one must seek to know the Infinite.

    With this Sanatkumar now teaches Narada the nature of the Infinite. “Where one realizes the indivisible unity of life, sees nothing else, hears nothing else, knows nothing else, that is the Infinite. The Infinite is beyond death, but the finite cannot escape death.”

    At this point Narada raises a question, “On what does the Infinite depend, O Venerable One?”

    To this Sanatkumar replied by expounding, “Dear Narada, the Infinite depends on its own glory, no not even that. In the world people think they can attain glory by having cows and horses, elephants and gold, family and servants, fields and mansions. But I do not call that glory, for here one thing depends on another. But the Infinite is utterly independent. The Infinite is above and below, before and behind, to the right and to the left. I am all this. The Self is above and below, before and behind, to the right and to the left. I am all this. One who meditates on the Self and realizes the Self sees the Self everywhere, and rejoices in the Self. Such a one lives in freedom and is at home wherever he goes. He discovers that everything in the cosmos – energy and space, fire and water, names and forms, birth and death, mind and will, word and deed, mantra and meditation – all come from the Self. He goes beyond decay and death, beyond separateness and sorrow. But those who pursue the finite are blind to the Self and live in bondage. Therefore, O Narada, control the senses and purify the mind. In a pure mind there is a constant awareness of the Self. Where there is constant awareness of the Self, freedom ends bondage and joy ends sorrow.”

    Thus the sage Sanatkumar taught the pure Narada to go beyond bondage, beyond sorrow, beyond darkness, to the light of the Self.--Chandogya Upanishad
     
  2. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    Wow! These are really good and very thought provoking! I had read the first two stories before. One is the start of the Ashtavakra Gita. The story of Uddalaka is part of Vasistha Yoga. The others are new to me. Please do continue to share more of these.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
    kaluputti likes this.
  3. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Quarrel among the Senses

    Once upon a time all the sense organs had a dispute among themselves as regard to who was superior. Each one boasted saying: “I am superior, I am superior.” It went on until finally they all decided to approach Prajapati, their father.

    They asked him: “Sir, who is the best among us?”

    Prajapati replied: “He by whose departure the body looks the worst – he is the best among you.”

    Following his words the organ of Speech first departed, and having stayed away for a whole year it returned and said, “How have you been able to live without me?”

    The other organs replied: “We lived like a dumb being who lives without speaking, but breathing with the prana, seeing with the eye, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind.”

    Then the organ of speech entered the body.

    It was then the turn of the eye to depart, and having stayed away for a year it returned and said, “How have you been able to live without me?”

    The other organs replied: “We lived like a blind being without seeing, but breathing with the prana, speaking with the tongue, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind.”

    Then the eye entered the body.

    Then the ear departed, and having stayed away for a year it returned and said to the other organs, “How have you been able to live without me?”

    They replied: “We all lived like a deaf being without hearing, but breathing with the prana, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and thinking with the mind.”

    Then the ear entered the body.

    The mind then went out. After being away for a whole year it came back and said, “How have you been able to live without me?”

    The other organs replied: “We lived like a child whose mind is not yet formed, without thinking with the mind, but breathing with the prana, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and hearing with the ear.”

    Then the mind entered the body.

    Now, when the prana, or breath was about to depart, tearing up the other senses, they all gathered round him and said: “Revered Sir, be thou our lord; thou art the best among us. Do not depart from us.” Then the organ of speech came and said to the Breath, “Sir, that attribute of being most excellent which I possess is thine.” So said the eye, the ear and the mind. Hence these (the organ of speech, the eyes, the ears, the mind) are not simply sense organs, but they are all signs of life - the Prana.

    For Prana alone is all these.
    Chandogya Upanishad.
     
