Satpurush: The Living Commentary of the Ishãvãsya Upanishad
This Ishãvãsya concept can be easily understood through the life of the Satpurush (guru), since the very life of the Satpurush is a living commentary on the intangible words of the shastras.
One of Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj’s traits was that even though he was himself the guru, he used to address all, even young children, with the title ‘guru’. Once, when this happened in the village of Paatna, Jetha Bhagat said to Yogiji Maharaj, “Swami! I am your disciple, why do you call me ‘guru’?” Yogiji Maharaj replied, “Guru! I perceive all as gunatit and see Maharaj in all; that is why I say ‘guru’.” This is the Ishãvãsya concept.
“Shriji Maharaj, Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj reside in you all. That is why I should offer you flowers and perform your arti. This is my devotion to you.” These are the opening words of guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s address in front of hundreds of thousands of devotees during his 79th birthday celebrations on 16 December 1999 in Tithal.
Around the same time, there was a gathering for the ãdivãsi (tribal) people in the district of Dharampur. In his blessings to them Pramukh Swami Maharaj said, “Paramãtmã is the ãdi (first) of all. His vãs is in you (He resides in you). And you reside near him; therefore, you are ãdivãsi.” Only one who lives the ‘Ishãvãsya concept’ can understand the true meaning of the word ‘ãdivãsi’.
The benefits of the noble, divine and liberating spiritual understanding of ‘र्इशा वास्यम् इदं सर्वम्’ is not ordinary. In this Upanishad, the amazing benefits of this understanding have also been shown.
‘जुगुप्सा’ (jugupsã) means to speak badly of or have anti-feelings for someone. One who weds the Ishãvãsya concept is described as ‘न विजुगुप्सते’ – ‘Na Vijugupsate’ (Ishãvãsya Upanishad: 6). This sentence has two meanings. First, one never speaks or feels antagonistic for anyone; and second, no one ever bears such anti-feelings for him. This is simple enough for everyone to understand. Negative behaviour is born from lack of the Ishãvãsya concept. There is no scope for it when an understanding of the Ishãvãsya concept is attained.
Yogiji Maharaj’s life demonstrates this. He once casually said, “I never have a feeling of dislike for even the smallest devotee. I never see their faults. I never let their faults be seen. I see them as murtis of Brahman.”
Indeed, with this ‘Ishãvãsya concept’ quarrels would no longer remain.
तत्र को मोहः
‘तत्र को मोहः’ – ‘Tatra ko mohaha’ – ‘Where lies moha’ (Ishãvãsya Upanishad: 7). Moha means delusion. To understand that which shouldn’t be understood. To not understand that which should be understood and, in fact, to understand it incorrectly is delusion. Understanding the ãtmã to be the body, perceiving manushyabhãv (human traits) in Paramãtmã or the Brahmaswarup guru and other false beliefs are all moha. Incorrect understandings or perceptions lead to incorrect behaviour and sin.
There is a famous story of a Sanskrit school. As a test, a guru gave two of his disciples a fruit each to eat, and told them to have it where no one could see them. One went to a solitary place, and believing that no one was looking he ate the fruit. The other student who had attained the Ishãvãsya concept – realizing that Paramãtmã is everywhere and so observing him – through the guru’s teachings did not eat the fruit. One who knows the omnipresent entity, never commits sins, since he believes that he is never alone. He sees everything filled with Brahman and Parabrahman. Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami said, “One who has such an understanding doesn’t even have bad thoughts, let alone bad actions. Whatever bad actions one performs simply reflects upon one’s ignorance.”
‘तत्र कः शोकः’ – Tatra kaha shokaha. – ‘How can there be grief in him?’ (Ishãvãsya Upanishad: 7). This is an important result of the Ishãvãsya concept. All grief dissolves and eternal bliss is attained. Thus, one experiences liberation in this very life.
There is a well-known incident of Brahmaswarup Bhagatji Maharaj. Govardhanbhai was the administrator of Vartal mandir and had great authority and power. One day, he saw Bhagatji Maharaj – a man without a post, of average means, of an ordinary profession, of an ordinary caste, and often insulted. Yet the nobility of his heart could be seen on his face. Gordhanbhai felt, “This person has definitely got some kind of magic in his heart.” He asked, “Bhagatji! Why are you so happy?” Bhagatji replied, “I see everyone as the murti of Brahman.” This is the miracle of the Ishãvãsya concept. That miracle can take place in our lives too – it is just a matter of awakening that concept.
