Book of Wisdom - Isha Upanishad

  • By Swami Rama
  • August 2003

Courtesy & copyright Himalayan International Institute, Pennsylvania

Friends this is another super book by Swami Rama. I am grateful to Shakunji for introducing me to the institute. If you like to buy their books mail Payal Sehgal at Content is verbatim from the book. Have taken relevant excerpts to make the piece comprehensive. The chapters are -

Sr No Title Contents
1. Introduction
2. Search for Life
3. Mind Sadhana Gives primary rules for sadhana.
4. Upanishads Vedanta Introduction to both.
5. Intro to Ishopanishad Briefly gives contents of four padas.
6. Invocation of Peace Peace prayer.
7. First Pada Mantras 1 to 3.
8. Second Pada Mantras 4 to 8.
9. Third Pada Mantras 9 to 16.
10. Fourth Pada Mantras 17 to 18.


The Ishopanishad, one of the shortest of the Upanishads, is also one of the most profound. Like other great texts of the Vedic tradition, the Ishopanishad is an integrated and comprehensive treatment of spirituality, psychology, epistemology and practical guidance for personal and social improvement. It contains not only an explanation of cosmic and personal consciousness, illusion and reality, ignorance and knowledge, but it also concerns itself with the practical application of spirituality and the preparation for one’s final journey. In this discussion of the Ishopanishad by Swami Rama, we come to understand that there is a necessary compatibility between the spiritual and the practical in life.

Written in the philosophical and poetic imagery of the ancient tradition, the Ishopanishad is often quite difficult for Westerners to understand, but in this commentary, Swami Rama has brilliantly illuminated the profound insights it contains. A master yogi in along line of eminent teachers and rishis, Swami Rama is also a spiritual successor to the great Shankaracharya, India’s greatest philosopher and yogi. Selected to continue in this spiritual leadership carefully handed down through the ages, Swami Rama holds the position of spiritual leader. Since 1969 Swami Rama has been teaching in the United States. He is the founder and spiritual leader of the Himalayan Institute which is located in Honesdale. Pennsylvania and has many branches throughout the United States and other parts of the world. under his guidance, the Institute has developed a holistic therapy program, a graduate school offering a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Yoga Psychology and philosophy, and research and training programs in Yoga science. The Institute also publishers its own books and supports yearly international conferences on Yoga science and meditation. Eschewing any personal following, Swami Rama works quietly to bring the spiritual wisdom of the East to full understanding and harmony in the West. For this spiritual leader, who is also a scientist and a philosopher, there is no separation between the universal truths of religion and science.

Swami Rama’s approach to the Ishopanishad is clear, universal and practical. In the first chapters he points out that despite our material wealth and technology, we have still not achieved peace within ourselves or within our societies. He shows that the solution to our problems lies in the recognition and experience of the inner self, and in establishing harmony with this inner self, nature and society. Then follows a translation of and commentary on the Ishopanishad which provides an unequivocal and concrete illustration of the value of the Upanishads to modern man. Needless to say, such commentaries as these are both rare and essential, especially for Westerners. The Western mind, unfamiliar as it is with Eastern philosophies and worldviews, needs assistance in understanding the writings of a more ancient and distant milieu. This assistance is ably provided by Swami Rama as he demonstrates the everyday practicality of the profound truths found in this ancient text.

For example, mantras twelve-through fourteen of the Ishapanishad are concerned with the highly abstract subject of the differences between the manifest and un-manifest universe. Swami Rama clearly describes the relationship between these two universal principles by comparing them with the relationship between the individual and the cosmos. He also shows that true knowledge is beyond mere academies or logic.

Swami Rama explains several practical methods to start one on the path to the final goal of life-conscious union of the personal with the universal. He demonstrates the practical relationship between the abstract cosmology and everyday life and describes the spiritual practices of yoga, which are the means by which this union can occur.

Whether he is discussing man’s relationship with death, the nature of human suffering, or the development of wisdom, Swami Rama constantly clarifies the relationship between the theoretical and the practical, and constantly holds up for our examination the insights gained through deep spiritual practice by the ancient sages We can ourselves being to see how one of the shortest Upanishads is a wellspring of ageless wisdom, providing both the spiritual metaphysical scheme for understanding the human condition and at the same time providing the practical methods for solving our personal and social problems. As Swami Rama points out, our suffering is a direct result of our ignorance of this inner self, and until we achieve conscious awareness of this self, until we recognize God within, we will continue to create suffering for ourselves. Becoming and remaining conscious of the divine spirit within and becoming non-attached to the world, leads to the realization of universal truth and the resolution of the “partial horror” of the human condition. In his first letter, St. John reminds his fellow Christians that they can overcome adversity and false knowledge because “you are form God and you have in you One who is greater than anyone in this world.” In all great religious truths, there appears the one universal truth of God within as the source of all power and wisdom. In his remarkable vision and understanding, Swami Rama leads the readers to see that “we have only to becomes human; we already are God.”

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