Loosely speaking, Upanishads are not Vedas. (History says) వేదాలలో ఉన్న విషయాలను అర్ధం చేసుకోలేక జనం ప్రశ్నించటం మొదలెట్టారు. వేదం చాలా వరకు instruction లాగా ఉంటుంది (అంటారు). ఆ instructions ను question చేస్తూ చేస్తూ , కొంత మంది జిజ్ఞాసులు, వేదం primaryగా బోధించే బాహ్యమైన ఆచారాలు, పద్ధతులు, procedures కాకుండా, instrospection చేసుకోవటం ప్రారంభించారు. అసలు, మనిషి అనేవాడు ఎలా పుట్టాడు, భగవంతుడు అంటే ఎలా ఉంటాడు, ‘మతం’ అన్నదానితో tie చెయ్యకుండా, అసలు మనిషి అంటే ఎలా జీవించాలి, దేని కోసం జీవించాలి, బ్రహ్మం, ఆత్మ, జన్మ, గమ్యం, గమనం(మార్గం), సంసారం, కర్మ, జ్ఞానం, మోక్షం, లాంటి విషయాలు తీవ్రంగా ఆలోచించసాగారు. ఆ thoughts compilation has become several Upanishads. Some say what we call ‘Vedanta’ (last part of vedas) is nothing but Upanishads, but I am not sure if there is any historical evidence for that.

బాగా ప్రాచుర్యంలో ఉన్న ఉపనిషత్తులు 13. Each upanishad is a complete book by itself. Some of them are as small as 12, 18 verses. Some(or may be most) of Upanishads, are in form of questions and answers. ‘Who am I’, ‘What is the origin of the world’, ‘How do I realize my self’, ‘What is nature’, లాంటి questions(వాటి answers) unnayi.

Some of the common verses, we run into, from Upanishads

  • ‘సహనావవతు, సహనౌఫునక్తు’ (Yajurveda Taittiriya Upanishad),
  • ‘అసతోమా సద్గమయా’ (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)
  • ‘అయం ఆత్మా బ్రహ్మ’ (The Self is Brahman) (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)
  • ‘అహం బ్రహ్మాస్మి’ (I am Brahman) (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)
  • ‘ప్రజ్ఞానం బ్రహ్మ’ (Brahman is Consciousness) (Aitareya Upanishad)
  • ‘సర్వం ఖల్విదం బ్రహ్మ’ (All this is Brahman) (Chandogya Upanishad)

Some of my favorite quotes from Upanisha

  • “This atman, resplendent and pure, whom the sinless sannyasins behold residing within the body, is attained by unceasing practice of truthfulness, austerity, right knowledge and continence.” — Mundaka Upanishad
  • “It is indeed the mind that is the cause of men’s bondage and liberation. the mind that is attached to sense-objects leads to bondage, while dissociated from sense-objects it tends to lead to liberation.“ — Amrita-bindu upanishad
  • “He who perceives all beings in the self alone, and the self in all beings, does not entertain any hatred on account of that perception. “ — Isavasya Upanishad
  • “As rivers, flowing down, become indistinguishable on reaching the sea by giving up their names and forms, so also the illumined soul, having become freed from name and form, reaches the self-effulgent supreme self” — Mundaka Upanishad
  • “Being first in a state of changelessness and then thoroughly forgetting (even) that state owing to the cognition of the (true) nature of brahman (infinite consciousness) — this is called samadhi.” – Tejo-bindu upanishad

An interesting pattern in our scriptures that was told is.

1. ‘Vedas’ are the most abstract. They were comprehendible only by elite.

2. So ‘ఉపనిషత్తులు’ design చేయబడ్డాయి, which are more ‘Question — Answer’ type scriptures (but concepts were still abstract like ‘Brahman’, ‘Aatman’, ‘Moksha’, ‘Self’ etc.,)

3. Next simpler version of all knowledge are ‘పురాణాలు’ (Ashtadasa puranaalu) which are collection of stories

4. Most simpler versions were ‘ఇతిహాసాలు’. (రామాయాణం, భాగవతం etc.)

Manishi తాలూకు intellectual స్థాయిని బట్టీ, నాలుగు layers of knowledgeగా design చేశారు. అంతేకాని సారం మాత్రం ఒక్కటే!