The Upanishads are a part of the Vedic Literature (the Vedas) that contain meditations upon the nature of the Self. They are primarily concerned with answering the question “Who am I?”, and they elaborate upon the manner in which the individual Self relates to the universal Self and all things contained within Totality or ‘Brahman’.
The ‘hidden’ connection between the Self and all that is considered as distinct from the Self, is the foundational inquiry of the Upanishad texts.
In the Isha Upanishad, one of the primary Upanishads that many Gurus and scholars have commented upon, there is a verse that speaks about the importance of Karma, or the performance of action in a spirit of Yagnya or ‘’offering’ in order that a relationship of oneness be experienced within the dualities of life. We often assume the performance of Yagnya to be a fire ceremony in which offerings are made to propitiate Deities. And yet, the word Yagnya also signifies an offering of personal energy to an action that blends the identity of the Self with the welfare and evolution of a larger collective.
The literature speaks about five types of Yagnyas that sublimate personal energy:
- Brahma Yagnya – Partaking of wisdom through the study of ancient texts; the worship of knowledge.
- Deva Yagnya – Actions that propitiate the forces of Nature; the worship and care for Nature as a living form.
- Pitru Yagnya – Honouring the ancestors through offering; giving gratitude to the cycle of life; forgiving the past as well.
- Nri Yagnya (Manusha Yagnya) – Empathy and care for fellow human beings.
- Bhuta Yagnya – Reverence for all living beings; showing kindness towards all creatures.
The Isha Upanishad begins with a verse about Fullness or Wholeness. It is a pertinent reminder that when I see my-Self in all, I am able to accept both my individuality and universality as expressions of Cosmic Consciousness.
The Sanskrit Verse is:
OM purnamadah purnamidam
purnaat purnam udachyate
“That is Full, This is Full. From Fullness, Fullness emerges,
Taking Fullness from Fullness, what remains is Fullness.”