Author: Ganesh Vidyalankar
Publisher: Isha Music
ISBN/UPC (if available): IM/CD/32
The Ish Upanishad is contained in the final chapter of the Shukla Yagjurveda. It consists of 17 two-line verses covering a wide spectrum of philosophy, religion, ritualism and metaphysics in a concise manner. It assumes a Lord (Ish) of the universes who has the capacity to know everything infinitely, including everything that can be known about a character such as his/her thoughts, feelings, fears, desires etcetera.
The Ish Upanishad is significant amongst the Upanishads for its description of the nature of the Supreme as the controller of our universe.
“He who ‘walks and does not walk’, who is ‘far away, but very near as well’, he who is swifter than the mid even though he is fixed in his abode” (verses 4 & 5).
“He who is formless, omniscient, beyond reproach, pure and uncontaminated” (verse 8).
In this way, the Upanishad gives a number of description of the Supreme.
The later verses take the form of a series of prayers requesting that the speaker by able to see past the supreme light in order to understand the true nature of the Supreme and be freed of the sins of past misdeeds.
The Ish Upanishad is also called the Ishavaasyoponishad. It derives this name from the first word of the first verse, which reads.
Ishaavasyam idam sarvam
Yat kinha jagatyam jagat
Tena tyaktena bhujitha
Ma gridhah kasya svida dhanam
Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada has very succinctly given the meaning of this verse as thus:
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for oneself, which are set aside as one’s quota, and refrain from accepting other things, knowing full well to whom they truly belong.”
In other words, “This universe is enveloped by the Lord”. This explanation is what forms the gist of the Ish Upanishad.