Reading the Upanishads: Part Eight

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 eighth verse of the Easwaran translation of the Isha Upanishad is…

The Self is everywhere. Bright is the Self,

Indivisible, untouched by sin, wise,

Immanent and transcendent. He it is

Who holds the cosmos together.

What a gorgeous verse this is!

It’s interesting to see this translation kind of making the Self both big and small in the same place here. While talking about how all pervasive the Self is, it still uses “he” as a pronoun, making it also feel relate-able and close.

I wonder about the “untouched by sin” part. The Self is everywhere and part of us at all times. I think this verse means that it is not affected when we mess up.

I love the part about holding the cosmos together.

I like to look at it like the world is a huge wooden puzzle. All the pieces are made of the same material, but they appear in different shapes and colors. Even the air connecting us is a piece in the puzzle. This verse reminds me of that description.

***

Update on the meditation challenge: I did not get very far in it! Which is too bad because I really like it. I truly enjoyed the meditations that I did. I’d like to go back and do them and I hope that they keep them up on the site.

I got out of the rhythm of it because we were moving and I didn’t have Internet at home for several days. I had it at work, but I couldn’t exactly sit in my office chair with my eyes closed.

However, the meditations I did do were really enjoyable so I think this may have renewed my interest in trying to meditate.

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.

  • 5w_haul

    i think you are going wrong way don’t start meditation straightaway.
    you should start with tratak to build the capacity and then meditate it’ll be lot easier.

  • Drekfletch

    Oxford World’s Classics, Olivelle trans. 1996

    He has reached the seed — without body or wound,
    without sinews, not riddled by evil.
    Self-existent and all encompassing,
    the wise sage has dispensed objects
    through endless years.

    My interpretation:
    He, the one who sees oneness in previous verses, is fully united with the core that is the Divinity that is All. The little self has been absorbed into the large Self. (As sea spray at one shore is re-united and subsumed with the ocean that is at all shores. (It is equally valid to say that the sea has re-united with and been subsumed by the spray.)) –Being Everything, he has no body with it’s attendant limitations.

    He is That which has been separated.

    • Ambaa

      That translation seems quite different, doesn’t it?

  • Derek_anny

    It does. It’s a trend I’ve noticed through all of these. Easwaran seems to have chosen a more evocative translation, whereas Olivelle chose a more literal translation sacrificing poetry.

    Sacred Texts has the old Max Muller (with u umlaut) translation from 1879:
    8. He (the Self) encircled all, bright, incorporeal, scatheless, without muscles, pure, untouched by evil; a seer, wise, omnipresent, self-existent, he disposed all things rightly for eternal years.

    This makes it look like Easwaran’s “untouched by sin” is a condensation of the litany of the absence of the physical-effects of Maya. It’s possible Olivelle’s “seed” is to be taken in the archaic sense that a seed contains all of creation, much like an egg. Hence the “everywhere” and “encircled all.”

    Hooray for the imprecision of translation.


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