  4. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    The World Beyond

    Shvetaketu was the son of Uddalaka Aruni. After his education from the Gurukula he was further instructed by his father at home and became much more learned than what he was before. Shvetaketu always thought himself to be the wisest among all. Once he decided to go to the assembly of the Panchala. There, in the assembly, the Kshatriya prince Pravahana addressed him saying, “Have you had your full education, my dear?” To this Shvetaketu replied, “Yes, indeed.” Then the prince started asking questions to him in the following manner:

    Pravahana – “Do you know where all living beings go to after death?”

    Shvetaketu – “No, revered Sir, I do not know.”

    Pravahana – “Do you know how they return?”

    Shvetaketu – “No, revered Sir, I do not know.”

    Pravahana – “Do you know the two paths, the path of light (devayana) and the path of darkness (pitriyana) along which the dead ones travel?”

    Shvetaketu – “No, revered Sir, I do not know.”

    Pravahana – “Do you know why the other world does not become overfull though so many continue to depart from this world and enter it.?”

    Shvetaketu – “No, revered Sir, I do not know.”

    Pravahana – “Do you know how the fifth stage elemental matter in the oblation becomes the purursha or the living person?”

    Shvetaketu – “No, revered Sir, I do not know.”

    Pravahana – “Then how dare you say that your education is complete? You seem to know nothing of these subjects.”

    Shvetaketu was distressed and felt very much humiliated at this. So he returned home and asked his father Uddalaka, “Revered father, you told me that you have instructed me well. But when prince Pravahana asked some five questions, believe me, I could not reply even one of those. How then did you say to me that I was sufficiently educated?” Saying this to his father, Shvetaketu then narrated the whole story about the five questions and his awkwardness in the assembly of the Panchalas.

    Uddalaka, the loving father of Shvetaketu, listened everything carefully and replied: “Believe me my dear child. I myself do not know anything about any of these questions. If I had that knowledge, do you think that I have ever withheld it from you?” Saying this to his son, Uddalaka decided to go the assembly of Panchala to learn about this knowledge from prince Pravahana.

    In the palace of Pravahana, Uddalaka was received with due respect. The next morning when he presented himself at the assembly, Pravahana told him respectfully, “Sir, I offer you wealth which is dear to all. You can demand as much as you please.” At this Uddalaka said, “O great prince, let the wealth remain with you. Tell me about the questions you have asked to my son. I am thirsting for the knowledge of the other world.”

    The prince was perturbed and yet pleased with the attitude of the Brahmin sage. He then requested Uddalaka to stay with him for a long time. At the end of the period Pravahana said to Uddalaka, “O revered Gautama (another name of Uddalaka), prior to you this knowledge never went to any Brahmin. This knowledge has been traditionally known only to the Kshatriyas. It is only now and for the first time that a Brahmin is receiving it from a Kshatriya king.” Saying this, Pravahana started giving Uddalaka the answers to all the questions he had asked to Shvetaketu.

    The essence Pravahana’s teachings to Uddalaka can be put in the following manner:

    The elemental matter gets converted into life or a person gradually by going through five different stages. These five different stages represent five different sacrifices. There is the first stage where the elemental matter is the oblation offered to the fire and the sun. As a result Soma, the life-giving sap is produced. In the second offering, this Soma is poured into Parjanya, the power that brings rain. This results in the rain itself. The showering of the rain on the earth is the third sacrifice which results in food. When man consumes food it gets digested, as the fourth sacrifice, and the Retas or the vital fluid is produced. This Retas takes up a different form in man and woman, and when the Retas of the man gets united with that of the woman, as the fifth sacrifice, then the embryo is born and from this the child.

    The physical body of the man dissolves into the elements which constituted it. But the destiny of the soul depends on the actions performed and the knowledge acquired. The one who has attained the real spiritual knowledge goes by the path of light and does not return to the earthly existence. The one with no knowledge or partial knowledge goes by the path of darkness and falls into the eternal cycle of birth and death and suffers. Thus, some go to the world of Brahman and never return, some go the heaven and remain there for some time and return to the earth to complete their works, and numerous others are caught up in the ever-recurring cycle of birth and death. That is why the other world is never overfull.

