The Upanishads were taught in forest hermitages. It’s not because the Rishis were afraid to live in cities but an atmosphere conducive to the understanding of scriptures is more available some distance away from the mad rush of civilisation.
So, the Upanishads were taught in the forest hermitages, in the ambience of lovely woods and mountains and rivers.
The Upanishads are also called Vedanta because they come at the end of the Vedas: ‘Veda’, ‘anta,’ that is one view.
The other view is that if you have studied the Upanishads, it means you have finished the study of all the Vedas; therefore, it’s Vedanta, meaning the end of the Vedas.
One view is factual and the other philosophical.
Well, in a deeper sense, it means that when you have understood the Upanishads, you have understood everything, which means you have gone to the source of your being and, therefore, to the source of the entire universe.
And, therefore, you have discovered that deep stillness that is full of abundant energy and you are overflowing with this energy. Not a debilitated, weak, meek, powerless person, but a strong, brave, open mind which is like the fire ready to burn down ignorance of any kind.
Now, let’s study the word Upanishad, what does the word Upanishad mean? The word Upanishad has been divided into three parts – ‘Upa’, ‘ni’ and ‘shad’.
‘Upa’ means to go closer, to move closer, to go near. It means to move nearer to the truth. It also means to go near the teacher that means to give attention to what is being said, exclusively.
When somebody says ‘move nearer, come close, come here’, it means dissolve the obstacles that are between you and that somebody who is teaching you, so that the listening takes place properly without reservations.
Now you would say ‘why all this ancient thing about listening and so on?’ I would say it’s so relevant even today to the young who are in the university and also when you are part of an organisation.
Most problems can be sorted out if you would only listen; listening comes with so much difficulty.
We like to talk but we will never listen and for listening you have to move closer. I am not talking physically moving closer because today we have all the microphones, loudspeakers, the sound systems, but rather to take your mind as close as possible to the mind of the one who is teaching.
Now, it also means that the one who teaches should take his/her mind as close as possible to the one he is teaching or she is teaching. When there is this rapport between the teacher and the taught, understanding flows uninterruptedly.
And, that’s what one’s looking for, that’s true knowledge.