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Upanishads lead the way
I read the article, The God of the Upanishads, by Smt Vanitha Vaidialingam in the February 2022 issue of Life Positive, and was impressed.
The Upanishads are described as Vedanta, which means they are the end of all the Vedas. This is not only in the sense of the order of the texts but also that they are the very philosophy of the Vedas. I believe that it is the Divine’s blessings which have actuated the author to write such an article on the Upanishads. I appreciate her sincerely for her bold attempt to write about this comprehensive and complicated topic.
The author attracted the readers at the beginning itself by saying that the Upanishads are not focussed on ‘Who is God’ but absorbed in understanding ‘What is God,’ which is the essence of the Upanishads.
Quoting the Kena Upanishad, she beautifully says that Brahman cannot be imagined or thought of because it is the very energy that makes you imagine or think and concludes that Brahman can only be realised by subjective experience, which is again hard to be communicated or shared to others. Then comes the story of Svetaketu from the Chandogya Upanishad. Svetaketu, having mastered all the Vedas, could not shed his ego and hence could not understand the knowledge which makes the unknown known. Finally, only after being in silence for years together and only after his mind ceased its chatter was he able to experience Brahman. Examples of a clay pot and golden ornaments are given to explain the forms of mithya and Sathya. Thirumoolar, in his Thirumanthiram, explains Paramatma by the famous example of the wooden elephant where a child could see only the toy elephant but the carpenter knows that it is wood. The ignorant can see only the prapancha (world) made of panchabhoota (five elements) but the gyanis (the wise) can see the param (the Absolute). This is elaborated by the author’s words: “We see the limits but not the limitless that exists beyond the limitations. . . . One must cease to objectify Brahman and attempt to experience Brahman.”
Though it is said that there are more than 1000 Upanishads, details of 108 Upanishads are only available now. Out of these, historically, 10 Upanishads had been chosen by Sri Adi Sankara Bhaghavatpadha for writing the Bhashyams (commentary) based on the Advaita Siddhaantha (principle of non-duality). These are called Dasoupanishads starting from the Ishavasyam to the Brihadaranyakam.
The attempt of the author in narrating the qualities and attributes from the various Upanishads is simply exemplary. The narration of experiencing Brahman by the ‘neti neti’( not this, not this,) process of peeling away the layers covering Brahman from the Brihadharanyaka Upanishad is scintillating. The descriptions of Brahman as an eternal, indestructible, and unchanging element from the Isha and Katha Upanishads, as Aanandam, the ultimate joy from the Taittiriya Upanishad, and of the Mahavakya, Tat tvam asi (You are that) from the Chandogya Upanishad are all great and travel straight to the heart.
The final statement that abstractions can only be described in abstract terms and only the experience of these abstractions will make one understand and appreciate the truth is really truthful. A great article indeed, especially for the younger generation of today’s fast-moving materialistic world. It deserves much appreciation.
Ramnathan Chandrashekharan via email
I write to commend the article, The God of the Upanishads, by Vanitha Vaidialingam in the February 2022 issue of Life Positive.
Engaging, even enlightening, this was indeed a great educational experience for me. It sheds light on how discourse and engagement have been the way of our land. It affirms that transformation and not the transfer of information has been the quest of our people. It affords us a glimpse of what is godliness: this expansive seeking that has woven a web of pluralism and forms the fabric of inclusive faith.
I look forward to enjoying more wafts of a gentle breeze of the higher truth that is everywhere and to which the author leads us just as a vane shows the direction of the blowing wind. I do commend the fluent felicity of the author, Vanitha Vaidialingam, who should write for us more often.
Shama Rajappa, Chennai
I am very happy to read Life Positive magazine, which, by its very name, helps us make our thoughts and emotions positive.
In the April, May, and June 2020 issues, all articles are thought-provoking and inspire one to make efforts to become a spiritual person. One such article was Surya Sheds Light on Spirituality. Spirituality is the best medicine for all our problems. Becoming spiritual, we always remain calm—no anxiety, no stress.
Thanks to Team Life Positive.
Panduranga H via email
Not-so-sweet facts about honey
I want to thank you for the wonderful article Honey: Facts You Didn’t Know by Jamuna Rangachari in the February 2022 issue of Life Positive. It was an eye-opener for my entire family who had been buying the popular brands from the market, thinking them to be pure.
I still remember giving away four bottles of home-grown honey gifted to me by a relative to my maids because it had crystallised during winter, and I had thought it to be impure owing to the change it had undergone. How I regret it now! It’s really sad that virtually no efforts are made by the government to enlighten people about the real and natural state of not only honey but many other products, causing us to place our trust in hyped but counterfeit products. I once again thank Team Life Positive for coming up with such informative and empowering articles.
Ramesh Kalsi, Gonda
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