    In short, this is the knowledge of life and its origin, of the destiny of the soul after death, imparted by Kshatriya king Pravahana to Uddalaka, the aspiring Brahmin.-Chandogya Upanishad.
     
  5. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    The story of Nachiketa

    Vajashravas was a sage. Once, he decided to perform a great sacrifice in which he wanted to give away all that he had. He had a son by the name Nachiketa who was still a boy but extremely intelligent and very pure in mind and heart. He saw that his father was giving away the lean and weak cows that were unable to give milk. My father is not doing the right thing by giving the old cows in charity, said Nachiketa to himself so he went near his father and asked, “Father, I have heard that the kind of Yajna that you are performing, one has to give up all that one possesses. This being the case to whom will you give me?” Vajashravas did not give any reply. After some time Nachiketa asked again the same question, but in vain. He did not get any response from his father. Again for the third time, Nachiketa repeated the same question. Vajashravas could not control his temper; he burst out saying to his own son, “I will give you Yama, the God of Death.”

    Nachiketa followed the words of his father and went to the kingdom of Death. However, during that time Yama was not present. None dared to admit Nachiketa. So he waited near the gate for three days and three nights without taking even a drop of water. When Yama returned and found Nachiketa at his doorstep he felt sad for keeping a Brahmin waiting for three days and three nights. He ordered his attendants to fetch holy water to invite and welcome Nachiketa. After the hospitality offered to Nachiketa, Yama told Nachiketa, “Dear child, I have not done good by keeping you waiting for three days. So I request you to ask for three boons.”

    Nachiketa answered to Yama by saying, “O Lord, let my father not be anxious about me, and let his anger against me vanish. When I go back to earth, let him recognize me and receive me back gladly.”

    “Granted son,” said Yama. “Ask your second boon.”

    “Dear Sir, teach me the proper ritual for the fire sacrifice. This I ask for my second boon” said Nachiketa.

    Yama agreed and taught Nachiketa the proper ritual for the fire sacrifice. Then he said, “Nachiketa, what is your third boon?”

    Nachiketa said, “Is there indeed a life beyond death? Some say there is; others say life ends with this life. What is the truth?”

    Yama said, “Boy, do not ask me about matters of life and death. Even the gods are not clear on all points. Ask me something else. I will grant all your wishes other than this.”

    Nachiketa persisted and said, “O Yama, I only wish to know about the mysteries of life and death, and nothing else.”

    Yama tries to offer Nachiketa worldly pleasures so that he may change the nature of his request for the third boon, but Nachiketa insists by stating that all the worldly pleasures are short-lived and do not render long lasting happiness. Nachiketa was bold enough saying that one can never reach the eternal through the worldly possessions. Therefore he has renounced all desires for worldly pleasures and have come here with the hope of wining the Eternal through the instructions of the God of Death.

    It was too difficult for Yama to change the mind of young Nachiketa. So finally, he agreed to tell Nachiketa about the mysteries of life and death with the following words:

    “The Self is immortal. It was not born, nor does it die. It did not come out of anything, neither did anything came out of it. Even if this body is destroyed, the soul is not destroyed.”

    “The one who thinks that he is the slayer and the one who thinks that he is slain, both are ignorant. For the Self neither slays nor is it slain.”

    “Smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest, the Self is living in all beings.”

    “The knowledge about it can neither be obtained by discussion, nor by brain power, nor even by much learning. It reveals itself to the deserving one.”

    “This body is the chariot, intelligence the driver, the senses are the horses, conscience the rein and the soul is the lord of the chariot. The Self is superior to body, mind and senses.

