Reading the Upanishads – Part Two

I thought it would be nice to read along through some scriptures and discuss the passages. I have a translation of the Upanishads done by Eknath Easwaran, a teacher whom I deeply trust and love. In this book there is an introduction before each translation with some insight from Easwaran.

Here is a link to the Amazon page for the book I have:

The second verse is as follows in the Easwaran translation…

 

 Thus working may you live a hundred years.

Thus alone will you work in real freedom.

 

This short verse seems to refer to the one before it. If you are able to renounce your claim on things in the world and not covet things, if you are able to be in peace with nothing belonging to you, everything belonging to the Lord, then you will live a long and happy life in freedom.

I’m thinking the “hundred years” means may you have a good long opportunity to practice this renunciation.

 

***

How did I do with my goal from last week?

I had a successful fast on Monday. The most difficult part was actually the showering in the morning! Shameful confession, I hate to bathe. I struggle a lot with showering. But Monday I was good. I got up, I showered, I put on clean white clothing, and I did a puja to Shiva.

I don’t know if fasting made me more focused. Most of the time when I don’t eat, I obsess over how hungry I am. That didn’t happen too much on Monday because there was no choice. It wasn’t something I had to struggle with. However, having no food in the stomach doesn’t really seem to actually focus me. I feel like I lose focus.

The timing on Monday was not ideal because it was actually my first anniversary with my wonderful boyfriend. He knew I was doing a fast from sun up to sun down and so he waited until the moment the sun went down to come home with a box of chocolates and a rose! He’s so thoughtful.

My goal this coming week is to try a new form of meditation (i.e., one I have not tried before) twice this week.

What is your goal for this week?

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • HARRY

    @ Ambaa

    I ‘m happy for you that you finish your fasting. But what I wanted to ask you was this, you said in one your post replay that you are not a vaishnva but an Advaitan. I was thinking while driving my self to London. To my understanding the Dvaitan and Advaitan are both sections of vaishnva path. This is same as different sections of an umbrella which in turn is also is same umbrella or atleast part of it, if you see my point. Why do you think that they are not the same ? I’m just curious. I have only asked you because anybody who follows Ramanucharia punth (not path) will always follow the Advaitan path of Vaishnva.

    I have also heard people from variety of Hindu back ground who also tell me that they don’t believe in Shivism, That’s fine, but my question is if you loose keys to your house how do get inside? I will explain what I mean by this. Shiva was first enlighten soul who pointed the path to vaishnava. He kind of holds the key to pearly gate as so to speak for example path to moksa. The apple and it’s core are still one fruit, if you know what I mean.

    Bathing is important every morning if you are going to perform puja. The reason for this is if you can’t be inspired to do external purity how is it possible to have internal one. So yes this is a must even if you don’t like it.

    HARRY

    PS Enjoyed the write up :)

    • Ambaa

      I’m actually doing a post about branches of Hinduism tomorrow!

      The thing is, there is a tendency to think that the path that we follow is the “real” one and everyone else is on that path, they just don’t know it. You may say “I’m a vaishnava, so why do you say that you aren’t? You do this and this and this just like me.” But it is a different branch.

      In my observations, I have seen vaishnavas to be much more dualistic, but not in a bad way. They tend to be more devotional and more seeing God as a separate being far above them. Anyway, I’ll have more about it tomorrow! :)

      And I know I’m supposed to bathe every morning. That’s a work in progress. I don’t puja every morning at this point!

      • Ashish Pandey

        Hi Ambaa,
        I think you are seeing Vaishanava from the perspective of Iskcon. Well they are more inclined to follow the dwaita path ( given by Madhavacharya ) . Some follow the Vishistdwaita ( qualified dualism given by Ramanujacharya ) and the last one is Advaita ( given by Shankaracharya , very intelligent , many people consider him to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva himself). I believe in Vaisnavism there are many categorization, Dualism is just one of them.

        • HARRY

          @ Ashish Pandey

          You hit the nail on the head. I was thinking how do I differentiate this and explain it to Ambaa bit I think you have done it with few words and for that my thousand respect to you. Nice one dude. :)

        • Ambaa

          I can agree that there are many shades of Vaisnavism, as there are many shades of all the branches. The thing is, though, from my perspective all branches of Hinduism are variations on Advaita! I see the world through that lens. I see the influence of Adi Shankara in nearly everything. I guess to me the big difference is that I do not focus on Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, or even Shiva either. I focus on a universal unknowable.

      • Ambaa

        Ooops, I meant Wednesday! I am getting my days mixed up. I have a post about branches of Hinduism on Wednesday.

  • seeker

    My goal for this week is to try to be a little more balanced since I tend to be all or nothing!

  • seeker

    Here are three alternate translations:

    Doing verily works in this world one should wish to live a hundred years.
    Thus it is on thee and not otherwise than this;action cleaves not to a man.

    Performing sacred works, let a man desire to live a hundreds years.
    If thou thus (desirest), O man, there is no other manner in which thou art not tainted by work.

    If a man wishes to live a hundred years on this earth, he should live performing action.
    For you, who cherish such a desire and regard yourself as a man, there is no other way by which you can keep work from clinging to you.

    It struck me that the four translations have subtly different views of the hundred years. The Easwaran one is almost a wish (may you live a hundred years). The second says you should wish to live a hundred years, as though it’s a duty. The third says let a man desire to live a hundred years, again suggesting duty. The last says if a man wishes to live a hundred years, implying that this is a way to get a wish fulfilled.

    It also strikes me that Easwaran’s translation does not have the straightforward warning that if you do not follow the instructions, you will be tainted by the work.

    I just want to say I admire Easwaran’s work; I just like to look at other sources for other views.

    • Ambaa

      Agreed! Thank you for finding other translations. Ideally I would go directly to the Sanskrit, but that’s beyond my capabilities. My parents do just that, carefully studying the original Sanskrit of all the scriptures!

      • Drekfletch

        So I finally decided to bring out my copy. I was a bit confused, as my copy begins with the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad (with a whole bunch of missing diacritics) and therefore started with a litany of metaphor-similes that was not this. It also seems to be more literal (possibly to missing the point) than your translations. Luckily I was first looking at your post for verse 6, which told me it’s the Isa. My translation for this verse contains yet another take on 100 years:
        Just performing works in this world,
        you should desire to live your hundred years.
        Thus, and not otherwise, in fact,
        does work not spear off on you.
        I focus on the possessive pronoun ‘your,’ and read it as advocating acceptance, a sort of rejection of desires. I infer an ‘only’ in that second line, “desire only your 100 years.” I have a suspicion that “works” and “action” are translations of karma (which admittedly I have trouble holding in my head all at once).

        • Ambaa

          Oh good, I’m glad you found it! I realized I do need to start mentioning in each post which Upanishad we’re in! It will be the Isha for quite a while at this rate, though.


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