Updated on: Thursday, December 16, 2021, 09:24 PM IST

Guiding Light: The study of the Upanishads

The Upanishads are the means of knowing the truth

Just like the Karma section of the Veda, the Upanishads are difficult to study on one’s own. A whole of qualifications is required. It requires a mature person — someone who can think clearly, feel deeply and act decisively. A mature person is likely to come to the Upanishads. The Upanishad says that it has to be studied from a shrotriya, someone who is well-versed in the methodology of revealing the truth. Why? Because the Upanishad reveals the truth, the source of everything as consciousness, free from the limitations of time and space and that consciousness is non-different from the individual. It is difficult to understand. If free from time and space, it is infinite. But words are finite.

A group of adjectives, qualifying something will not free it from any limitations but make the object more finite. If I use one word ‘pen’, then everything other than a pen is excluded. If some adjectives are added — fountain pen, blue pen, I am making it more limited, not limitless. Merely piling up of words — the infinite, supreme, divine bliss leads to concepts. A conceptual study will not reveal the truth to the seeker. A student of mine, after doing a master's in philosophy, went to his teacher and said ‘I want to do my doctorate’. And the teacher asked her why. He said because I want to know the truth. That academic professor with 30 years of teaching was very candid, ‘If you really want to know the truth, forget the doctorate. Find a traditional teacher and learn from him or her.’

If the academic study is in English, or Sanskrit or any other regional language, it is not going to deliver the truth. The truth can be known only when you study from a traditional teacher irrespective of the language. The Upanishads are the means of knowing the truth. Only a traditional teacher of Vedanta can handle the finite words to reveal the infinite truth. Studying it on your own will only leave you with concepts away from the truth.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at


(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Published on: Friday, December 17, 2021, 07:00 AM IST