{hinduloka} $title={Table of Content} How the Vedas Teach to Live in Harmony and Peace

The Upanishads contain the theology of liberation and give it qualities, transcendental, mystical and philosophical, recognizing man as an eternal spiritual entity. They open the minds of those who study them or contemplate them and prepare them internally for the grand vision of the infinite, eternal and indestructible reality as their essence. One can find in it the truth of existence which is beyond the comprehension of the sense-driven materialistic mind.

The wisdom of the Upanishads proves to be transformative and uplifting, especially for those who are tired of materialism and the oppressive and stressful demands placed upon them to excel in their lives. It frees the human mind from the shackles of habitual thought and perceptual knowledge and encourages aspirants to explore the unknown, surrendering their mind, ego and intelligence. Truth seekers and those driven by curiosity find in them possibilities and opportunities that even the ordinary mind cannot comprehend.

The Upanishads facilitate this process of liberation by suggesting ways by which one can find pure soul or pure consciousness within oneself and experience that ultimate reality as an integral part of one's own consciousness.

Through the timeless knowledge of the Upanishads , Hinduism offers the option to connect to the spiritual Self and experience peace in the here and now, without being marred by the vulnerabilities that render us vulnerable and undisturbed by the alluring phenomena of the material world, the natural and powerful urge for sense gratification.

The Upanishads helped Hinduism survive competition from ascetic and monastic traditions such as Buddhism and Jainism for more than two thousand years. They also provide guidance and inspiration to those who wish to leave household chores and ritual practices and focus solely on liberation, without having to seek solutions from other religions. The Upanishads are still the knowledge section ( jnana kanda ) of the Vedas , and serve as the basis for Hinduism's spiritual wisdom.

There was a time when the Upanishads were relatively unknown to the majority of the faithful because their knowledge was limited to certain groups of people based on caste .

Today, knowledge is available to anyone who wants to explore it and learn from it. However, that was not the case until the beginning of the last century. Even in Vedic times , students only had access to a few Upanishads or a few verses, because the teachers had no knowledge of all the important Upanishads .

The following are some important reasons why knowledge of the Upanishads is not taught to everyone:

Competition between different sects and traditions

Knowledge of the Upanishads comes from various sources. Their early teachers came from both Vedic and non-Vedic backgrounds , and had a diverse tradition of gurus and ascetic movements that competed with others for followers and protection. Therefore, each of them strives to keep their teachings and keep them among themselves to keep their purity.

Knowledge is meant to be taught privately

The real meaning of the word Upanishad is to sit near the Guru, which means it is meant to be taught directly or whispered in the ear. Teachers need to know the goodness and behavior of their students before they start them into teaching. In the Upanishads themselves one can find references to early conversations about karma , the individual Self, Brahman , liberation, etc., which were conducted privately and in secrecy.

Knowledge of the Vedas is a prerequisite

The Upanishads are considered the final part of the Veda. Each major Upanishad is associated with a specific Veda. Therefore, it is imperative that teachers and students be proficient in other parts of the Vedas in order to understand the true meaning and intent of the Upanishads and their ritual symbolism. Since the Vedic teachings were confined to the upper castes, knowledge of the Upanishads also remained confined to them for a long time.

Caste prevents many people from learning the Vedas

The ancient Vedic traditions and law books forbid the teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads for lower castes although it is a historical fact that much of the knowledge of the Upanishads in the early days of Vedic religion comes from non-Brahman sources . When the caste system became rigid, and as the original Kshatriya clans lost their power and Brahmins became the official guardians of the Vedic religion , the restrictions on imparting knowledge became more stringent.

No written text

Without a written script, for a long time, the Vedas were passed down orally by the teachers to their students. The students had to memorize every word and hymn in the text which took a long time and considerable effort. The same is true with regard to the teachings of the Upanishads . Therefore, it becomes the duty and responsibility of teachers to select their students carefully so that they will faithfully memorize the texts and maintain the purity of the Upanishads .

Student readiness is the main criterion

Knowledge of the Upanishads is considered higher knowledge. It is intended for those who have fulfilled their family obligations and responsibilities and are ready to take up sannyasa and pursue liberation or for those who develop a genuine dislike of worldly life and wish to escape the cycle of birth and death. Students and teachers must focus not only on teaching but also on practice. Therefore, teachers must ensure that their students are ready for knowledge and fit to take the harsh path of liberation.

Tradition explicitly forbids teaching sacred knowledge to everyone

The scriptures and teacher traditions explicitly forbid teaching sacred knowledge to those who are unqualified, who do not want to learn, who do not have faith in God, who do not adhere to the core principles of Dharma , and who are not mentally prepared to pursue liberation. For example, in the Bhagavadgita , Sri Krishna explicitly commands Arjuna to reveal his teachings to anyone who does not practice asceticism, who is not a devotee, who does not wish to render service. Similar instructions can be found in many other scriptures.

In addition, other considerations also play an important role in limiting the teaching of religious knowledge. Control over the teaching and dissemination of religious knowledge might help some groups to survive and proliferate in difficult times, gain protection from influential people and secure social and economic benefits. In that case, the rigid caste system plays an important role. However, there are exceptions where achievement or personal character rather than birth is the primary consideration. A notable example is Satyakama Jabala , who was born to an unknown servant and father. Raikva , who imparted knowledge of the Self to Janasruti was a chariot puller and probably came from a lower caste .

Present Condition

The secrecy associated with the Upanishads is now a matter of the past. Knowledge of the Vedas is no longer confined to the higher castes , although the priestly profession is still largely practiced by Brahmins .

The laws laid down in the Dharma Shastra are no longer binding on Hindus, although some conservatives may still believe them. It is no longer taboo to study the Vedas or other scriptures by other castes for personal, intellectual, academic or spiritual reasons.

Hindus from all walks of life are entitled to pursue religious studies and acquire knowledge of scriptures including the Upanishads . Teachers and teacher traditions may still seek qualified students to impart knowledge, but they cannot explicitly use caste as a criterion because there are laws against discrimination.

Many Hindus may not know or be fluent in Sanskrit or pursue spiritual goals. However, most of them know the importance of the scriptures and the knowledge and wisdom they contain.

The Upanishads today form the core of Hindu literature, philosophy and spiritual knowledge. From a philosophical or spiritual perspective, they are considered more important than the Samhita or the ritual component of the Vedas themselves. The same thing happened in the past. They also served as a major source of knowledge and wisdom for many teacher traditions and sectarian movements, which relied on them to formulate their teachings and prepare their followers.