“Upanishad means ‘to sit down near’ because they were explained to
the students, who sat at the feet of their teachers. In general
Upanishads proclaim salvation by knowledge and realization, rather
than by faith and works. Selfish desires are obstacles to the seekers
of Truth (the Higher- Self, also called as Brahman). A seeker of true
Divinity will attain salvation when he realizes the Truth, the all-
pervasive Brahman. The universe came into existence because of a
primeval desire of Brahman. Now it is the duty of the humans to
restore it to the state of things before creation…. Honesty is
especially extolled. He who has not denounced evil will never obtain
Brahman. The worldly perceptions of smell, taste, touch, hearing and
sight makes one separate from the True Self. When one can transcend
these perceptions there is no consciousness of anything other than
Self. This is immortality.
There are six great sayings (Mahavakyas) from the Upanishads that
give the basic insight into its philosophy. They are as follows with
a brief analysis of each:
“I am Brahman”: Vedic knowledge teaches that our own “Self” is the
true Divinity. The Truth is within us, in our own heart. This states
the identity of the inner most consciousness of the individual with
the supreme Divine.
Ayam Atma Brahma
“The Self is Brahman”: This states that not only individual soul is
Divine but all beings are identified with the Absolute Truth.
Tat Tvam Asi
“That art thou”: Whatever we see or think about, we are That. We are
the ultimate Thou and I in all.
” Knowledge is Brahman”: Supreme intelligence is present inherently
within us and is capable of returning us to the Divine. Our
understanding of the truth is the Truth itself.
Sarvam Kalvidam Brahma
” The whole universe is Brahman”: Not only the consciousness in you
and I but also the `principle of being’ are all Divine. The entire
universe is Divine, which includes our Self.
“Here am I”: This identifies the Divinity in our Self in something
that happens naturally like breathing. “So” is inhalation and “Ham”
is the natural sound of exhalation.
These are the six statements of the identity of individual
consciousness with the Divine reality. They all merge into and derive
from the word “Om (Aum)” or the Divine word “I Am All”. All of these
statements point to the fact that whatever or however we worship, be
it an image, book, an idea or even a God, it is the knowledge that
the Truth is within ourselves that will ultimately lead to self-
realization. Self is the true Divinity. This is the essence of
Neria Harish Hebbar, MD
May 4, 2002