Essence of Upanishadic Teaching
( From Hindu Dharma by Shri ChandraShekarendra Sarasvati Swamiji of Kanchi)
In the view of modern science the phenomenal world exists in the time space frame. The Upanishads declare that being freed from the time and space factors, we can grasp the ultimate-truth
That is at the source of Cosmos. How to transcend Time and space? Is it possible?
An example can be citied from everyday life. We lap up the newspaper reports of the fighting going on in a distant country, say Iraq. If a dispute or trouble erupts in our home or country like Pakistan, we forget Iraq and turn to Pakistan. The newspapers themselves push reports of Iraq to some corner and highlight developments in Pakistan. But when a quarrel breaks out even nearer, say a quarrel over Tiruttani between Tamils and Telugus Pakistan is forgotten and the boundary quarrel claims all our interest. Now when we come to know about a street brawl in our neighbour hood, we throw aside the newspaper to go out and see for ourselves what the trouble is all about. Again, when we are watching the street fight, a friend or relative comes and tells us that a war is going on in our own home, a fight between wife and the mother. What do we do then? We forget the street brawl and rush home at once.
On an international level Iraq war is perhaps of great importance. But we pass from that to quarrels of decreasing importance. Why? Iraq is far away in space. We are more concerned about what happens nearer us than about far away happenings.
The time factor is similar. How inconsolably we wept when our father died ten years ago. How is it that we do not feel same intensity of grief when we think of his death today? On the day a dear one passes we weep so much but not so much on the following day. Why is it so? Last year we earned a promotion or won a prize in a lottery. We jumped for joy then, didnt we? Why is it that we dont feel the same thrill of joy when we think about it today?
Now let us turn our gaze inward. If we become aware of the battle going on within us, the battle fought by the senses, all other quarrels will become distant affairs like Iraq war. Just as nearness in space is a factor in determining how we are affected by an event, so too is nearness in time. An event occurred far away in space and long ago in time, loses its impact even when we are turned outward and remain conscious of time and space.
So Confidence Arises that we can be totally freed from time and space if We Turn Inward.
When we are asleep we are oblivious of space and time without any effort on our part. But we do not have the awareness of being free from them. We must go to the state in which we sleep without sleeping and are immersed in bliss of Jnana as well as freedom from space and time. In such a case even we receive a stab wound we will not be affected by it. It would be like happening in a remote land like Iraq.
Now let us think about our real goal what is it? Peace and tranquility. Let us consider what we must do for this goal. So if we are to remain detached we must think that what happens close by is happening in a remote place. We must also learn to think that all happy and unhappy incidents of the moment occurred some ten years ago. We must remain in the absolute state of being ourselves.
The essence of Upanishadic message is the burning desire to be free from time and space. All that we need to do is to pray to lord and make an effort to develop the will and capacity to put the happenings of the moment, back in time and distant in space.
The first of the ten major Upanishads, Ishaavaasya Upanishad, says:
Tadejati tannaijati taddoore tadvantike
Tadanatarasya sarvasya tadu sarvasyaasya bahyatah.
It is afar yet it is near. It is indeed within. This statement refers to time and space, and creates the urge in us to be freed from both. The next mantra,
Yastu sarvaani bhootaani aatmanyevaanupashyati
Sarva bhooteshu aatmaanam tato na vijugupsate.
This mantra asks us to see, time, space and all the creatures, in our self itself. Then there will be no cause for hatred, delusion or sorrow. Nothing will affect us. This truth of being free from time and space, this truth of Upanishads, is to be realized within as an experience.