Isha Upanishad Best Quotes

The Universe is the Lord

All this—whatever exists in this changing universe—should be covered by the Lord. Protect the Self by renunciation. Lust not after any man's wealth. (1)


All this: That is to say, the universe consisting of ever changing names and forms, held together by the law of causation.

Should be etc: This universe, from the standpoint of Absolute Reality, is nothing but the Lord. That it is perceived as a material entity is due to ignorance. One should view the universe, through the knowledge of non-duality, as Atman alone.

Renunciation: The scripture prescribes the discipline of renunciation of the longing for offspring, wealth, and the heavenly worlds for him alone who devotes himself entirely to contemplation of the Self as the Lord. Such an aspirant has no further need of worldly duties. It is renunciation that leads to the Knowledge of the Self and protects Its immutability, eternity, and immortality.

When the truth is known the universe is realized as Atman, the Spirit that dwells in all hearts. The diversity of names and forms, changes, actions, and the rest are superimposed upon Atman through ignorance. These are extraneous to It and unreal. Day and night the seeker after Truth meditates thus: The Supreme Lord alone dwells in all beings as Atman; this universe, though ultimately unreal, appears to be real because Brahman alone is its ground; since Brahman is my inmost Self, the universe has its root in the Self; it cannot exist independent of Atman.

The text lays down the control of lust for wealth as a great spiritual discipline. We cannot know the true nature of the Self because our mind is contaminated by greed, attachment, anger, and carnal desires, all produced by our craving for possessions. The more one is attached to wealth, the less one knows the divinity of the Self. Engrossed day and night in the thought of his possessions, a worldly person finds very little time to think about Atman. Therefore the Upanishad asks the seeker who wants to protect his spiritual treasure to renounce the craving for material wealth.

If a man wishes to live a hundred years on this earth, he should live performing action. For you, who cherish such a desire and regard yourself as a man, there is no other way by which you can keep work from clinging to you. (2)

Verily, those worlds of the asuras are enveloped in blind darkness; and thereto they all repair after death who are slayers of Atman. (3)

That non—dual Atman, though never stirring, is swifter than the mind. The senses cannot reach It, for It moves ever in front. Though standing still, It overtakes others who are running. Because of Atman, Vayu, the World Soul apportions the activities of all. (4)


The Ever-Present Self

It moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near. It is inside all this and It is outside all this. (5)


Knowledge is Liberation

The wise man beholds all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone. (6)

To the seer, all things have verily become the Self: what delusion, what sorrow, can there be for him who beholds that oneness? (7)


The Real Nature of Atman

It is He who pervades all—He who is bright and bodiless, without scar or sinews, pure and by evil unpierced; who is the Seer, omniscient, transcendent and uncreated. He has duly allotted to the eternal World—Creators their respective duties. (8)

Into a blind darkness they enter who are devoted to ignorance (rituals); but into a greater darkness they enter who engage in knowledge of a deity alone. (9)

One thing, they say, is obtained from knowledge; another, they say, from ignorance. Thus we have heard from the wise who have taught us this. (10)

He who is aware that both knowledge and ignorance should be pursued together, overcomes death through ignorance and obtains immortality through knowledge. (11)

Into a blind darkness they enter who worship only the unmanifested prakriti; but into a greater darkness they enter who worship the manifested Hiranyagarbha. (12)

One thing, they say, is obtained from the worship of the manifested; another, they say, from the worship of the unmanifested. Thus we have heard from the wise who taught us this. (13)

He who knows that both the unmanifested prakriti and the manifested Hiranyagarbha should be worshipped together, overcomes death by the worship of Hiranyagarbha and obtains immortality through devotion to prakriti. (14)

The door of the Truth is covered by a golden disc. Open it, O Nourisher! Remove it so that I who have been worshipping the Truth may behold It. (15)

O Nourisher, lone Traveller of the sky! Controller! O Sun, Offspring of Prajapati! Gather Your rays; withdraw Your light. I would see, through Your grace, that form of Yours which is the fairest. I am indeed He, that Purusha, who dwells there. (16)

Now may my breath return to the all—pervading, immortal Prana! May this body be burnt to ashes! Om. O mind, remember, remember all that I have done. (17)

O Fire, lead us by the good path for the enjoyment of the fruit of our action. You know, O god, all our deeds. Destroy our sin of deceit. We offer, by words, our salutations to you. (18)

* Commentary by Swami Nikhilananda

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