Let us now take a look at another such principle in the Ishãvãsya Upanishad.
2. तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथाः
‘Tena tyaktena bhungjithãhã’ – ‘Enjoy but without forgetting renunciation’ (Ishãvãsya Upanishad: 1). To enjoy pleasures is a common thing. But the art of enjoying is a different matter. This clause teaches us how to accommodate pleasures in life. If only Brahman and Parabrahman pervade all things, control all and rule, then what in this world is of my own? Nothing whatsoever. Everything is theirs. They have given to me. Hence, one meaning of this clause is to enjoy with the renunciative attitude that ‘nothing is mine’. Here, renunciation has not been put against pleasure, but together with it: ‘तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथाः’
Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami used to say, “Don’t indulge in everything that comes your way. Learn to renounce.” The whole world enjoys pleasures. But to renounce, put the reigns of the shastras on them, is a much greater uniqueness of Hindu traditions.
Another message can also be understood from the sentence ‘तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथाः’. ‘तेन’ means ‘by Isha (the ruler or controller)’; ‘त्यक्तेन’ means ‘by whatever body, location and things we have attained due to our karmas’; ‘भुञ्जीथाः’ means ‘with that one should sustain one’s life’. What is the need for more? Thus, this shloka suggests that desires have to be controlled and one must become satisfied.
3. मा गृघः कस्यस्विद् घनम्
‘Mã grudhaha kasyasvid dhanam’ (Ishãvãsya Upanishad: 1). Only those who have forgotten the Ishãvãsya concept and the ‘तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथाः’ viewpoint take ‘another’s wealth’. Here, the Upanishad restrains them. ‘मा गृघः’ means ‘do not desire’; ‘कस्यस्विद् घनम्’ means ‘another’s wealth’. Here the word ‘wealth’ represents all worldly things. Only Isha is the true owner. It is Isha who gives us everything. Yet one who believes that ‘this is my wealth’ can be said to have taken someone’s wealth. Truly, one who understands this will be rid of greed.
This is the meaning of the first mantra. Now, let us acquaint ourselves with the meaning of the second mantra.
4. कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेत्व्छतš समाः।
‘Kurvanneveha karmãni jijivishechhatam samãhã’ (Ishãvãsya Upanishad: 2). This mantra must be understood in addition to the concept of the first mantra. This teaching is for making things that hinder moksha into things that aid moksha. The influence of karma is widespread. Shri Krishna himself has explained, ‘न हि कश्र्चित् क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत्’ – ‘No one can pass even a moment without performing a karma’ (Gitã: 3.5) Here, we are informed that if the spirit and attitude of ‘र्इशा वास्यम् इदं सर्वम्’ is added to those same karmas, then they become a form of devotion and a means to liberation.
For example, if someone who doesn’t know how to swim jumps into water, then, even though he flails about – he becomes tired, miserable and drowns. But when he learns the art of swimming, he no longer tires, becomes miserable or drowns. In fact, he then enjoys swimming. That which previously caused misery now brings happiness. The same applies in the matter of karma. It is necessary to learn the art of performing karmas in life. The shastras teach us that art. When karmas are performed seeing Brahman and Parabrahman in everything and with the intention of pleasing them, realizing them to be the all-doers, then those karmas become the means to supreme bliss and liberation. Such karmas attain the status of seva. That is why the Upanishad says, ‘कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेत्व्छतं समाः’ means ‘a hundred years.’ We should do such seva for a hundred years, i.e. for as long as we live without any laziness or boredom. Seva is the essence of this mantra. We can see this wholly imbibed in the lives of our gurus. For years, Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj would wait for devotees to arrive in the afternoon in Gondal, so that he could serve them by offering lunch. He would prepare their seats, bring them dishes and bowls and serve them personally. He would often say, “Shriji Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj dine through the devotees.” This is the Ishãvãsya concept integrated into the action of serving.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas