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upanishad

Relevance of ancient Indian scriptures: The meaning of Upanishad

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This means the state of changing—that which keeps changing continuously—marks the beginning of understanding of truth and when you have understood it, you are no longer there as a being different from the truth. Here, therefore, you cannot say: ‘I have come there’ because you are already there, because truth is everywhere. It sounds a little too philosophical. We will get into that; as we go along, we will begin to understand what it means. Anyways, so ‘Upa’ means to go close.

Now, we have the last syllable, ‘Upa-ni-shad’. ‘Shad’, what does ‘shad’ mean? ‘Shad’ means to sit. Now ‘sit’. When you ‘sit’ down, it actually means you are ready to listen. When you stand up, it means you want to get out now. Of course, there were great sages who could meditate standing up. But, for most people, sitting is associated with settling down physically in the mental frame of ‘OK, I have done my work. Now let me sit down, relax and try to understand the deeper aspects of reality’. This sitting down is ‘shad’. You know today, sitting down is not something I have to explain to people. We know that so many young men and women spend so many hours sitting down and staring at the computer screen. So much so, they have to undergo medical treatment to maintain their spines and necks properly. So, I don’t have to explain. ’Shad’ means is to sit.

It’s completely absorbed in what is being said, totally engaged in what’s going on. Such sitting, without any distraction, is ‘shad’.


Now, I have a clarification about sitting down. If I am sitting down here and my mind is wandering and is somewhere else, someplace else, it’s not the Upanishadic way of sitting. When the Upanishad says ‘shad’, it means settling down the mind; to be clear, it is not just physical sitting but rather the mind is sitting, which means the mind has settled down. It’s not moving anymore, the mind. It’s completely absorbed in what is being said, totally engaged in what’s going on. Such sitting, without any distraction, is ‘shad’.

But ‘shad’ also has another meaning. ‘Shad’ also means to shake up. What does it mean, to shake up? Now, to shake up means to not allow the mind to remain in what is known as ‘status quo’. If the mind is to be shaken up from its beliefs, if the mind has to be shaken up from its sleep of ignorance, then the mind has to be woken up from the stupor in which it is engaged or caught in. The mind has to be shaken up from wrong ideas; essentially meaning, a churning-up is required.

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