Shades of Mystic Chants


Am I Matter or Energy or Consciousness?

Where do I come from?

What is life?

What will exactly die when I die?

Who created me and who destroys me?

Am I my own master or am I being manipulated by destiny?

What is soul? How is this soul different from the mind?

Such questions have troubled men from time unknown. A handful of people have got their answers, but most of us are still seeking the answers to these questions. Have you ever wondered about your own identity, about the “I in YOU? These are some very tough questions to answer, and if answered, they are difficult to comprehend. Since I too am a seeker in this journey, I understand how hard it is to seek something elusive. While seeking for the mountain of gold, I stumbled upon a treasure of some beautiful verses from our Vedas and Upanishads which I would like to share with you. Though they might not answer all your questions, but they are too beautiful to be left unexplored, untouched, unused in a desert of spiritual depravity.

I recently read Katha Upanishad and Isa Upanishad.  Katha Upanishad is one of the most popular among the principal Upanishads. This Upanishad is set against the backdrop of the story of Nachiketa and Lord Yama. It talks about life and death, and about the enlightenment. Some of the shlokas in Bhagwad Gita seem to be inspired from this Upanishad. I have also shared two of the most profound verses from Isa Upanishad, which is also called as Isavasya Upanisha. The main purpose of Isa Upanishad is to teach the essential unity of God and the world, being and becoming. I would love to share some beautiful verses from these Upanishads, that touched a chord with me:


अणोरणीयान् महतो महीयान्,
आत्मा गुहायां निहितोऽस्य जन्तोः ।
तम् अक्रतुः पश्यति वीतशोकः,
धातुः प्रसादात् महिमानम् आत्मनः ॥

Meaning: This shloka beautifully gives the essence of soul (आत्मा). Smaller than the smallest (अणोरणीयान्), greater than the greatest (महतो महीयान्), the self (आत्मा) is hidden in the heart of every creature. The man who is free of desire can see the greatness of this self (महिमानम् आत्मनः), through stillness of the mind and the senses. (K.U. I.2.20)

एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ब्रह्म एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं परम् ।
एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ज्ञात्वा यो यदिच्छति तस्य तत् ॥

Meaning: This shloka talks about the mystic power of Aum. It says, that this syllable is (एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं), verily, the everlasting spirit (ब्रह्म, Brahman). This syllable is the highest end (परम्). Knowing this very syllable (एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ज्ञात्वा), whatever one desires (यदिच्छति) will indeed, be his. (K.U. I.2.16)

न जायते म्रियते वा विपश्चिन्
नायं कुतश्चिन्न बभूव कश्चित् ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥

Meaning: The self (आत्मा) is never born, nor does he die; This self is the inner reality of each individual and it is changeless. He sprang from nothing and at the same time, nothing sprang from him. The self is unborn, eternal, everlasting, and ancient. Notably this self is unharmed (न हन्यते), even when the body is slain. The chapter 2 in Bhagwad Gita reproduces this shloka (number 20) almost excactly as in Katha Upanishad. (K.U. I.2.18)

ॐ ईशा वास्यमिदँ सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यांजगत्।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम्।१॥

Meaning: This is the opeing verse of Isa Upanishad that talks about the dynamism of the cosmic Brahma (ब्रह्म). Whatever moves in this ever moving world is enveloped by God (ईशा वास्यमिदँ). Therefore find your enjoyment in renunciation. Do not be greedy of what belongs to others. Afterall, all this wealth belongs to no other that God itself (कस्यस्विद्धनम्). Furthermore, to cement the significance of this verse, I would like to share that even Gandhiji refered to this verse while addressing the people of Kottayam in 1937-

“Since God pervades everything, nothing belongs to you, not even your body. If it is universal brotherhood, I find it in this mantra. If it is unshakable faith in God, I find it in this mantra. If it is the idea of complete surrender to God, I find it in this mantra. Since he pervades every fibre of my being and of all of you, I derive from it the doctrine of equality of all creatures on earth and it should satisfy the cravings of all philosophical communists. This mantra tells me that I cannot hold as mine anything that belongs to God.” (I.U. 1)

यस्तु सर्वाणि भूतान्यात्मन्येवानुपश्यति ।
सर्वभूतेषु चात्मानं ततो न विजुगुप्सते ॥

Meaning: He who sees all beings (यस्तु सर्वाणि) in his own self and his own self in all beings; he does not feel any revulsion by reason of such a view. Such a person, will thus understand that one self is manifested in multiple forms (सर्वभूतेषु चात्मानं). This verse particularly emphasizes the unity in multiplicity. To put it in a different way, the everlasting spirit, Brahma is self-manifested as many beings. It is important to understand that it is defintely possible for an individual to be liberated from the illusions of  pain and pleasure, when this onenesses and unity is fully realised. That’s what enlightenment is all about. (I.U. 6)

K.U.- Katha Upanishad
I.U.-Isha Upanishad

Here are some useful web links that you may find interesting:

It would be a good sharing experience if you would contribute other shlokas or verses that you love reciting daily, or shloka that has fascinated you since childhood, or some Sanskrit verses that you would love to go deep into.

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