Essence of the Upanishads: A Key to Indian Spirituality (Wisdom of India)

Essence of the Upanishads: A Key to Indian Spirituality (Wisdom of India)

Eknath Easwaran

Language: English

Pages: 252

ISBN: 1586380362

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Through his interpretation of one important Upanishad, an ancient wisdom text, Eknath Easwaran shows how the timeless Indian tradition offers guidance on how to live today. Lyrical, dramatic, and inspiring, the Katha Upanishad presents the core ideas of Indian mysticism in a mythic story all can relate to — the adventure of a young hero, Nachiketa, who passes into the kingdom of Death in search of immortality. The King of Death tests his resolve, but the teenager stands firm, demanding answers to the age-old questions, "What is the purpose of life? What happens to me when I die?" Death emerges as the perfect spiritual guide — direct, uncompromising, and challenging. Easwaran’s approach to the Katha is both practical and universal. He explains key Sanskrit terms like karma and prana, illustrating them through everyday anecdotes and entertaining analogies while placing Indian spirituality into the broader context of world mysticism.











and feels “a sense of personal control over one’s life” because he or she has a reason to live. This is the mind’s contribution, not the body’s. The human being needs meaning in order to live, and meaning cannot come from events outside us. It can only come from within: from the way we see the world, informed by wisdom, compassion, understanding, love, and trust. This deep-seated human need for meaning and purpose may go unnoticed in our earlier years, when the body is young and life’s

with Death CHAPTER 1 An Inward Journey Let me start with a story – one that has been handed down for thousands of years. Its hero is a teenager in ancient India named Nachiketa, who goes to the King of Death to learn the meaning of life. The place is not essential to the narrative, but Nachiketa’s age is not incidental. Teenagers can show tremendous spiritual potential, for they have the passion, the desire, the idealism, and the reckless daring to stake everything they have on an almost

put it more vigorously: “Do you want to become a zombie?” This sort of question arises only because we think we are the mind. The mind-process is as compelling as a suspenseful film; while it is going at full speed, we can be aware of nothing else. But when this process is stopped, we discover with surprise that there is not just one self in us; there are two. In Sanskrit, these two selves are called jiva and Purusha. Jiva is the individual ego, the whole bundle of samskaras that we call our

grown tired of the hollowness of our lives, we would still have time and energy enough to change our way of living. But the tragedy is that there is very little time for experimentation. Outside my window there is a lilac bush, which I see every morning at breakfast. I don’t think I ever saw a lilac until I came to this country. I used to ask my English teacher, who happened to be my uncle, “What is this ‘lilac’?” He would just shrug and say, “How should I know?” Now the lilac has become one of

petty, how quickly ended, we would concentrate all our effort on escaping from it once and for all. During the second part of life we learn to defy all the selfish desires that human existence is prey to, hundreds of them, through the practice of meditation and the allied disciplines. This is not negating desires; it is unifying them – transforming them from selfish to selfless, from individual to universal. This unification of desires leads to the integration of personality in its full glory.

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