Reading the Upanishads: Isha Part Ten

We are doing a scripture study together: reading along through some scriptures and discussing the passages. I’ve started with the Isha Upanishad.

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:

However, today I am going to use a different translation. Thanks to our bedbug infestation, I don’t know where my book is right now! So from here is a translation of verses 12-14 of the Isha Upanishad:

12) Into a blind darkness they enter who worship only the unmanifested prakriti; but into a greater darkness they enter who worship the manifested Hiranyagarbha.

13) One thing, they say, is obtained from the worship of the manifested; another, they say, from the worship of the unmanifested. Thus we have heard from the wise who taught us this.

14) He who knows that both the unmanifested prakriti and the manifested Hiranyagarbha should be worshipped together, overcomes death by the worship of Hiranyagarbha and obtains immortality through devotion to prakriti.

This translation requires a bit of extra translation!

Prakriti: “mother nature,” energy, the intelligence of the universe, the basis for all movement and happening.

Hiranyagarbha: This is a concept of the seed of the start of creation. It is also called the soul of the universe and sometimes another word for Brahma. I think in this case it is referring to the manifest world, everything of physical realness in the universe.

As with the last set of verses, this one seems to be repeating the point that it is not good to focus on one aspect of divinity to the exclusion of all others. The divine is not found in only the physical or in only the mental. It is when we embrace all aspects of divinity that we understand it.

When you worship only mental energy, you are missing part of the point. But when you worship only the physical wonder of the world, you are also missing part of the point. These two things must be seen as one, each an important part of creation.

What do you suppose the difference is between overcoming death and obtaining immortality?


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