This Upanishad speaks about the fundamental principles of creation. It raises the question "what are the basic ingredients of existence"? And answers that, it is the life force (Mukhyaprana) and the individual soul or the Jiva that sustains this life force.
The individual soul has three states. They are waking, dream and deep sleep. In the waking state the instigator of the senses is the Jiva. In the dream state it is the Jiva who dreams. In deep sleep the Jiva merges with the supreme (Paramatman). Thus the Supreme Reality is the fundamental source and means of creation. To attain this Supreme the only way is by doing upasana on the syllable 'Om'. Thus we find the foundational principles of Indian philosophy, namely the source, course and goal of creation being discussed in this Upanishad.
The other subject that is discussed in this Upanishad is the Societal kalapurusa or the person, which consists of sixteen outstanding qualities. This Personality is none other than the Supreme himself. To gain maximum benefit we are advised to upasana on this aspect of the Supreme. This type of message of declaring the specific form of the Paramatman as a means to salvation is not seen in any other Upanishad.
The usage of the words Praia and Ray shows the sophistication of expression. Even topics, which can 6j] considered as uncouth, are handled in a very sophisticated and cultured way here. Rise Pippalada venerated by his disciples as Thagavan' is very apt and befitting the master teacher for his answers to the profound questions asked by his disciples, are simple in expression but profound in import.
I commend Vivian Sri Narayana and his team for having done an excellent job in bringing out this critical edition of the Prasnopanisat with its FOUR commentaries. I am grateful to Pundit Ratnam Sri K.S. Varadacharya for his able guidance in bringing out this work. I will be failing in my duty if I do not express my deep gratitude to Sri M.A.S. Rajan, President of the Academy who has been the guiding spirit and an abiding source of inspiration to all of us and Sri L.K. Ateeq, Secretary of the Academy for his inordinate interest and constant support in all our endeavors.
Therefore there is no contempt for any Veda, any aspect of its teachings, or for its style or language, for a truly orthodox student of the Veda. The inclusion of the three Atharva Upanishads among the Dagopanisads, which have been accepted and honored by all Vardakas till date, is proof enough for it, if any is needed at all.
The beauty of the present Upanishad is that it is entirely in the form of questions and answers - a set of six questions and six answers - and hence the appropriateness of the title. The noteworthy and salient features of the Upanishad are highlighted briefly in the following sections.
Vidya as the true goal of learning What was 'learning' like in ancient India of the times of which this Upanishad gives us a glimpse?
It was not education in the modern sense of bringing up the young 'systematically by instruction, by intellectual or moral training'; nor did it mean 'bringing out or developing the latent potential' of the concerned pupil (from the root educe or eduet) nor even the 'training of a particular faculty' of the candidate. (Oxford dictionary). What comes to be called education today is really 'training' or 'schooling' undergone in order to qualify for some political, social, commercial or military service. The educating authority having specified the target and evolved a method for such training, what remains is only its application in the case of individual candidates. Even when we talk of 'liberal education' this sense of undergoing training for a specified purpose is not altered; for since the times of European Renaissance, it has only meant training for the masses. Education has not been made liberal in terms of the goals themselves but in terms of their universal application to the larger masses so that the varying concept of 'gentlemanliness' would be applied to more and more people in society, who were willing to come under the sway of this idea of 'evolution of the individual'. All this process is mere 'training' - gymkhana - with no real motive of the evolution of the individual into perfection as a goal in itself, with spiritual 'probing' (and not merely 'instruction' which means the ready application of ideas or ideals already evolved) and free exploration into the ultimate mysteries of life, God being the chief among them. It was no 'God-instruction' as is done in the closed seminaries of today but God-exploration to which the teacher and the taught were dual parties, and shared joint responsibility. The prayer was :
Let our probing or intuitive learning protect us together; let us enjoy those fruits together; let us also make ventures together; let that learning grow into resplendence, and let us not come into mutual hatred in the course of its progress'. saga ndvavatu etc., the famous benediction of the Taittiriya branch of the Vedas] This was the common prayer of the teacher and the pupil; and one wonders whether anywhere in the world such a prayer as meaningful or as practical as the one cited here is heard in any of the present educational institutions including modern India which has unfortunately been turned into a counterpart of the European civilization.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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