    “Greater than the individual soul is the enveloping super consciousness, the seed of everything in the universe, still greater is the Ultimate Person than whom there is nothing greater. He is the goal of our aspiration. Once That (Supreme Self) is realized, death loses all its terrors, and the one who has realized becomes mortal.
    Kathopanishad
     
  6. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    The story of Satyakama

    One day a young boy came to the ashrama of Sage Haridrumata Gautama and said, “Revered Sir, I desire to live under you as a Brahmacharin. Please accept me as your student.”

    The sage asked, “Dear boy, of what gotra or lineage are you?”

    The boy replied, “Sir, I do not know of what gotra I am. I asked it of my mother. She said: ‘I also do not know of what gotra you are. I used to serve many people and I got you in my youth. So I am not sure of what lineage you are. However, I am Jabala by name and you are Satyakama’. So, Sir, I reveal myself to you as Satyakama Jabala.”

    On hearing it, the Rishi Haridrumata Gautama smiled and said, “No one who is not a Brahmin can speak thus. Dear boy, bring the sacrificial fuel. I shall initiate you as a Brahmacharin, for you have not deviated from truth.” Thus was Satyakama Jabala initiated into the life of a Brahmacharin.

    After a few days, Rishi Haridrumata Gautama sorted out four hundred lean and weak cows and said to Satyakama, “Dear boy, take these cows to the forest and graze them.”

    Satyakama bowed down with submission and while driving the cows said, “Sir, I shall not return till these cows multiply into a thousand.”

    Satyakama lived in the forest and looked after the cows.

    Years went by. The number of cows increased to a thousand.

    One day towards evening a bull came to Satyakama and spoke to him, “Dear boy! Now we are a thousand in number. Take us to the house of the teacher”. Also, the bull said to Satyakama,”I shall teach you one quarter of the Brahman or God. He is Prakashavan or the Radiant. He who meditates on Brahman as the Radiant, becomes radiant in this world.” Thus having spoken the bull told Satyakama that Agni, the God of fire, will teach him more later.

    At dawn, Satyakama drove the cows towards his Guru’s ashrama.

    In the evening when the cows came together, he kindled a fire there, added fuel to the fire, penned the cows and sat down near them behind the fire, facing east. Then the Fire addressed him and said: “Dear boy, I will teach you one quarter of the Brahman. He is Anantavan or the Endless. One who knows Him to be thus and meditates upon him as Endless, becomes endless in this world”. Then the fire told him that a swan was going to tell him about the third quarter of the Brahman.

    At dawn, Satyakama continued to drive the cows towards the Guru’s ashrama. Towards evening when the cows came together, he kindled a fire there, added fuel to the fire, penned the cows and sat down near them behind the fire, facing east. All of a sudden a swan came flying and said, “Satyakama! I shall teach you the third quarter of Brahman. He is called Jyotishman or the Effulgent. One who knows him thus and meditates upon him as the Effulgent, becomes effulgent in this world.” Then the swan told him that a waterfowl would teach him the last part of the Brahman.

    On the following day, once again, Satyakama drove the cows in the direction of his Guru’s ashrama.

    Towards evening when the cows came together, he kindled a fire there, added fuel to the fire, penned the cows and sat down near them behind the fire, facing east. Then, a waterfowl came before him and said, “Satyakama! I shall teach you the fourth and last part of Brahman. He is Ayatanavan or the All-supporting. One who knows him thus and meditates upon him as the All-supporting, becomes That in this world.”

    When Satyakama reached the Guru’s ashram with the thousand cows, the Guru asked him, “Dear boy, your face shines with the knowledge of Brahman. Who taught you that?”

    Satyakama told him about his four teachers and said, “Sir, I now request you to expound it to me personally. Because I know that the knowledge received directly from one’s own Guru becomes perfect.”

    Then Rishi Haridrumat Gautama, the revered teacher of Satyakama, taught him the same thing again by adding more meaning to all that Satyakama had learnt. Thus Satyakama got the full knowledge of Brahman from his Guru and later, he himself became a great teacher.-Chandogya Upanishad,
     

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