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General theme of the Upnishads

The main theme of the Upnishads is to surrender to God (brahm) and receive liberation from the bondage of maya (the cosmic power or the material power) and enter into the eternal state of the Divine Bliss. The Upnishads distinguish the celestial gods from the Divine forms of God.
The 33 celestial gods.

The Brihadaranyak Upnishad says that there are mainly thirty-three gods who are important in the celestial world in terms of the performance of Vedic rituals and the yagyas. Other celestial gods are affiliates to them. They are: eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas (forms of sun god), god Indra and god Prajapati.

The eight Vasus are: agni (god of fire), prithivi (goddess of the earth), vayu (god of the wind), antarikch (god of the space), aditya (sun god), dyo (god of the luminous sky), chandrama (moon god) and nakchatra (god of the nakchatras, asterism. Nakchatras are 27, called Magha, Rohini etc.)

These gods are associated with Vedic ceremonies only. They have no concern with God realization.

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General definitions of soul, maya and God.

1. Souls are unlimited in number, infinitesimal (anu) in size, initially Divine in quality but eternally blemished by maya, so they are eternally bound by their karmas which are unlimited in quantity. They are part of the Divine power called jeev shakti which is affiliated to chit shakti of God. These are the souls that are under the bondage of maya. All of the souls have a chance to realize God if they follow the guidelines of selfless devotion (bhakti) to God. There are also unlimited number of such souls that are beyond the bondage of maya. They all live in the Divine abodes of their worshipped form of God as described in our scriptures. 2. Maya is a single limitless and lifeless power of God. It has three qualities, sattva (pious), raj (selfish) and tam (evil) that represent its existence when it is evolved into the form of the universe. In the state of absolute dissolution of the universe, maya stays in God in an absolutely dormant form along with the souls that are under its bondage. 3. God. Eternal, omnipresent, all-Blissful, all-Gracious, all-kind and allloving Divine personality is God. His prime forms are: nirakar (formless aspect of God), Vishnu, Shiv, Durga, Ram and Krishn. Nirakar is established in the personal form of God, and all the personal forms of God are established in the personality of Krishn Who reveals the richest and most intimate form of the Divine Bliss, so He is called the supreme personality of God (poornatam purushottam).
Illusive nature of the world.

The Upnishads tell about the illusive charm and the fleeting pleasures of this world and also of the celestial abodes called the heaven. The Mundkopnishad says,

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It means that the ardent ritualists observing Vedic discipline realized that the eternal (Divine) happiness cannot be found by Vedic observances. So, they renounced them and considering them as mayic deceptions they surrendered to God. Every person has an inherent weakness of leaning towards mayic attractions, and thus, he keeps on running after the mirage of illusive hope of receiving happiness through sensual gratifications or other egoistic activities of receiving name and fame in the world. His life ends, but the search for happiness never ends. Thus the Upnishads say to renounce the hope (nirvedmayat) of receiving happiness from worldly objects and beings and wholeheartedly turn towards God.

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