A collection of texts composed over several centuries (the oldest from ca. 700-300 BCE) and in various regions (northern India, ranging from the upper Indus valley to the lower Ganges).
- Upa(near)+ ni(down) + sad(sit): “to sit close beside” The secret teaching passed orally from teacher to disciple
- “Connection” or “equivalence” secret knowledge or hidden connections (the Upanisads being the texts containing those doctrines)
Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.3-4.4
A dialogue between
- (Y) Yājñavalkya: a great teacher of secret doctrines. Learned, sarcastic, and irreverent
- (K) King Janaka: a great and learned King from Videha
K asks Y “What light does a person have?” and Y responds. K keeps asking “What light does a person have when that is gone?”
The order of Y’s responses is as follows:
- The sun
- The moon
- The Self (see: Cartesian Realism)
Interesting to note that this moves from far away to closeby in terms of spatial distance (astronomically far to the intimate self)
Then K asks, “What is the Self?”. Y answers “the inner light that is the person” (puruṣa) or consciousness as it travels through 3 states. (Map of consciousness, four aspects/“quarters” of the self)
- Waking: person in its physical nature, awareness of external objects
- Dreaming: person in its mental nature, awareness of dream images (mental impressions, memories)
- Deep and dreamless sleep: person beyond desire, peace and bliss.
- Pure Awareness (Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad) (added in a latter Upaniṣad): ground state of consciousness
This is where the OM/AUM sound comes from. A from waking, U from dreaming, M from deep sleep, and pure awareness as a combination of all 3.