Isha Upanishad.. some musings

Dance of Abundance and Completeness

Sujatha R
5 min readApr 22, 2022

I was recently listening to Gabriella’s video. What a serene pace of words.. Like a gentle stream cascading over boulders.

The 18 verses of the Upanishad seem like the 18 chapters of the Gita. It starts with a beautiful beginning. This world is HIS envelope.

It got back some memories of school days, yoga training, math lesson, OS scheduling, and many small talks around this topic. Sharing some recollections and reflections. I have not really read in detail the meaning of all the verses.

“This” is complete.. “That” is complete..

Everything around is abundantly complete..

POORNAM IDAM.. POORNAM ADAM..

In my middle school, we would chant this Shanti Mantra at the end of the day, and I vaguely noticed the many “Poornams”.

It was in a math class, decades later, that I see this verse again. And the lesson gave me GOOSEBUMPS!

And the math lesson unfolds..
The number ZERO is abundantly blissful and complete.
No matter how many zeroes are credited.. No matter how many zeros are given away.. ZERO still remains the unmutated ZERO.

It is a well of infinite abundance. And its symbol is so round and complete.

Any the other examples which share this trait with zero..
A mother gives birth to a child and does not become deficient herself.
Sharing happiness with a friend does not create a deficit of happiness..
Sharing knowledge does not rob of one’s wealth..

“Everything around is abundantly complete. And completeness gives birth to completeness.. And there is no deficit..”

A seed gives rise to a complete tree. There is completeness and abundance all around. From the microcosmic world to the structure of leaves and flowers.. Atomic numbers are one after another. There is completeness everywhere. This world is HIS envelope.

A poetic take on a few verses take on this work

In every move of HER is HIM
This world is enveloped by HIM
thereby LET GO and ENJOY
Do not GRAB
For whose wealth is it?

Thereby
do your bit of ACT
and live a life of every moment..
and live a life of 100 years
and ACTIONS will no longer BIND..

LET GO of inner demons
from the darkness of IGNORANCE

Oh GOLDEN orb of Truth..
Unveil and show me the path..
[surya namaskara prayer]

HE moves and yet does not move..
HE is far and yet very near..
HE is in knowledge and yet not in knowledge..
The ever radiant one..
and resides in every breath and move

And..
HE is in ME..
The abundant, complete, and joyful one..
soham asmi..

He is ME

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं

पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते

पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय

पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥

ॐ शांतिः शांतिः शांतिः ॥

On some wordplay, grammar, and etymology.

This work has a few IDAMs and ADAMs. THIS andTHAT

Poornam adah.. Poornam idam..
Ishaavaasyam
idam sarvam.

The INFINITE can only be seen through pointers of THIS and THAT..
THIS is complete.. THAT is complete.. All THIS is HIS.

Interestingly, IDAm ADAm also resonates with tHIs and tHAt. And the telugu forms.. IDI ADI.

Etymology of Atman

Recently discovered that ‘atman’ comes from the root ‘at’ + ‘maniN’ pratyaya.. ‘at’ that which keeps moving.. A few lines from this poetic work came to my mind.. Written in a style of paradox and opposites.

Descriptors of Atman

तत् एजति। तत् न एजति। That which moves and yet does not move
तत् तिष्ठत् धावतः अन्यान् अत्येति। That standing, passes beyond others as they run.

This string of opposites quite poetic.
सः स्वयम्भुः पर्यगात् कायम् स्नाविरम् अपापविद्धं शुक्रम् अव्रणं शुद्धं कविः मनीषी परिभुः
This poet.. This thinker.. कविः मनीषी
Is residing abroad.. is bodiless.. is unpasted.. unblemished

~

The first verse.. Thanks to Amit ji from SLG group for unveiling the words.

यत्-किं-च जगत्यां जगत्, (तद्) इदं सर्वम् ईशा वास्यम्।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथाः, मा (अ)गृधः कस्यस्विद् धनम्॥

जगत्यां जगत्
In HER is HIM.. In every act of this transient world is HIM

I was intrigued by this pair of words जगत्यां जगत्

जगत्यां comes from the feminine word जगती.
And जगत् is derived from गम् meaning: moves, comes-and-goes, transitory, manifests, lives..
यत्-किं-च जगत्यां जगत्.. that which fuels every move.. In the collective HER is HIM..

ईशा comes from ईश्… ईशा वास्यम् => Residence/Envelope by the Lord..
इदं सर्वम् ईशा वास्यम् => All this is residence by the Lord.

~

तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथाः By letting it GO, you ought to ENJOY.
मा (अ)गृधः कस्यस्विद् धनम् Having not GRABBED wealth

What a contrasting pair of words.. त्यजँ is to GIVE UP, भुजँ is to ENJOY.
By GIVING UP, you must ENJOY.

I have heard from my wise friend that scholars have been debating over the meaning of the verse. I guess there are many ways to see it. Knowing the grammar behind it, one can learn more about the deeper meaning. This first verse is an open-ended one.. And the interpretation in italics is simple poetic thoughts from my side.

Let GO of worries.. Let GO of prejudices.. Let GO of plurality of shapes and thoughts.. Let GO of greed, anger, weakness, fear.. So many things to Let GO.. And ENJOY..

Having not GRABBED too much.. Be it worries, wealth, or thoughts.. There is a limit to HOLDING. Oceans give their water to the Sun. Clouds are pierced by thunder when they hoard too much of water. Trees shed their leaves in the FALL season when the moisture levels exceed. This Universe belongs to everyone.

The time space, mood of speech, addressee and witness of events present a variety of tenses and there are so many gerund forms in addition.. It becomes an art form to learn and bring out this aspects in minimal English :)

~

There is a poetic sprinkle of “BY this.. BY that”.. Like the Kenopanishad

शा वास्यम् residence BY him
तेत्यक्ते BY giving it up
हिरण्मयेन पात्रे WITH the Golden Orb

~

गृधः quite resonates with GRAB. Hence was fascinated to use it.

Spring is in the air..
LET GO and find JOY..
Turn a new leaf..
Be the busy bird
celebrating life..

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं

पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते

पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय

पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥

ॐ शांतिः शांतिः शांतिः ॥

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns