What does 'Upanishad' mean? How do we relate to it?

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Photo credit: http://redzambala.com/sites/default/files/field/image/Narayana-Upanishad.jpg

Upa = near, ni = down, shad = to sit. Therefore, the full word - Upanishad - means to sit down near the teacher to study, process and participate in the intentions and objectives of sadhana and Yoga practices.

The way in which we can relate to these qualities lies in the saying, ‘the best teacher resides within you’. That you need to be able to sit within yourself, completely undistracted and willing to do the work without too much action of the mind. The work that needs doing is beyond the physical and mental level: it is a deep, transcendental knowledge. It requires that you are open to the unity of the student and the teacher in order to yield to any state of awareness or truth. There needs to be a willingness to go inward and study the self (Svadhyaya). This is succinctly depicted in the ‘Sahanaa Vavatu’ mantra translation:

May He protect us both. Conveying a spirit of surrender to the Supreme and their earnestness for study.

May He cause us both to enjoy. With the right attitude the study becomes a pleasure.

May we both exert together. Spiritual study ought not be a drudgery. It is about putting in your best effort.

May our study become brilliant. Revealing the brilliance of the Supreme Self.

May we not hate each other. This knowledge is difficult to comprehend, which can lead to controversy and arguments. This line is cautioning against such a contingency, being humble and refraining from egoistic, dogmatic assertions. Suspending one’s judgement.

 

References

Swami J. 2016. Upanishads. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.swamij.com/upanishads.htm. [Accessed 15 November 2016].