Prashnopanishad (Six Disciples - Six Questions One Truth)


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I am extremely glad to note that the Madurai public has so well reacted to the 41 days' Upanisad jnana-yajna, the fifth of its kind that I have been deputed to serve. The discourses that were heard at the Madurai yajnasala during these 41 days (from 14 February to 26 March 1954) are being compiled here into one solid volume to serve two kinds of people - those who have not been able to attend the yajna and those who attended it. To the former this will be a complete textbook, and to the latter it will serve as notes helping to refresh their memory of what they heard while attending the yajna.

I know that the yajna committee owes its thanks to thousands of people for their cooperation and divine enthusiasm, but for which the yajna would not have been such an unprecedented success as it was in Madurai. But all the same, mainly the committee should remember in gratitude the Lord Himself who gave it the chance to conduct this yajna, since it is he who guides us in all our endeavours and doles out real success of all our consistent and persistent efforts. .

I must congratulate especially the President of the committee, Sri P. A. C. Ramaswamy Raja of Rajapalayam, for his diligent and faithful editing of this textbook. I feel confident that all the salient points that were discussed in the yajnasala have been faithfully reported in these pages. .

Good or bad, success or failure, complete or incomplete, I consider no work as mine and as such I feel no hesitation in placing this volume as a flower of love and homage at the feet of our reviving Hinduism.

Renascent Hinduism is rising. She has decided to work out her queenly vision of serving humanity all round the globe. The general enthusiasm with which the faithful are now flocking to the study of the Upanisad in such continuous discussion groups clearly reveals that the rsis have started their unseen work of guiding their exhausted children back to their philosophical wealth and spiritual nourishment. The earlier our readers complete their study of these scriptures and reinforce their intellectual knowledge with consistent and intelligent practice, the easier would be the work of our 'Eternal Mother', the Sruti. If you are not enrolling yourself in the army of Hindu missionaries as a member, you will soon be finding yourself a foreigner in your own native land! .

Move with the times and know the timeless 'Time'. My grateful and humble regards to all workers and sincere volunteers who have contributed their work to make the yajna such a glorious success, especially, I owe my gratitude to Sri Gopalakrishna Pillai, the secretary of the committee, who had been a flawless sevaka of Mother Sruti. .


The Hindus believe that 'the Vedas are eternal'. To the modern skeptic it is certainly a revolting idea, smelling antiquity and thriving only in blind faith. But this opinion can come only to a hasty student who has not scientifically approached this statement, and has not understood the entire depth of its significance. .

In its primary meaning Veda is not a mere textbook in Sanskrit. It is only in its secondary meaning that it has come to acquire suggestiveness as 'a bible in four great volumes'. They contain the entire spiritual knowledge of the Hindus. The word Veda comes from a root 'yid' which means 'to know'. Since the textbook deals with Knowledge as its subject matter, the entire literature has come to be named as the Veda. .

Even today, when we walk into a modern library, we can come across shelves styled as 'Philosophy' or 'Poetry', 'Electricity' or even as 'Skulls'! These labels do not mean that these shelves are filled with this stuff! It only means that they contain books dealing with these special subjects. In the day-to-day life it is quite natural for us in our conversations to call the container by the name of the contained. Thus, when the Hindus believe that the Vedas are eternal, they do not mean that their palmyra books are indestructible, nor they feel that their bhurja patrams are imperishable! .

As a matter of fact the Hindu philosophers insist and believe that the entire world of matter is finite and that the only permanence in them is the very 'principle of their impermanence'. As such, when they say, 'the Vedas are eternal,' they mean only that the knowledge which is the theme of the Vaidika literature is eternal. That there is a fourth plane of Consciousness which is not generally recognised by man in his endless preoccupation with the lower, finite, three fields of conscious activities, is an eternal Truth. It is possible that in a given period of history, this Knowledge may be relatively more veiled from man than in another golden era of his culture and spirituality. This is true even in the field of material science. .

Almost in the same sense in which we say that Vedas are eternal, we can also say that electricity is eternal. Before the earliest scientist came to discover the existence of electrical energy, electricity was there, veiled from the cognition of man, in every running brook. At a given period in history, mainly by accident but equally well supported by intelligent and conscious self-effort, a series of scientists completed the discovery, the capture and the taming of this wild and ferocious energy for man to employ it in his day-to-day life. It is also equally possible that in another era, man may come to a state of existence, wherein generations may live in total ignorance of this mighty slave, now so beautifully tamed and so fully trained. But the existence of electricity does not depend upon man's knowledge or ignorance of it whether he knows it or not, electricity exists as long as the material world exists. .

Similarly, the Truth as the Conscious Principle in me and Its all-pervasive, homogeneous nature does not at all depend upon any generation's intellectual cognition and spiritual experience. In a given generation even if the majority has come to experience this eternal unity underlying the pluralistic diversity of the phenomenal world-dream, the Vedas thereby do not gain a greater status. The mount Alps is there in Europe, whether you know it or not. The majesty or grandeur, the might or strength of the Niagara Falls do not in any way depend upon our individual personal knowledge of it. .

**Contents and Sample Pages**