The first mantra in Isavasya Upanishad reads as under :
” OM Ishavasyamidam sarvam yet kincha Jagatyam Jagat,
Tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasyasrdhanam ”

Literal translation : All this, whatever is there ( animate and inanimate ) in this universe, is pervaded or enveloped by the Supreme God. By renunciation protect the Self and do not covet anybody’s wealth.

Liberal translation : LET GO AND ENJOY WHATEVER THE LORD GIVES.
( Behold the universe in the glory of God : and all that lives and moves on earth. Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal. Set not your heart on another’s possession ).

The mantra postulates that all the universe is the creation of God and hence all animate and inanimate beings deserve equal care and regard. Bliss and peace comes when we are in harmony with the universe. The cosmic consciousness pervades the earth and those who can partake of this consciousness remain sensitive and intuitive to all vicissitudes touching our life. If we can rid ourself of the baggage of the past, we can possibly remain happy and alive to the present. Coveting other’s possession amounts to theft , if not literally, at least in intentions. It may even lead to greed and other vicious negative tendency called JEALOUSY , which in turn makes us obsessive about other’s wealth or achivements and a secret desire to possess them unethicallly instead of working to earn them ourselves.

I am reminded of a story written by an eminent Hindi writer ( I do not now recall his name ). It was about a sadhu living in a kutiya ( hut ) on the fringe of a village. He was greatly devoted to his sadhna and had no desire for worldly things or wealth except that he had a weakness. His weakness was his horse who was well bred , docile and extremely loyal to him. After completing his daily ritual of pooja and sadhana, the sadhu used to canter through the local bazaar and then onwards to the woods and thence to a river. He led the horse to drink the water ( there is a saying that you can take a horse to the water but can not make him drink it-this saying obviously does not apply in this case). He lovingly washed him and bathed him and galloped back to his kutiya. This was his daily routine. A dacoit , who had heard of this horse, coveted to possess it. A horse is much more useful to a dacoit than to a sadhu who should practise renunciation and let go of things not relevant for his sadhna – so thought the dacoit. He approached the sadhu and offered to purchase the horse for any amount that he asked for. The sadhu declined to part with the horse as it was an intrinsic part of his life. The dacoit thereafter played a trick. He disguised himself and lay beside the road , he knew, the sadhu would aproach . When sadhu came upon that road, he saw an apparently sick person lying beside the road and groaning in pain. Being a compassionate sadhu , he dismounted from his horse and went to enquire what was ailing him. The dacoit said that he was very sick and and he would require help to go to a Vaidya ( ayurvedic doctor ) in the bazaar. The sadhu asked him to come with him on the horse. Thereupon the dacoit stood up wiith alacrity and put his foot on the stirrup and mounted the horse in an electrifying motion. The sadhu was left alone and stunned at this deception. Before , however, the dacoit could gallop away, the sadhu shouted to him , ” you can take away my horse but should never narrate this incident to any person (s) lest they refuse to trust any deserving person and refuse to help the needy .”..

Another incident comes to my mind which had a positive fall out. I am rather a lazy person and rarely help my wife in her daily chores. A case of male chauvinist- the feminist brigade might say but there was a redeeming point. On demand from my wife, I would saunter to the market to buy provisions of daily needs ( she does not trust me for purchase of high priced items as I can not haggle and tend to buy any thing which catches my fancy ! ) . So , I went for buying fruits and vegetables from the local vegetable mandi ( market ). I saw a number of hawkers , some on carts and some sitting on ground with their wares. I approached a woman vendor, who was sitting on the ground quietly and contentedly and not crying out vociferously like others. I purchased fruits and vegetables worth about Rs. 65 and slunk away after handing her a note of Rs 100. Being absent minded which is my forte , I forgot to collect the remaining amount. I , however, after walking away some distance , heard a loud shout . I did not hear the shout in that cacophony but saw the woman vendor running after me to hand over the remaining change ! I realized that honesty is not the privilege of the rich. Rather it could be otherwise. I have found that hill people and village people , who are untouched by the city culture of vultures , are true to their ethical and religious beliefs. The remaing amount was too paltry for me but it was worth a day’s labour to the vegetable vendor but she would not covet what does not rightly belong to her.

Coming back to Isavasya Upanishad, it has 18 mantras. But , to my understanding , except the Peace mantra and the first mantra, which I have quoted in the previous post and this blog , the other mantras seem to me pedantic and pedestrian. I have similar views, about most of the Puranas. They cater to the fantasy and superstitius beliefs. I hope to be proved wrong. But the same can not be said about the Vedas, Upanishads and , of course, the Bhagavad Gita. They are valuable treasures of Hindu religion and spiritual practices. In fact to pre-fix the word ‘ Hindu ‘ for this literature may not be accurate. They are the products of pre-Hindu period and are more in the nature of ,
” LOVE OF LIFE, REVERANCE FOR THE CREATOR ( in any form ) and CONTEMPLATION ON THE UNIVERSE ” .

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Mahavir Nautiyal

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